[Mathieu Crepel wins the Bang Slalom. All photos: Blotto (unless stated).]
The inaugural edition of the annual Bang Slalom went down a storm in the Norwegian snowboarding mecca of Hemsedal this past weekend, with Frenchman and current man-to-beat Mathieu Crepel sealing the win and rounding off another memorable contest season.
Co-hosted by the legendary Terje Haakonsen, the Bang Slalom is the brainchild of local-boy-done-good and Nixon team rider Mikkel Bang. With two of Norway’s biggest names at the helm, the event had little trouble attracting the cream of both the Norwegian and international snowboarding scene. Among others, the likes of Erik Botner, Eirik Haugo, Roope Tonteri and DCP all converged for the occasion.
Subject to an unprecedented period of growth in popularity in recent years, the banked slalom is in actual fact the original competitive snowboarding discipline. Crepel tells it like it is: “Back in the day, it dawned on us that we as snowboarders should do things differently to skiers. So we started out by putting gates in natural halfpipes, and that’s how it all got started. I’ll bet it’s as fun today as it was back then – and not to mention more fun than skiing…"
With Bang and Haakonsen setting a fast and technical course, the bar was set for a very high yet friendly level of competition in what turned out to be challenging weather conditions.
And when all was said and done, nobody could beat Crepel’s time, who finished some three quarters of a second faster than his nearest rival in the pro division, Canadian Charles Reid, and exactly one second faster than third placed finisher Haakonsen.
Crepel, a former Halfpipe and Big Air World Champion, has proved on several occasions this season that he also carves a mean turn. The 31-year-old Nixon team rider won both the Legendary Banked Slalom at Mt. Baker and the second stop of the DC Hit & Run in Meribel just a couple of months back.
“I’m really happy I got to come here and ride with all these guys," said Crepel after being crowned champion. “It’s a great atmosphere, and it felt amazing to hear the noise of everyone cheering you as you came down the mountain. It’s events, with parties like these, that are the real roots and heart of snowboarding." added Crepel.
With the youngest participant just 7 years old and the eldest 66 years of age, there was a truly wide range of snowboarders passing through the Bang Slalom start gate. One that impressed most was 11-year-old Odin Røhrt, who came out on top in the 10-13 year old division. “It all went by so fast! It was my first time riding in a competition like this, and it was so cool to run in the same competition as Mikkel Bang and Terje Haakonsen!" said Odin.
Reflecting on the first edition of the annual Bang Slalom, Mikkel Bang said: “I'm super-happy; everyone had a good time, and that really is the whole point – everyone can get involved, and it was humbling to see how many snowboarders showed up yesterday. Keeping this spirit alive is something we need to focus on – it’s all part of board culture."
The Bang Slalom was made possible thanks to the support of the following brands and partners: Nixon, Oakley, Burton, Norsk Tipping, Skistar, Skigaarden and Hemsedal.com.