"Pure snowboarder" Jack Freysinger wants to cap his journey of little more than a decade from being prince of the trash hills to king of the mountain.
Well, make that one of the kings of the mountain, since several divisional champions will be crowned Sunday, Feb. 10, in Mount Baker's annual Legendary Banked Slalom. The event begins Friday with two days of competition to cut the field for Sunday.
After winning his division in the recent local qualifier, the 24-year-old Freysinger would love to become one of those snow kings.
"But if I don't win, well, there's always snowboarding the next day, and the next day, and the next day ... ," Freysinger said.
You guessed it - Freysinger works all summer so he can snowboard all winter. The Legendary Banked Slalom just happens to be a cool break in his recreational routine.
Freysinger fell in love with Mount Baker the first time he visited six years ago while on a family trip from Wisconsin to Alaska.
"I began snowboarding as a kid on these horrible little trash hills," he said, explaining how he learned to snowboard on the prairie of southern Wisconsin. "They cover trash (landfills) with dirt and bring snow in."
There is, of course, regular snow in Wisconsin, but not nearly enough to create conditions anywhere near like Mount Baker.
"I'm shooting for a gold in the older amateur division (men up to 29)," he said. "This will be my fifth time in the event. The first two years I did OK (with a top 10 finish, as he recalls), and then I won silver and bronze the next two years. But last year, I fell on both my runs."
As a result of falling, he had to enter the local qualifier last month.
"I won by about a second, in one minute and 11.8 seconds," said Freysinger, who lives near Maple Falls. "Now I really want to finish in the top 25 percent Friday and make the cut, because that lets me party on Friday night."
Otherwise, he'll have to be in top physical and mental condition Saturday, when snowboarders can try again to make the cut for the finals Sunday.
Freysinger calls the Legendary Banked Slalom "soul carving."
"It's the most basic judgment of a snowboarder's ability. It's no tricks, just turning and staying on the snow," said Freysinger, who likes to "catch air" for fun, but not in competition. "It's pure snowboarding, and I'm a pure snowboarder."
Freysinger said there were "no sports at all" for him during his school years in Milwaukee - except for skateboarding in the summers and snowboarding on those trash hills in the winter.
"My dad (Alan) is an enthusiastic skier and my older brother (Griffin) is a surfer who lives in Hawaii," said Freysinger, explaining the trio's adventurous winter vacation trip from Wisconsin to Alaska when Jack was 18.
"We stopped in Bellingham for one day and went to Baker," he said. "I was hooked. I had heard about Baker, and it was everything I expected. I was definitely determined to get back here."
The next year, he bought a 1991 Subaru Legacy from his brother and took a leisurely one-month tour of the western half of the country on the way to settling in Whatcom County.
"I got here in October of 2007, just in time for orientation and the snow season," he said. "I was fortunate enough to get a job at White Salmon Lodge making sandwiches."
Last summer, Freysinger worked in Alaskan waters as a deckhand for a tugboat company. He saved enough money to take time off this winter to snowboard.
"Everyone should have a passion, and mine is snowboarding," he said.
He's thrilled that conditions figure to be excellent this weekend.
"It's looking real good. Last year, the professionals set out a mean course and it froze before the older amateurs competed," he said. "It was like slot car racing for us. I fell both times. Mentally, I felt I was trying too hard, since I had won a silver and a bronze and I wanted that gold. And I definitely felt the pressure (Jan. 21) in the local qualifier this year, since you get only one run."
For those who aren't into snow sports, Freysinger says it's "hard to describe" the attraction.
"I just love Mount Baker and I just love snowboarding," he said.