The Rahlves' Banzai Tour is in the midst of its exciting 2012 big mountain free-skiing-meets-skier/boarder-cross event series in Tahoe. Where ski cross is like supercross on a manicured track, the Rahlves' Banzai is like motocross on the mountain! With stops at Kirkwood and Alpine Meadows concluded, this rousing competition makes its way to Squaw Valley this weekend, Mar. 3-4 and will wrap with a finale not to be missed at Sugar Bowl on Mar. 10-11.
The Rahlves' Banzai Tour's third stop at Squaw Valley this weekend coincides with the kick-off of SnowFest, North Tahoe and Truckee's annual ten-day spring celebration that offers locals and visitors lots of options for events and activities in which to partake. Spectators are encouraged to come out and cheer on the Rahlves' Banzai Tour contenders slope-side as Squaw Valley will stage the race from the top of KT-22.
The final stop on the tour at Sugar Bowl and the closing weekend for SnowFest, where the race originated, will feature a "Super Final" race in which former World Champion, 12 time World Cup winner and four time Olympic skier Daron Rahlves will race against the four top finishers in the men's skiing division from each stop on this year's tour. This grand conclusion will not disappoint, as it provides the only opportunity during the tour to witness Rahlves putting his technical skills to the test against the best of the downhill ski racers who will be vying to take home the title of Banzai Master and a cash prize of $10,000, winner takes all.
There's still time for competitors, ages 18 and up to enter in the men's and women's ski and snowboard divisions for the last two stops on the tour at www.rahlvesbanzai.com
"There is no other race like this in the world," said Rahlves. "People need to plan their trip to Tahoe these next two weekends and come check this out." The fresh dose of snow that the region is receiving should make for excellent conditions come Saturday.
The Rahlves' Banzai Tour ranks as one of the world's ultimate tests of skiing and snowboarding prowess, as Tahoe-based skiers and riders go head-to-head with competitors from out of the area. Locals who claim these mountains as their own and who are intimately familiar with their home turf's terrain, are the ones to beat. The race format sets up four racers at a time, who ascend the wide open course. Watching the racers line up shoulder to shoulder in heats of four, and then skillfully navigate the un-groomed terrain all at once, adapting to race day conditions and battling it out, is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
With snowboard legends such as Shaun Palmer and Jayson Hale who are both on the U.S. Snowboard Team and Winter X-Games medalists competing against weekend warriors and a mix of other notables such as Chelone Miller and Sylvain Duclos, spectators are in for a treat. Skiing contenders include John Bochenek, Jesse Maddex, 2011 Rahlves' Banzai Tour Overall Winner Marcus Caston and South Lake's Kyle Smaine who took top honors last weekend at Alpine Meadows on the men's ski side, and Shelly Robertson currently leading the standings over Keely Kelleher and Shannon Rahlves in the women's ski division from the Kirkwood and Alpine Meadows tour stops. Female snowboard stand-outs from this year's tour to date include Casey Lucas, Mallory Olney, Rose Marie Daiek and Carrie Hall.
Make plans to catch the high-speed action at Squaw Valley Sat. Mar. 3 and Sun. Mar. 4 and at Sugar Bowl Resort on Sat. Mar. 10 and Sun. Mar. 11. Those who cannot come out and revel in the fresh snow should set their DVRs to catch a recap of the tour, set to air on NBC Sports Network on Mar. 27 as part of the Red Bull Signature Series broadcast.
Check out this link for more information on the Red Bull Signature Series: http://www.redbullsignatureseries.com
For those who are curious about the tour's name, Banzai is a Japanese term expressed as an exuberant cheer meaning "Long Life!" or "Hurray!" An apt name for a high-spirited downhill ski and snowboard competition, the Silver Belt Banzai Race first took place in the 1940s at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort and was re-introduced with a twist by Daron Rahlves and Sugar Bowl in 2009. The race continued in its same format for another year, and then Rahlves decided to take the show on the road, officially launching the Rahlves' Banzai Tour and expanding to three stops in 2011 and now four stops for 2012. Building on the tour's success and evolution, Rahlves has designated the worthy High Fives organization as the tour's official non-profit, while leveraging big name sponsors such as Red Bull, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Contour and CEP "intelligent sportswear," Giro, Spyder, Atomic, Start Haus Ski Shop, Wend Wax, COAL, Snowbomb.com, LiftTickets.com, World Cup Supply, North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, Tahoe TV, ZINKA, Sports Insurance, Resort at Squaw Creek, Bose / Squaw Valley Electric and CRUX Events thereby creating an alluring $80,000 purse for the top contenders.
For more information, to register or to check out race results, visit www.rahlvesbanzai.com