This was my first year to experience the Smash Life Banked Slalom at Alpental, WA. It had been years since I rode here, but it was just as I remembered, steep and deep. As registration was full, I was unable to compete, but as the snow kept dumping, and I was able to ride the radical course a few times, I was far from disappointed. I was happy to cheer on my friends Janessa Bork and Jacqui Shaffer, who were competing for a spot in the Mt Baker Legendary Banked Slalom, which was the prize awarded to the first place winners of the Open Men and Women's divisions. Narrowly missing her chance, Janessa placed 2nd, but we all walked away stoked just to be able to experience the event and honor a dear friend of the snowboard community, Aaron Robinson.
Aaron aka A-Rob, passed away while riding in Chile in 2011. While I never knew him, what I hear from my friends who did, is that he was a connector who brought people together and always shared his enthusiasm for the mountains with those around him. That camaraderie was definitely felt this weekend. Proceeds from the Smash Life events (there is also one at Big Sky, MT) go to A-Rob’s Plant A Seed Project, an organization that helps the connect the youth of A-rob's native Flathead Valley with the joy of shredding.
Events like this make me proud to be part of the snowboard community in the Pacific Northwest. It is a special, close-knit group of adrenaline junkies who all share a life-long passion and appreciation of the outdoors. I give thanks to all those who have been a part of my snow family thus far and for all that I am yet to meet and shred with. Long live the pow dream!