Banked slaloms rule. They're accessible to every level of rider, they bring together riders from multiple generations and they're a perfect throwback to snowboarding's humble beginnings.
The Sudden Rush banked slalom in Laax was conceived a few years back by Terje Haakonsen and Nicolas Müller, and we hope that this 2017 edition was the third of many more to come.
With the help of Laax's legendary snowpark crew, Terje and Nico had hand-shaped what Haakonsen described before the race began as one of the most 'technically challenging' courses he'd ridden to date. And he wasn't lying.
With some near vertical banks that (almost) resembled the walls of Laax's record-breaking superpipe, and some incredibly tight and compression-riddled turns, this course certainly presented a challenge for all who dared hurl themselves down it...
Like last year's event, the weather decided not to cooperate on race day, with super-strong winds forcing the gondola up to the start of the course to close. Fortunately, most of the competitors managed to make it over to the course in time, although it meant that only one run per rider would be possible instead of the planned two.
Regardless, the show went on, with riders dropping into the course in quick succession. With categories for masters, pros and everyone else, it was sick to see how each rider tackled the technical banks and turns in their own way. Nicolas Müller and Terje Haakonsen looked smooth and rapid as ever, alongside a whole host of other big names like Forest Bailey, Anne Flore Marxer, Fredi Kalbermatten, and more all getting involved.
In the end, it was highest air world record holder, halfpipe master and all-round boss of snowboarding Christian Haller who posted the fastest time of the day, beating usual victor Terje Haakonsen to the top spot. Did we mention that he didn't even have the chance to take a single practice run either? Insane. On the women's side of things halfpipe ripper Ariane Staib-Glaus was the fastest through the course.
Laax certainly has a habit of delivering the goods, and even though the two feet of snow that fell overnight meant the planned family event and fakie race day for Sunday had to be cancelled, nobody was complaining about the chance to go and rip some powder!
Above: This is how the course looked on Sunday morning. 3, 2, 1... pow shred! Photo: Laax/Cyril Mueller
If you ever get the chance to ride a banked slalom, take it. There's nothing quite like the feeling of cruising through a technical course and the satisfaction of making it to the bottom, legs burning. The Laax Sudden Rush is one of the best chances to do this, and you're basically guaranteed to be rubbing shoulders with some of the best snowboarders on the planet.