Rahlves’ Banzai Tour stops at Kirkwood Mountain Resort this weekend
If you go
What: Rahlves’ Banzai Tour
When: Saturday and Sunday, March 7-8
Where: Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Tickets: Lift-accessed required for best viewing
The Wall at Kirkwood Mountain Resort is often associated with signs, bearing a skull and crossbones, warning beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders that maybe this area isn’t for them. But expert snow sliders will make quick work of the steep face when Rahlves’ Banzai Tour takes to the terrain this week. The second stop of the three-stop tour will be held this weekend, with qualifiers running Saturday and championship races taking place Sunday. The events feature skiers or snowboarders racing four at a time over natural terrain in search of the fastest line.
Kirkwood’s course features big, sweeping turns at the top and narrow, winding turns near the bottom and gives spectators plenty of opportunities to take in the action.
“This track is insane,” said Daron Rahlves, a former Wold Cup skiing champion and organizer of the tour, in a video posted for the event. “It’s so much fun.”
Kirkwood received 18 inches of snow from recent storms and organizers have been inspecting the course in hopes of starting from the top of the Wall, said Kirkwood spokesman Kevin “Coop” Cooper on Tuesday. Low snow levels last year forced organizers to start from just below the peak of the Wall.
Cooper said the new snow has set up chalky conditions in the zone, which should provide favorable conditions for racers.
“It should be great skiing and riding,” Cooper said.
Spectators can get a good view of the racers from Chair 10. Spectators also gather at the finish line and the Flight Deck, a step-down jump that sees racers launching anywhere from 40-50 feet, Cooper said. The feature represents the transition point from the sweeping turns at the top of the course to Snow Snake Gully, the twisting natural halfpipe described by Rahlves as a “roller coaster.”
Kirkwood does not allow uphill hiking, so spectators are required to have lift access. The Flight Deck and finish line can be reached via Chair 11, also known as The Reut, as well as Chair 10.
The race has moved from a physical battle for position to a more technical race over the years, with competitors picking their moves more carefully throughout the course, Cooper said.
Regardless of how racers get there, it’s always a pitched battle to get to the bottom.
“You never know who is going to win until it’s over,” Cooper said.
The Banzai Tour concludes March 14-15 with the classic Silver Belt Banzai at Sugar Bowl. Rahlves, as well as X Games champion Nate Holland are among those expected to compete in the conclusion of the series.
“It’s just a really good time,” Cooper said of the tour.
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