Generally at this point in the proceedings Andy and I lose control and Omar takes over. He's got way more experience when it comes to getting things done, Kashmiri style and excels on the organisational side of things. That's just as well because by the time we get to this point the fatigue from three days hard grafting has set in and we sit quietly as the competitors arrive. Registration is a breeze and by the end we have hit over 20 sign ups; plenty of locals representing alongside folks from Australia, Czech Republic, Japan, Scotland and South Africa. We had people competing in all categories and late registration on the morning of the event bumped the numbers up closer to 30. Considering we were hosting the event almost two weeks late and the vast majority of the Westerners had peeled out of town, we were satisfied by the turnout. The Banked Slalom is more about giving the local snowboarders an event for them to compete in and call their own, so we were really stoked that over half of the total competitors were Kashmiri.
|The crew at the starting mound. stoked! pic: Omar|
As I mentioned in the last blog post, an ideal HBS would see a bit of snow on the course overnight and then bluebird the next day. We got one out of two. Overnight we got a couple of inches that made the course look pretty in the morning. Or so we would have seen if it hadn't been snowing and cloudy. We had to set the course and laid out bamboo posts fro the flags and set the nets on the difficult corners. Mercifully the cloud was lifting and you could see from top to bottom. While the snow kept falling and falling we continued to make ready and the competitors arrived. Due to the cold temperatures and abundance of snow we were unable to use the timing equipment as the batteries don't last long enough. Not to fear though we had the next best thing: a Swiss resident with a stopwatch!
|Men's Champ 2015: Mudasir pic: Andy|
As we had a shorter course and more time we decided to change the format to three runs per person.thier legs and work out the fastest line down the course. Even with our insistence that these runs should be taken slowly and used as a way to familiarise yourself with the turns; several people took it upon themselves to go hell for leather and we were patching up berms and resetting safety nets even during practice! As the day continued so did the snow fall which made for an experience akin to riding a powder covered rollercoaster. This meant for a much slower course however going by the enthusiasm of some riders it was probably a good thing for the injury count, which is still zero. A raucous atmosphere was present, with spectators and competitors cheering and hollering, as the first of the competitors dropped in. The high spirits continued throughout the day, as did the snow!
The best two times combined would give us a winner. We even had time for practice runs to let everyone get
Everybody took three runs then we fuelled them with Kawha and lunch prepared by our hotel sponsor. The Pisten Bully did make a reappearance and was used to ferry people from finish to start. The level of riding was varied. We saw some people getting low, pushing through the berms and reading the course well. Others were not so experienced and had difficulty on the course. Overall most people made it down competently and those that were new to this type of competition always have next year to redeem themselves. Having only ever had the opportunity to ride this sort of course once before, in last year's HBS, it was great to see the local boys giving it their all. There have to be winners at these sorts of competitions and this year was no exception. We kept the results huddled under our snow soaked jackets and told everyone to come to the award ceremony.
|The best uphill lift available, Pisten Bully Power! pic: Omar|
Prize giving was hosted at the same hotel, which prepared our lunches, Khaleel Palace. We all rolled in there suitably late but it's Kashmiri time so we were still early. Beers appeared and we got in the mood for another strange award ceremony. Ferried into the room we were then made to wait, for an extra 20 minutes, for our guest of honour. Lots of pics were getting snapped and the whole thing reminded me of school prize giving from my younger days. All in all, it's actually a lot of fun as it's a very alien ceremony compared to what you'd imagine it to be. For example, you'd probably expect such a party to go late into the night, with some wildness familiar to ski town apres. Not in Kashmir. Here it's all about speeches and certificates. But hey "This my dear is Kashmir" so you just got to roll with the punches.
|2nd in Mens open, Richard looking solid.|
The overall Open mens result went down to the wire. A dead heat between local speedster Mudasir therefore took top honours. The open womens was light on entrants and saw a battle between Scotland and the Czech Republic. The Czech women was victorious and took home the trophy. The junior mens saw the second win by Mehraj Khan, unfortunately he moves into open mens category next season and the threepeat is out of reach. Watchout guys, this kid is fast.
and Australian import Richard required the third run to be counted. Mudasir had the best three runs on the day and
For those that are interested here are the results;
So that's a 2nd Annual Himalayan Banked Slalom in the bag. Proving we're here to stay and that this event should start getting a bit more recognition. While both years have thrown up varying challenges we've had such a fantastic support network that we always managed to overcome. To everyone that helped or competed in any capacity our great thanks. We hope to see you all again next year, snow permitting, we'll be back in the Banked Slalom gully!
|That's a wrap for 2015, see you in 2016. pic: Andy|