Sunshine and smiles for banked slalom

Marlie Marchewka heads down the course on Hully Gully. Photo Bee Nikula

WRITTEN BY Courtney Jones

The 9th annual Bluebird Banked Slalom was held the first weekend in March, raising funds for the local Bluebird Day Fund.

Sunshine and warm conditions throughout the day followed by colder temperatures overnight led to an icy course for competitors, with deeper ruts and altered banks making any mistake a costly one.

Local Sun Peaks snowboarder Marlie Marchewka placed first in the Open Female Board, however it was not without error.

“It’s funny because I actually thought the race was over for me when I fell in the upper section on the fourth bank,” she said. “There are so many thoughts that run through your mind in such a small moment in time. My first thought was my race was over, but my second thought was to just get up and keep going. I pushed myself even harder for the rest of the race, hung on for dear life on a couple of banks and somehow I managed to make up some lost time up and finish the close race.”

Despite winning her event by 1.1 seconds, Marchewka was more focused on the overall time against her male counterparts.

“I was unable to successfully fulfill my friendly race rival goal against course co-ordinator Dom Koric, hats off to him,” Marchewka said. “The weather was perfect though and the sun was shining. Snow conditions for the two days didn’t fluctuate much, however the course did change, making it a bit more challenging with each run. The competitor stoke was high all weekend, the kids had a great day on Saturday and the event was capped off with Sunday’s adult race.”

A celebration on the podium. Photo Bee Nikula

Kieran Nikula, who placed first in the Open Male Ski, has been competing in the event since its beginning. 

“I grew up ski racing in the Nancy Greene program at Sun Peaks from a very young age,” he said. “I was never the fastest or the best ski racer and years of poor results suggested that racing wasn’t for me. I was so passionate about skiing from such a young age that I took to other parts of the sport such as freestyle and freeriding and did the best I could with the skills I learned in ski racing. I have raced in the Banked Slalom every year; it is the one event I will always try to be back at Sun Peaks for each year.”

This year’s event also marked the end of Kamloops store Oronge Board Shop’s support after announcing their closure earlier last month.

Both Marchewka and Nikula showed their sentiment toward Oronge owners Kent “Koach” Thiessen and David Kuan.

“They’ve been huge supporters of every Bluebird Day Fund event and played major roles into what it’s become today,” Marchewka said. “Koach and David, along with their love of the sport, have helped shape the snowboarding community in Sun Peaks for a quarter century.”

David Kuan and Kent “Koach” Thiessen at the start of the course. Photo Bee Nikula

Nikula said he believed the event was as much a weekend about the Bluebird Day Fund, racing and a good time, as it was about showing appreciation to the Oronge owners.

“They have played such a crucial role in not only the Banked Slalom event over the years, but also in the support and creation of the ski and snowboard scene at Sun Peaks as it is today.  I know that their role at Sun Peaks for decades has been an important one for so many young up and coming boarders and skiers,” Nikula said.