Big White hosts 20th Annual Neil Edgeworth Banked Slalom
The event originally started in 1997 as a memorial contest for snowboarding legend and Big White local Neil Edgeworth, who died in an avalanche in France in 1997. With others lost along the way since then, such as Greg Todds and Craig Kelly, the event has turned into a gathering for snowboarders of all ages to remember these athletes and the true nature of the sport itself.
A record number of participants – 320 in total - took part in this year’s slalom over two days, March 25 and 26. The youngest participant was six years old and the oldest was 63 years old.
Flynn Seddon, Big White Ski Resort’s Director of Terrain Parks and Outdoor Events, said that this year’s event truly embraced the spirit of bringing friends together in the nature of the sport.
“This year saw many snowboarders make the pilgrimage to the Banked Slalom for the first time, coming from across North America,” said Seddon. “Their efforts truly echoed what the event is about – remembering lost friends, making new friends and reminiscing and catching up with old friends.”
The benefit of the banked slalom race format is that snowboarders of all ages and abilities can ride the same course, which is carved out of a natural gully beside the Ridge Rocket chairlift.
“Whether you’re a six-year-old or a professional athlete, everyone can participate in this event at this multi-age venue,” explains Seddon.
The fastest time from the weekend went to 36-year-old Tom Velisek from Whistler, with a time of 1:24:09. 29-year-old Stephanie Haines took out the fastest time for the ladies, clocking in at 1:29:65 and making history as the first to win the Female Pro category four years in a row.
The grand prize of $5000 from industry sponsors was equally distributed between the top three pro winners from the men's and women’s categories, with another $10,000 worth of prizing awarded to winners across the various other categories. The top three winners from each category also took home a custom trophy.
The “Spirit Award”, a trophy guitar built every year by Art Abrahams of Artavox guitars, was awarded to Dustin Ferris, a longtime icon in the Big White snowboarding scene. “Dustin exuberates the true meaning of snowboarding – always positive, always helping and always there to support in every which way that could be asked of him,” explained Seddon.
The countdown now begins for next year’s annual Neil Edgeworth Banked Slalom. “We’ve really seen what an impact this event has on individual people,” added Seddon. “That’s the pure true power of what this event is all about. This Banked Slalom has cemented itself in the history of snowboarding and will co ntinue to do so for many more years to come.”