The third round of the Daron Rahlves’ Banzai Tour comes to Squaw Valley ski resort this weekend. The popular racing series for skiers and snowboarders will get a serious challenge on Squaw’s famed KT-22 run.
“The KT-22 Banzai is always one of the most exciting parts of the tour because of the great view of the course from the base of the mountain,” Rahlves said. “Spectators get to watch athletes give it their all down the face of KT-22, which embodies everything the Banzai Tour is really about; the competition, athleticism, and most importantly, the enjoyment and camaraderie of the ski and snowboard community.”
Banzai Finals March 9-10 at Sugar Bowl
The Banzai Tour culminates with the “Super Finals” where five people racing down a steep, edgy, roller-coaster type terrain at Sugar Bowl ski resort on March 9-10.
And the man to beat in the finals is none other than Rahlves, a U.S. Olympic skier who has won the previous two Banzai finals. In February, Banzai Tour events were held at Kirkwood Mountain Resort and Alpine Meadows.
The winner of the Super Finals takes home a sweet $10,000 check that will make this one extremely memorable day.
In last year’s 2012 qualifying run, Rahlves took first place and was followed by Casey Riva of Telluride.
“Competing against Daron was pretty surreal,” said Riva, who is skiing this week in the opening event at Kirkwood. “I was in the starting gate right next to Rahlves and when the gate dropped my only thought was – ‘Whoa, he is fast.’ I was able to make up a bunch of ground to make it a close finish, but it was challenging coming from the third position. I look forward to trying my luck again this season.”
Banzai includes snowboarders
The Banzai Tour is also a competition that includes snowboarders. There is a men’s and women’s competition in both snowboarding and skiing. The total purse for the Banzai Tour is $80,000. Competitors must be aged 18-above.
It’s not necessary to compete in all four events to earn a place in the men’s ski finals against Rahlves, a Lake Tahoe skiing product. Skiers need to win at one of the following locations below to earn a spot in the finals. If there is a repeat winner, the top second-place finisher will be awarded a slot in the finals.
Squaw Creek hosts Banzai party Friday
At Squaw on Friday night, competing athletes, sponsors, media and special guests are invited to the event kick-off. The Rahlves' Banzai Welcome Party is from 4-6 p.m. at Sandy’s Pub at the Resort at Squaw Creek.
The welcome party ends right in time for athletes to participate in the annual opening ceremony torchlight parade.
On Saturday after the solo qualifying timed runs to seed Sunday’s Finals and heats of four, all competing athletes, sponsors, media and fans are invited to celebrate all things Banzai from 3-6 p.m. at Le Chamois for the Rahlves' Banzai Après Party thrown by High Fives Foundation. One dollar from each Sierra Nevada beer and Red Bull drink purchased throughout the après party will be donated to High Fives.
Racing at its purest form
The Banzai Tour showcases racing in its purest form: four competitors at one time going head-to-head over natural terrain in ski and boarder-cross-style action at four Lake Tahoe ski resorts. There are qualifying heats at each venue where money prizes are awarded to the top finishers that particular weekend.
“What’s so unique about this race is every-day rippers line up against pro-level athletes and have a shot at the title of Rahlves Banzai champ,” said Rahlves, who created the event. “It’s a competition among competitors. But ultimately, it’s against the mountain.”
“There’s no other race like this. So much can go wrong out there. Anyone can win,” said Marcus Caston of Utah, one of last year’s top skiers who earned $1,900.
Banzai Tour dates:
• March 2-3: Squaw Valley
• March 9-10: Sugar Bowl
Registration is still open for the final two stops on the Banzai Tour. Visit www.rahlvesbanzai.com for details and to register.