[Arthur Longo's effortless carving got him through the RBS berms quickest on the day. Photos: Sami Tuoriniemi unless noted]
The carve was most certainly reclaimed as over 200 riders - from rookies to super pros to legends - converged on the legendary resort of Riksgränsen last weekend.
The fourth edition of the Riks Banked Slalom, carved into the iconic terrain of Riksgränsen in northern Sweden, was most certainly one for the books as an all-star cast of riders from across the planet, eager ams and local heroes made the pilgrimage to this Mecca of snowboarding.
The RBS is now in its fourth year, and has gone from a small gathering of 30 snowboarders to this year's incarnation when there were way over 200 eager shreddders frothing to pit their edge skills against the serpentine berms weaving down the Snobben off-piste area, just off the resort's top lift.
Riks's weather is predictable in its unpredictability, so it was common to have all four seasons occurring over a one-minute period, and though bluebird was preferable everyone knew the score and there were no complaints if a rider's lottery number meant a flat light greybird run was the lot drawn.
The course was deceptive. On first glance you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a mellow affair that you could cruise down if racing wasn't your cuppa; it was upon riding it you discovered it was anything but – to get through in a time under 1.5 minutes required a true mastery of one's edges as there were a host of tight turns just waiting to spit you out. It really separated the wheat from the chaff, and was a visible barometer on the riders' knowledge of their tools.
By the time the finals rolled around, skies remained mercifully clearer than that of the earlier rounds. Young to old, men and women... everyone who was in the finals was there for a reason and witnessing the way the finalists were negotiating the turns was awesome to take in. From old legends like Terje and Ingemar, to the current crop of riders such as Jake Blauvelt, Louif Paradis and Elias Elhardt, all the way down to the mini rippers representing snowboarding's future, there was some seriously hard charging on display.
But, no matter how good your turns and flow looked, it all came down to time. And there was one dude who was faster than everyone else through the two runs of the day, and that was Arthur Longo. Arthur has been coming back from a wrist injury sustained at the start of the year and when watching him race down it appeared he was staying true to his word of 'just chilling, taking it easy and having fun,' but appearances can be deceptive as he smoked the field with the most rapid run of the afternoon. It also helped that through years riding the pipe he possesses some of the best edge control in the game, something a certain Terje Haakonsen can also claim as he snagged the second fastest time and the men's Masters crown in the process.
Like the other banked slaloms that have mushroomed up in recent years, the RBS was about much more than simply posting the fastest time, though. Taking part, being there and hanging out with like-minded homies just enjoying snowboarding was what it was all about, so in our books everyone who made it up into the arctic circle was a winner. Thanks heaps to Anders Neuman at Transition Magazine, all the organisers, shapers and resort crew. It was most certainly awesome.
Junior Women - Jacky de Jong 1.35,41 1 - Netherlands
Junior Men - Ruben Rosenfors 1.13,248 - Sweden
Women Masters - Cecilia Larsen 1.19,308 - Sweden
Women - Irene Zimmermann 1.16,636 - Switzerland
Real Masters - David Ny 1.17,989 - Sweden
Masters - Terje Haakonsen 1.06,781 - Norway
Seniors - Arthur Longo 1.05,905 - France