It’s Australian snowboarding’s day of days. The 8th instalment of Australia’s premiere banked slalom is in the books and the snowboarding community came out in force to partake in what many call their favourite event on the snowboarding calendar.
From grommets to gold medallists, over 280 competitors made it over to Merritts to ride what was arguably the most fun and flowy course to date, crafted and refined to perfection by the Thredbo Parks team.
After 10cm of snow from a classic Australian (slightly) cold front coated the berms overnight, competitors rode in the heavy powder-coated course during warm up, and the scene was set for a stacked day of racing. The clouds cleared, the sun popped, and the energy was as good as it gets.
There’s nothing more Australian that pairing a snowboard event with cheap sausages on a barbeque and with thanks to Sims, competitors were kept fuelled up and ready to compete. The YETI chill zone, complete with hand shaped esky and spectator bleachers, provided a perfect vantage point to watch the first section of the course which featured the psychedelic portal hole first feature for riders to transport themselves into snowboarding euphoria.
The Grom field was stacked, with competitors as young as 7 lining the gates to drop in. With the youngest competitor not even born when the first TBS took place, the fact that these kids had the confidence to drop into the same course as their Olympic heroes is testament to how progressive snowboarding is becoming amongst the youth. At the end of the day it was Clementine Wall and Mitchell Frost who took first place in the Grom Women and Grom Men categories, with Mitchell sharing the podium with his brother Alex.
The Junior category featured a stacked field of over 50 young rippers, and with less than half a second separating first and second, it was Halle McRae who took out the junior women division as she flowed her way through the tight berms of the lower section. In the Junior Mens, Joshua Ashe narrowed out Juan George to take victory – with Juan donning the look of the day as he shared a podium with his dad Brad.
The Open category is always the biggest and fastest field of the day, and with Open Womens being the first field to sell out, it was going to be a hotly contested sprint to the finish. With two Beijing Olympians in the field, Tess Coady and Josie Baff, and a heated field of old and new faces, it was Mia Brookes who by four one-hundreds of a second pipped Freya Hammerlein, who also shared a podium with her mum Marguerite in the masters division.
The Open Mens division was the most stacked field to date, with Olympians Scotty James, Valentino Guseli, Matty Cox and Nate Johnstone all lining up in the start gates alongside over 80 other ex-pros, weekend warriors, industry heads and the entire Thredbo Media team. But seemingly out of nowhere, it was Australian snowboarding icon and veteran Robbie Walker who unbeknownst to any of the organisers made the trip from Victoria with his son and clocked the fastest time of any competitor on the day, an incredible 1-minute flat. Robbie is unquestionably snowboarding royalty in Australia, and it’s no surprise that he now adds a Transfer Banked Slalom podium to his many accolades and incredible video parts.
The Masters division is easily the most competitive field and also the division that features the most expensive wax jobs – and with side-wagers from bowls of ramen to cases of beer there was a lot riding on the results. The field also included Ashley Muller, the founding father of Australian banked slaloms and the organiser of the very first banked slalom at Mt Hotham in 1990. In a carbon copy of the 2021 podium, only with a shuffle in places, Cronulla snowboarding veteran Brad George took out the Masters Men, and with so many victories we’ve lost count, Thredbo local Wiki Jones added another notch in her belt taking out Masters Women.
As the sun set on the Merritts Deck, the celebration started with thanks the Pirate Life Beer, toasting to what was an incredible day of racing. It’s hard to think of another event in any sport where a 7-year-old and a World Champion can share the same course, racing alongside one another and sharing a yarn and a chairlift ride back up to the top. A father and son, a mum and daughter and two brothers shared podiums in different age groups and six Olympians, two of them medallists, slapped palms and share a sausage sanga with their friends and fans. That’s iconically Australian snowboarding.
The Banked Slalom celebrates the best part of snowboarding, truly an event run by snowboarders for snowboarders. No judges or mega cheques, just pure community recognition – and maybe a few side bets and bragging rights.
Thank you to all the competitors who came out to participate and a special thanks to the Thredbo Parks Team who crafted the incredibly enjoyable course.
View the full results here.
LEADERBOARD Grom Women: Clementine Wall
Grom Men: Mitchell Frost
Junior Women: Halle McRae
Junior Men: Joshua Ashe
Masters Women: Wiki Jones
Masters Men: Brad George
Open Women: Mia Brookes
Open Men: Robbie Walker