Rahlves’ Banzai Tour kicks off at Kirkwood
The first stop of this year’s Rahlves’ Banzai Tour took place this past weekend at Kirkwood.
After preliminaries on Saturday, the final rounds started around 11:30 a.m. Sunday under cloudless skies and temperatures reaching the high 50s.
Founded by former Olympic ski racer Daron Rahlves of Truckee, the tour is a mix of big mountain freeriding and skier and boardercross. Up to four competitors race head to head in each heat with hopes of winning a piece of the $15,000 prize split between the four final winners.
“It’s super challenging. I’ve never done this kind of racing before,” said Casey Lucas, who has been racing in this competition for the least three years and is a member of the Kirkwood Epic Pro Team. “You ride the nastiest mogul lines you can in the worst conditions to prepare you to get quick and sharp.”
Spectators were able to watch from the top of The Reut lift and have a clear view of the Alaska Airlines “flight deck”, one of the jumps on the course where competitors could show off. The person with the biggest air won $100 in Alaska Airline bucks.
The course, which started at the top of The Wall and ended at the bottom of Buckboard, was in good condition on the sunny day of racing.
“Considering what a low snow year it’s been, it was awesome,” Lucas said.
Lucas finished runner-up to Squaw Valley big-mountain pro Iris Lazzareschi in the women’s snowboard final. Lindsay Wexler rounded out the top three and Audrey Hebert was fourth.
In men’s snowboard, Sylvain Duclos placed first, Jayson Hale second, Bobby Minghini was third and Lucas Dehmlow in fourth.
In the men’s ski division, Kyle Coxon claimed the top spot in the final four-person heat to earn the winner’s prize purse and a shot at racing Rahlves in the Super Final at Sugar Bowl on March 16.
Shawn McGee finished second and Josh Anderson third, while Daniel Zeffaro was fourth. In addition to his win, Coxon also won biggest air and $100 towards a flight on Alaska Airlines with a spread eagle off the flight deck.
Former World Cup moguls skier Shelly Robertson of the Squaw Valley Freestyle Team and Shannon Rahlves, sister of Daron Rahlves, finished 1-2 in the women’s ski division. Their top results came as no surprise, as the two have battled for the win on multiple occasions since the Rahlves Banzai Tour began in 2009.
Whitney Gardner finished third and Katie Wry fourth.
“The bigger the tour is getting, the more challenging it gets,” said Lucas. “These people are very qualified.”
The Rahlves’ Banzai Tour continues at Squaw Valley on March 1-2, Alpine Meadows on March 8-9 and Sugar Bowl on March 15-16.
Sierra Sun sports editor Sylas Wright contributed to this report