It’s Australian snowboarding’s day of days, and another tournament of turns is in the books. The 9th instalment of Australia’s premiere Banked Slalom once again brought together the entire snowboarding community as they corralled into Pit Lane, engines tuned and tyre-warmers on, ready to take on an all-new course at Thredbo Resort.
From grommets to gold medallists, over 290 competitors strapped in at an entirely new location, the largest field of competitors the contest has ever seen. Low tide conditions didn’t hamper the efforts of the Thredbo Parks team as they truly made lemonade from lemons, crafting a beautifully fast, technical, leg burning series of turns on High Noon that had even the best riders’ back legs quivering at the finish line. The efforts of the parks team cannot be underplayed – pushing and hand shaping a 19-turn racetrack from scratch is certainly no walk in the (terrain) park – a truly a remarkable effort, one for which all competitors were grateful!
Is there anything more Australian that pairing a snowboard event with snags on a barbie? With thanks to Sims Snowboards and Rattlin Bones Hot Sauces, competitors were kept fuelled up and ready to rip with what is arguably snowboarding’s most nutritious and performance enhancing sustenance. Pirate Life provided vital hydration in the YETI chill zone, complete with Tundra eskies and deck chairs, the perfect vantage point for turn number four – the loudest and most heckle-worthy of all the berms. An all-new live timing system, with thanks to G-Shock, allowed competitors to track their first run times – and then process and strategise on how to go faster for run two.
What was most notable about this year’s contest was just how diverse the field of competitors was. Paralympians and retirees compete alongside 7-year-olds and X-Games gold medallists – all having as much fun as each other as they fly around the course gates. More than ever before, we saw parents compete alongside their offspring – some of which landed on the podium together. From Guselis to Hardwicks, Baffs, Windshuttles and Georges – competitors from multiple family generations raced together, most beating their parents, showing just how much of a family affair this event really is.
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 Indiana Hickman and Gabe Hardwick who took first place in the Grom Women and Grom Men categories – each scoring a selection of merch from The North Face, YETI and G-Shock.
The Junior category was another hotly contested field, and taking top spot alongside her sister in the Grom category it was Ally Hickman who flowed her way through the tight berms of the upper section to secure the win by over a second. In the Junior Mens, it was Pantxo Wall, another last-name rich with history in Australian snowboarding, who narrowed out the competition to take victory – standing on the podium with his sister Clementine who took in second place in the Junior women’s field.
The Masters division is easily the most competitive field and also the division that features the most expensive wax jobs – and with ex-professionals lining up alongside ex-Olympians, there was a lot riding on the results. The fastest Masters Male on the day was TAB boardercross coach and two-time Olympian Benny Mates who, by 6 tenths of a second, pipped undeniably the Transfer Banked Slalom’s most enthusiastic competitor Adrian Borcherds. With so many victories we’ve lost count, Thredbo local Wiki Jones added another feather in her cap taking out the Masters Women division – donning a custom Transfer Banked Slalom winners jacket as she stood on the podium’s highest tier.
The Open Mens division is collectively the fastest field on the day, with Olympians Scotty James, Valentino Guseli, Nate Johnstone, Jarred Hughes and Ben Tudhope all lining up in the start gates alongside over 75 other ex-pros, weekend warriors, industry heads and Thredbo employees. But seemingly out of nowhere, it was Karel Van Goor who out-rode Australia’s two most decorated halfpipe riders to post an incredible time of 52.73 seconds – narrowing out second place Valentino Guseli by over a second. Jindabyne local turned UK paralympic boardercross coach, Karel was somewhat of a silent assassin donning the gold North Face winner’s jacket and custom winners number plate as he stood atop the podium.
In the Open Womens, it was Olympic bronze medallist and Thredbo ambassador Tess Coady who proved she doesn’t just dominate on the slopestyle course, taking top spot ahead of Freya Hammerlein and daughters of snowboard icon JF Pelchat – Juliette and Amalia – in third and fourth place. Tess claimed her custom North Face winners jacket and G-Shock winner’s watch and added a Transfer Banked Slalom title to her bursting-at-the-seams trophy cabinet.
So another year and another list of champions marked in the history books. 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. It’s hard to think of another event in any sport where Olympians race alongside 7-year-olds, slapping palms and sharing a sausage sanga in the sunshine with one another.
It’s pure, unadulterated Australian snowboarding.
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.
The Transfer Banked Slalom is proudly supported by The North Face, Sims Snowboards, YETI, Pirate Life Beer, Go Pro, G-Shock and Thredbo Resort.
1. Indiana HICKMAN
2. Madeline LLOYD
3. Tessa CANNING
1. Gabe HARDWICK
2. Dusty LANE
3. Oliver IRWIG
1. Ally HICKMAN
2. Clementine WALL
3. Neve WHITE
1. Pantxo WALL
2. Juan GEORGE
3. Zephyr WHITELAW-HOLMES
1. Wiki JONES
2. Nickie RODGER
3. Marguerite COSSETTINI
1. Ben MATES
2. Adrian BORCHERDS
3. Max WINDSHUTTLE
1. Tess COADY
2. Freya HAMMERLEIN
3. Juliette PELCHAT
1. Karel VAN GOOR
2. Valentino GUSELI
3. Scotty JAMES