Legendary Tahoe speed demon Daron Rahlves is bringing the Banzai to the people. After two years hosting (and winning) the Silver Belt Banzai ski race at Sugar Bowl, Rahlves has scheduled a full-on Banzai Tour that will bring head-to-head racing down natural terrain to three Tahoe resorts this winter. Tour stops include Alpine Meadows’ Beaver Bowl Banzai on January 22 and 23, Kirkwood’s Eagle Bowl Banzai on February 5 and 6, and Sugar Bowl’s Silver Belt Banzai on March 12 and 13. After the Sugar Bowl final, the men’s ski champs from each event will line up in the blocks with Rahlves for a $10,000 winner-takes-all super final race to decide the overall Banzai champ.
The races will be open to the public (ages 18 and up) with men and women’s ski and snowboard divisions. Competitors will take off four at a time and rally down an ungroomed off-piste race course. A $10,000 prize purse at each event should attract both the fastest locals and some talented out-of-towners, especially considering nobody has to beat Rahlves to earn it until the last heat of the series. The local Olympian will not compete until the super final at Sugar Bowl.
To catch the inside scoop on this momentous announcement, I caught up with Rahlves for a couple questions about the tour:
Moonshine Ink: Why are you excited about the Banzai Tour?
Daron Rahlves: I’m looking forward to how stoked the competitors will be skiing and snowboarding at the Banzai. This tour is a unique experience and will draw those who live for having a good time. The kick-off event at Alpine Meadows will be held on a great part of the mountain. I can’t wait to ski it and watch some good action! Then to have Kirkwood and Sugar Bowl as the next two stops will keep the good times going. It’s always exciting to watch and participate in a head-to-head format. Cash and cool prizes will add to the pride of being a Banzai Champ.
MI: Why is racing on natural terrain such a thrill?
DR: The skills come out on natural terrain. With a wide-open track it gives each competitor the chance to get creative with lines and tactics. Competing is in my blood and it excites me to face a challenge. The ultimate challenge is what’s naturally out there.
MI: Why are you not participating in the races other than the super final?
DR: My first plan was to compete in all the events, but then I heard from a lot of people that it wouldn’t be fair since I’d win every event. Or so they say. I’m always up for a battle, but anything can happen and there are guys out there that can beat me. I wanted to give them that chance. But, for the good of the tour, I backed out. The title, cash, and prizes will be there for the taking without me in the way. I will be at the events to give advice and do solo timed runs. Then at the Sugar Bowl super final I will take on the men’s ski winners from each stop. It will be intense as the prize money should be good incentive to throw down.
Info and registration at rahlvesbanzai.com.