CARRABASSETT VALLEY – Olympic gold medalist Ross Powers hoisted a blue lobster trophy in the afternoon sun Saturday, winner of the inaugural Sugarloaf Banked Slalom in 1 minute, 18.36 seconds.

The race, which celebrated the roots of snowboarding, sent some 141 boarders ages 7 to 59 charging down the snarling banked turns of Double Bitter for a chance to compete against Seth Wescott, Maine’s two-time Olympic gold medalist and the race founder.

Some lost precious seconds to a missed gate or full-on crash.

That included Mr. Sugarloaf himself.

Wescott, who was shoveling and hand-shaping snow banks all week, finished third in the event after crashing twice in the first run, and running 1:24.02 in the second.

But in true snowboarding etiquette, he took it in stride.

“It’s all good,” said Wescott, resting in a lawn chair at the sun-swathed finish area. “This was super-fun. So good to see such a good turnout. It’s awesome for our first time.”

Powers, who traveled from Vermont to support Wescott, won halfpipe gold in the 2002 Olympics and attempted to make the snowboardcross team that went to Vancouver last winter.

His winning time was 1:18.36.

“What a super-fun race,” said Powers. “It was very challenging and I came out to charge. It was just a super-fun event.”

A friend of Powers — Kevin McMahon, a 36-year-old snowboarding coach from Vermont, took second place in 1:23.32.

“There were definitely some challenges in there,” said McMahon.

Course construction started Monday. Wescott and his friends were out there nightly, then had to recover after a rainstorm Thursday that nearly derailed things.

By 10 a.m., scores of skiers were waxing their boards at the start, lined up to have a shot.

The youngest racers went first — boys and girls under 14, followed by the 15-19 age group.

Then the twenty-somethings took off before the heavyweight class of 30-39 set off.

That group included Wescott, 33, Powers, 32, and many who were among the first generation to strap on a board.

“No pressure,” called a boarder from the crowd as Wescott turned up his ipod and was off through the gate and down the course.

He crashed twice, the first time completing a full somersault. He opted for a powder board rather than a racing board.

“I was really trying to go for it on that first run,” said Wescott. “I toned it down a little on that second run.”

After a first run, riders were set off in inverse order for a second run. The best time of the two runs stood.

“It was a really nice and loose, light atmosphere up there,” said Johnny Warren, one of the race organizers and a longtime friend of Wescott. “You wound up meeting people you might have seen a million times in the lift line but didn’t know.”

Some boarders ripped out their old school duds.

Like Jeff Meagher, a local who works as a night janitor at the mountain’s health club. He wore a skintight off-white Burton racing uniform with a wild day-glo pattern on the sleeves.

“It’s an original. Circa ’86,” he said. “I’ve owned it since 1993. Got it from a friend who owns a snowboarding shop. I’m happy just to finish.”

Most gave it all they had.

Like Jason Burrill, 40, of Yarmouth, a painter by trade, who took a sapling through the palm of his glove on turn No. 2 that opened a gash.

He raced on.

“That was tough. By the last five turns I was huffing and puffing,” said Burrill. “I knew there would be some good riders here. Maine has some really good riders.”

And Emily Eames, a junior at Carrabassett Valley Academy who won the 15-19-year-old age group for girls. She won in 1:42.

“Those turns were fun,” she said. “People were really relaxed and weren’t racing all serious. It was a lot of fun.”

The goal, said Warren, is to return next year bigger and better.

The field of racers was to be capped at 100. But in an effort to not turn a fellow snowboarder away, they let everyone in.

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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