This was the 4th addition of The Sudden Rush Banked Slalom in Laax, organised by Nicolas Müller and Terje Haakonsen and on arrival for a course check, we found both Terje and Nicholas hard at work with the shape crew putting the finishing touches to the course. This really highlighted to me how much passion these two put into creating this event.
With a mixture of current pros, former pros, artists, silver surfers, women, groms and people just there to try their luck in attendance, there was an obvious scent of excitement in the air and with a rumour of a blue weather day the next day, we looked all set for one hell of an event.
Before the riding got under way, we headed to The Tidal Art show created by Aaron Schwartz . Held in the beautifully redesigned Riders Hotel, Tidal showcased some of the best loved snowboard artists in the business and the rider/ artists included Bryan Iguchi, Forest Bailey, Danny Larsen, Scoph Scofield, Jamie Lynn, Aaron Schwartz, PJ de Villiers and much more. Free alcohol and art always goes down a treat and it was great to see some of these iconic images in the flesh. The fact that most of these artists would also be riding the next day was also part of the charm of The Sudden Rush Banked Slalom.
The weather reports were on point and we were gifted with blue bird conditions, no wind and a perfect banked slalom set up.
Banked Slalom events are becoming increasingly popular in recent times and for a good reason. For one there is no age limit on speed, (which was demonstrated with Pascal Imhof recording the fastest time out of everyone at 42 years old), it’s easy to follow as a spectator and it’s damn fun to take part in. Snowboard contests can be hard to follow these days but with a Banked Slalom, the clock doesn’t lie and this simple fact merely adds to the excitement.
Saturday saw 276 riders take two runs down the Sudden Rush Banked Slalom course. On the outside, it didn’t look too hard and I had visions of myself standing on the podium with a gold medal around my neck. The reality though was quite different and after bailing on both runs, I quickly discovered that to do well at The Sudden Rush Banked Slalom, you need to be one hell of a snowboarder.
Luckily for the spectators, there were some good riders there. For the Pro men Elias Elhardt and Christian Hitsch Haller somehow managed to get the exact same race time to put them into a tied 1st place. Host Nicolas Müller surprisingly crashed out on his first run but pulled it back to secure third. His fellow host, Terje had to settle for fourth spot.
After the mayhem of the saturday, we headed back to the course nursing hangovers to see Sunday’s fakie race and groms category. If I thought riding the contest regular was hard enough, seeing the riders ride it switch was truly mind blowing. Saturday’s joint winner Elias Elhardt showed the versatility is a part of his skills as he also took home the gold riding switch. Terje and Nicolas Müller rounded up the podium with their second and third place spots.
The groms event was one of my highlights of the Sudden Rush Banked Slalom. There were tons of kids and girls hurtling down the course, trying to secure the top spot. With some of the riders being younger than 10 years old, we will no doubt see some of these kids riding way into the the future.
Thank you Laax, Sudden Rush, Terje and Nico for an outstanding event and see you all next year.