In this week's edition of Extreme Exposure—a weekly column featuring news and photography from the world of action and outdoor sports—Bald Face Lodge hosts banked slalom event while Shiffrin dominates.
Rookies Rage at Bells Beach
While Australia’s Bells Beach was doing its typical weird thing—completely mushy one day, blown out and stormy the next—World Surf League competitors were at their best, especially the new generation of rookies, who ruled the day in Round 3 this weekend, upending seasoned vets right and left.
Santa Barbara, Calif., native Conner Coffin pulled off perhaps the most shocking of those upsets when he knocked Joel Parkinson out of the competition, showing patience beyond his years (a result, many say, of the uptick in competition at the Qualifying Series level). With time winding down, Coffin had priority and needed a big score. Parkinson, ever the wily veteran, did his best to bait the 22-year-old rookie into taking a poor wave but Coffin waited it out and with 1:50 on the clock found a wall that held up and put in his best effort, scoring an 8.17 to send “Parko” packing. Last year’s QS tour champ, Caio Ibelli then eliminated John John Florence from Bells and Australian rookie Davey Cathels bid Gabriel Medina adieu in the final heat of the day. In just the second event the rookie class is already making a serious impact on the 2016 World Tour.
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Mikaela Shiffrin is Killing It
Mikaela Shiffrin has had an absolutely mind-blowing season. Mostly because she returned from a campaign-threatening knee injury to finish out a ridiculous year that could have been even better. While she didn’t win the slalom world cup title, her specialty, she won all five races she entered. Then this weekend, at the U.S. Alpine Championships in Sun Valley, admittedly facing lesser competition, she won her 11th straight slalom event, this time by some six seconds. On Sunday, she captured the national championship in giant slalom as well—a relative surprise for the 21-year-old phenom. “It’s nice to make it to the finish in a GS race,” she said. Nice because Shiffrin winning in other disciplines bodes well for her chances of capturing a coveted overall World Cup title down the road. Thus far in her career, she’s been slalom centric, but to take an overall globe, she needs to be able to podium in alpine’s other disciplines. Definitely an interesting story to watch for the 2016-17 season.
Now this is a seriously-cool competition. And seriously rootsy. During the late season Bald Face Lodge—a fly-in ski and snowboard destination near Nelson, British Columbia where riders can sample the seemingly endless backcountry terrain using a snowcat—is hosting its Zig Zag Banked Slalom event. In a three-week competition window (March 21-April 13) any snowboarder can enter a time in the event (they just have to get themselves to the remote locale). The pros laid down the gauntlet last week when they set the course times so that the everyday rider can see where they are in the comp. So far, X Games Aspen superpipe silver medalist Ben Ferguson has the top time at 1:10. The lodge is hosting day trips April 8-10.
Banked Slalom—where riders navigate fast, twisting courses that often meander through wooded areas—has seen a resurgence in the last few years as there’s been a return to more core competitions in the sport that buck the now mainstream convention of regular high-flying events that many in the industry have deemed unapproachable to regular riders. Banked slalom is definitely something most any snowboarder can relate to as there is no air element. Just fast, fun riding with banked turns.