ESPN’s popular Winter X-Games recently announced it was dropping ski and boarder-cross from the events list, shocking the sport and its fans. Warren Miller Entertainment athlete Daron Rahlves, an Olympic medalist in ski racing, as well as in skier-cross at the X-Games was one of those caught off guard, and disappointed, by the decision.
Rahlves, however, as a passionate racer and fan of ski and boarder cross had already created his own imaginative version of the event – and named it the Rahlves Banzai Tour. A mix of ski racing, big mountain skills and Chinese downhill, the event is open to the public. Racers run four at a time from the top of mountain to the bottom, over varied and natural terrain…hand-selected by Rahlves.
The races haves been steadily gaining in popularity since Rahlves organized the first race in 2009, and an official 4-stop tour in 2011. The event scored an appearance in last year’s WME film and on NBC’s Red Bull Signature Series. We caught up with Rahlves to find out more about his tour and why it might be great training for the pros despite the X-Games disappointment.
My goal is to provide the best ski and snowboard race on the planet where the most skilled, calculated, creative and aggressive natural terrain skier/rider with finesse will come out on top. With four at a time anything can happen and the fastest doesn't usually win. What makes this event so relatable is it's held on open runs off the groomers that the public skis. I set the track with the emphasis on flow, terrain, speed changes and overall fun. No one type of ski is an advantage - run whatcha brung!
The loss of the X-Games could be a great opportunity for the Rahlves' Banzai Tour in getting more competitors and big names to compete. There is no other event like this in the world. The prize money makes a nice pay-day, and the title of Banzai Champ is well respected.
I'd like to see the big guns come out and give it a shot. There will be competition from the locals and others who come out for these events that know how to get down the mountain.
I hope they're not scared of putting their reputation on the line. Come on. How'd you get to that level anyway?
For 2013 the Rahlves' Banzai Tour is planning on four stops like last year. It will take place in February and March 2013. All events will be in the Tahoe area, with a cap of 150 competitors at each event 2012 it was a huge success. Then we have the "Super Finals" where I race against the men ski winners from each stop. It's the only time on tour I get in the mix to put my title of "Banzai Master" on the line and a wad of cash waiting for the winner if I'm dethroned. Fortunately in 2012 I kept the title and was able to pay the rest of the tour's bills.
Registration will be open December 2012 on the website and is open to men and women skiers and snowboarders, 18-years old and up. We also raise money for The High Fives Foundation to do good for our community on top of a wild event. It will be a good time for everyone involved with parties on top of the action. Race dates will be posted on www.rahlvesbanzai.com.