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Jeffrey Weidel: Banzai Tour challenges skiers, boarders

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From page A8 | February 27, 2013 |

hp photosmart 720Ever wonder what it might be like to challenge an Olympic skier on a downhill run? That opportunity could come in March. And the man to beat is none other than U.S. Olympian Daron Rahlves.

The Daron Rahlves’ Banzai Tour returns in 2013, culminating with five people racing down a steep, edgy, roller-coaster type terrain at Sugar Bowl ski resort on March 9-10.

The skiers will not only have the chance to defeat Rahlves and three others in the finals; the winner takes home a sweet $10,000 check that will make this one extremely memorable day.

The Banzai Tour is also a competition that includes snowboarders as well. 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.

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 (see above story on Casey Lucas). 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 has captured first place at the first two Banzai finals. “It’s a competition among competitors. But ultimately, it’s against the mountain.”

The Banzai Tour has already made stops at Kirkwood and Alpine Meadows. Up this weekend is Squaw Valley and the Sugar Bowl the following week.

“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.

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.

Remaining Banzai Tour dates:
• March 2-3: Squaw Valley
• March 9-10: Sugar Bowl

Visit rahlvesbanzai.com for details.

During each of the Banzai Tour stops, High Fives Foundation will host a Saturday après ski party from 3-6 p.m. Spectators, competing athletes and fans are invited. The après ski parties are sponsored by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Jeffrey Weidel can be reached at skiweidel@yahoo.com. Visit his winter website at examiner.com/skiing-in-san-francisco/jeffrey-weidel

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