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Big Sky snowboarder notches fifth win at ‘Legendary’ competition



By Tyler Allen EBS Senior Editor

BIG SKY – Tanya Simonson had just one chance Feb. 21 to cement her legacy at the 30th Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom in Washington’s Cascade Mountains, and she didn’t let the opportunity pass her by.

Each competitor in the finals of this venerated snowboarding contest has two runs to post their fastest time, but due to a last-minute scheduling change the Big Sky local missed her first start.

Yet one run was all Simonson needed to win the Women Masters division by more than a second over Rel Friedman of Claremont, Calif. With a time of 2 minutes, 18.31 seconds, Simonson locked up her fifth title and was joined on the podium by fellow Montanan Audra Bintz of Red Lodge, who placed third.

Simonson plans to race in the Pro Master division next season, along with Missoula’s Sarris McComb who bested Simonson in this winter’s Smash Life Banked Slalom at Big Sky Resort.

“I’ll be racing [Pro Master] next year because I can’t keep sandbagging it,” she said, adding that the weekend is more camaraderie than competition. “Nobody is there being super competitive – everybody is there having a good time.”

And the good times were amplified this year by nearly 3 feet of snow that fell at Mt. Baker before the weekend finals. Simonson was able to enjoy the powder instead of competing in the Thursday and Friday qualifiers since she was invited to the finals as a “Legend” thanks to her previous wins.

L-R: Tanya Simonson, Rel Friedman and Audra Bintz celebrate on the podium at Mt. Baker Feb. 21.

L-R: Tanya Simonson, Rel Friedman and Audra Bintz celebrate on the podium at Mt. Baker Feb. 21.

Simonson took home more than $2,500 in gear and merchandise, including a custom Jamie Lynn snowboard, which she plans to hang on her wall instead of ride. Watching Lynn and other snowboarding legends race is a big draw for the more than 400 competitors in the annual banked slalom.

“I got to watch Terje [Haakonsen] race which was rad,” Simonson said, adding the course and viewing conditions – with a backdrop of Mount Shuksan and other glaciated peaks – were the best she’s ever seen. “It had been snowing and the vis was terrible the first two days, but it opened up for the weekend.”

The Bozeman native spent more than half a decade living in both Bellingham, Wash., near Mt. Baker, and Whistler, British Columbia. Simonson credits that time, as well as the balance of her experience riding at Bridger Bowl and Big Sky Resort, for her banked slalom success.

“I’ve done it for so long that I feel like I kind of have an edge,” she said. “I’ve always been kind of competitive.”

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