by Greg Lindsey
The sun was shinning bright on the course as I arrived to Sugarbowl on saturday for qualifying. The course was gnarly, steep, bumpy, tight and took about a minute of hard throttling to get down. Just what one would expect for the final stop of The Rahlves’ Banzai Tour.
After a fairly fast run of 52 seconds I had qualified 3rd right behind Jamaican olympian Errol Kerr and just in front of my roomate and fellow blaster George Hjelte. I was stoked but nervous for the following day of head-to-head racing. The competition was stiff and everyone seemed hungry for the coveted Silver Belt title.
Race day was upon us and the weather and course were in worse condition than the previous day. The clouds had socked in the course making visibility minimal and the course had set up, increasing the speed of the snow. All in all it was shaping up to be a very interesting race. My first two practice runs went terrible, falling and washing out all over the place, I wasn’t too confident going into my first race.
As the heats started flowing I found myself getting into a solid groove (after a necessary ski change) and suddenly I was in the round of 8 just where I was in Kirkwood. All I wanted to do was make it to the final four, but right next to me in the gate was Errol, he is an intimidating competitor to be standing next to. Our race was underway and Errol had the hole shot, at the third turn I noticed him going high so I came in low for the pass and successfully managed to hold on and advanced to the finals. I was so stoked!
The finals consisted of the top 3 and 5th fastest qualifiers from the previous day. It was set up to be a fast pace action packed race. At the top of the course I had one of the fastest gates and a good feeling that I could win. Out of the gate I made a pass on the 2nd turn and it was smooth sailing all the way into the finish. This was my first real victory of my ski career and boy was it a good one, but it wasn’t over yet. I wanted Rahlves.
The clouds had lifted for the super final and I really thought that I could take down one of the most decorated American racers in history for the 10 grand purse. The gate dropped and Daron had the hole shot but almost went down in the first turn (you can see it in the video). From there on out he was gone, that guy is really fast. My legs were jello and I was just trying to hang on and finish behind the master. I got second to Rahlves, didn’t win anything but finally got a shot at the title. Next year I will be back and hopefully I can take down the man and bring home the ultimate title to Squaw Valley.