Think you can snowboard faster down a mountain than Seth Wescott?

That’s what 100 riders are hoping to do when they churn out turns in the inaugural Sugarloaf Banked Slalom today at 10 a.m.

The race isn’t just intended to pit mere mortals against Maine’s two-time Olympic gold medalist, but also to serve as a way to bring together the snowboarding community for an old-school race that doesn’t include rails, jumps or 180-degree flips.

“It’s been the running joke here,” said Sugarloaf events manager Ben Rush. “We were trying to come up with some weird board design and make (Wescott) ride it backwards. But from the standpoint of getting the event off the ground, it’s been great having him involved.”

The event is modeled after the Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom, a storied race in Washington state that has been attracting riders since the dawn of snowboarding. It’s widely considered the first organized snowboarding race.

Wescott has competed in that event many times.

“To me, it’s always been one of the coolest events,” said Wescott. “You’ll have kids from 6 years old to 66 doing it.

“It was really the first race that ever happened in snowboarding, and it’s just a really fun day to get all these riders of different ability levels together enjoying it.”

The Sugarloaf course starts atop the Double Bitter trail and finishes in Stomping Grounds Terrain Park. Each rider will be able to take two runs.

It will have the general look of a snowboardcross course with banked walls at the turns and slalom gates for reference. It just won’t have the hairpin turns, rollers or jumps built in like an SBX course has.

Riders will compete in five age categories: 14-and-under, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39 and 40-plus. The pro division is expected to include just Wescott and halfpipe medalist Ross Powers, a longtime friend from Vermont.

Don’t think Wescott will be taking it easy.

The only modification he plans is to use a regular powder board, not a World Cup racing board.

“I’m going to try, for sure,” said Wescott. “It’ll be pretty fun to see how it goes. I think it will be a microcosm of Sugarloaf.”

Wescott has been shoveling and handshaping the turns every night this week with organizers, including his friend Johnny Warren, who helped conceptualize the race.

“Nobody is going to beat Seth,” said Warren. “But it’s always fun to see how you ride against him. I’m sure he’s going to blow me away by a number of seconds.”

The overall vibe of the race, said Warren, should be laid-back fun, the same principle that built the sport back in the 1980s.

“This race is to unite the snowboarding community in Maine, to come together and enjoy snowboarding for the sport,” said Warren. “It’s about bringing your board to the mountain, riding on a trail.

“And sometimes the overall riders will surprise you. You’ll see people you weren’t even aware of.”

And hey, said Rush, why not challenge a gold medalist.

“It’ll be interesting to see how some of the local, hard-core guys stand against an Olympic champion,” Rush said.

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: [email protected]