Snow is in the forecast all week! And the first storm of the series hit the Sierra Crest hard with strong winds and near whiteout conditions during the final stop of the 2012 Ralves' Banzai Tour at Sugar Bowl on Sunday. Any normal ski race would have probably been cancelled on account of weather but "ideal conditions" are not exactly a high priority for a Banzai Race. Skiers and riders sent it into the whiteroom all day down Sugarbowl's technical and choppy course for a shot at the Silver Belt. Silver Belt Banzai! Sugar Bowl Final & Super-Final | The Blizzard Banzai | Results & Photos | Unofficial Networks

Silver Belt Banzai! Sugar Bowl Final & Super-Final | The Blizzard Banzai | Results & Photos

Silver Belt Banzai! Sugar Bowl Final & Super-Final | The Blizzard Banzai | Results & Photos

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Silver Belt Banzai! Sugar Bowl Final & Super-Final | The Blizzard Banzai | Results & Photos

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Sugar Bowl Banzai start gate

Snow is in the forecast all week! And the first storm of the series hit the Sierra Crest hard with strong winds and near whiteout conditions during the final stop of the 2012 Ralves’ Banzai Tour at Sugar Bowl on Sunday. Any normal ski race would have probably been cancelled on account of weather but “ideal conditions” are not exactly a high priority for a Banzai Race. Skiers and riders sent it into the whiteroom all day down Sugarbowl’s technical and choppy course for a shot at the Silver Belt.

The Super Final was also held Sunday afternoon. Each of the top finishers in the men’s ski category from all four stops on the tour got to race Daron Rahlves head to head for a chance at a $10,000 cash prize!

Rahlves' Banzai 2012 3 panels

Each stop on the tour this year has presented its own unique set of challenges for the competitors to battle. The first race at Kirkwood was held early in this record low snow season and the low tide conditions forced the venue off of the wide open (but snowless) Eagle Bowl, and down into the tight and winding Snow Snake Gully where even then the coverage in a few turns on course were scraped down to the rocks and roots below the snow.

At Alpine Meadows Daron tested the competitors’ metal with the infamous mogul field (referred to as “The Face”) that provided some of the most impressive athletic performances, gnarliest wrecks, and the most entertaining and competitive race heats of the tour.

Squaw Valley’s KT-22 Banzai was the longest and most grueling of the events. Warm weather created soft snow and heavily rutted terrain on the course that pushed racers’ endurance and determination, testing their stamina to the max.

At Sugar Bowl this weekend it was Mother Nature who provided the extra twist that upped the ante and raised the difficulty level to Banzai standards.

Rahlves' Banzai Sugar Bowl

Looking at the first gate (Sunday)

During the time trials on Saturday the sun was out and competitors got a clear look at the course. Even with good visibility the Sugar Bowl track resembled a variation of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. The low snowpack that has prevailed this season continues to provide dynamic terrain on the mountains. The fastest time during the time trial (apart from Rahlves’ 1:02.90) was put down by Squaw Valley’s John Lange at 1:04.91.

Rahlves' Banzai Dinosaur Rock

Looking down the chute by Dinosaur Rock (Saturday)

Rahlves' Banzai Course Photo

Step down turn before the chute (Saturday)

Rahlves' Banzai course photo

Course "option" left or right of the center moraine (ran pretty even)

Rahlves' Red Line

"Rahlves' Red Line:" Mogul field straightline before the finish (smoother than Alpine but still rowdy)!

When the weather socked in for Sunday’s race a fair amount of snowy duff was added to the course but largely, the track that was set on Saturday was still felt throughout the race on Sunday. Imagine skiing as hard as you can through a course that rough with limited visibility. Oh yeah, it was a Banzai alright!

Rahlves' Banzai course photo

Battling for 2nd position

Racers duked it out through the storm. A lot was riding on Sunday’s days race. The Silver Belt is the final stop on the tour and season point values for placing in the event were 150% that of point values from other events. This forced a number of racers who were ranked high in the overall to continue defending their positions on the leader board by placing in Sunday’s race. Squaw’s John Bocheneck held a comfortable lead for the season but still needed to finish well at Sugar Bowl to insure a season title. He did so by making the finals once again. Bochenek A.K.A. “Johnny Banzai” skied in the finals at each stop on the Rahlves’ Banzai Tour this season finishing 1st at Kirkwood, 1st at Squaw and 4th in both the Alpine and Sugar Bowl events.

Sylvain DuClois held on to his overall lead in men’s snowboard finishing 3nd at Sugar Bowl. Shannon Rahlves was in reach of the women’s ski overall title but Squaw’s Shelly Robertson maintained her lead with a win this weekend, and Kasey Lucas overtook Mallory Olney finishing 1st at Sugar Bowl and in the women’s snowboard overall.

Rahlves' Banzai Men's Overall John bocheneck

Rahlves' Banzai Men's Ski Overall Champion John bocheneck

A newcomer to the podium at the Sugar Bowl event was Casey Riva. Raised in North Lake Tahoe and currently skiing out of Colorado, Riva clenched the win and the Silver Belt at Sugar Bowl’s race earning him a spot in the Super Final.

Casey Riva with the Silver Belt

Casey Riva with the Silver Belt (Lange: right, Devine: Left)

The Super Final was run at the end of the day and stacked the top men’s skiers from each event up against Rahlves for a cash prize of $10,ooo. Kyle Smaine (1st place Alpine Meadows) John Bocheneck (1st place Kirkwood) Todd Disbrow (3rd place Squaw Valley), and Casey Riva (1st place Sugar Bowl) all bolted out of the same start gate as one of the best World Cup downhill racers that the U.S. has ever produced in a 5 skier top to bottom Banzai heat! Bocheneck was elbow to elbow with Rahlves on the top of the course, Rahlves managed to secure the pole position after a few gates but Bocheneck stayed right on him up until he hooked a ski tip in the B-Net heading into the chute by Dinosaur Rock. Bocheneck took a swan dive into the chute but was unhurt. After that Rahlves had it won. Riva continued to chase and finished 2nd in the Super Final. Disbrow also had a crash on course but was able to get up and finish 3rd. Bocheneck did collect himself and raced the rest of the course to finish the Super Final in 4th place.

Rahlves remains undefeated in a Banzai Super Final but Bocheneck certainly gave him a run for his money up until the crash.

Rahlves' Banzai Super Final

Super Final Competitors

Rahlves' Banzai

Rahlves engaging in some "motivational speaking" (Watch out, Bocheneck might be fast again next year...)

The 2012 Rahlves’ Banzai Tour finished strong! The season’s trying snow conditions and Rahlves’ creative course setting made every race challenging and even intimidating but at the end of each event the crowds were fired up, the athletes were stoked and satisfied to have risen to the challenge (and survived), and the strongest and most determined athletes repeatedly rose to the the top. The Rahlves’ Banzai is certainly one of the most raw and challenging competitions out there in the ski and snowboard world.

Each stop was filmed by Red Bull Media House in conjunction with TGR. The 2012 Rahlves’ Banzai Tour will be presented as part of the Red Bull Signature Series on NBC Sports Network Tuesday, March 27 at 10:00 pm PST. Don’t miss it! 

Results: Silver Belt Banzai, Sugar Bowl

Rahlves Banzai men's ski Sugar Bowl

Casey Riva with the Silver Belt

Men’s Ski

  1. Casey Riva
  2. John Lange
  3. B Devine
  4. John Bocheneck
Rahlves' Banzai men's snowboard sugarbowl

The storm didn't stop for the awards ceremony

Men’s Snowboard

  1. Chris Galvin
  2. Chelone Miller
  3. Sylvaine DuClois
  4. Jason kosich
Rahlves' Banzai women's ski Sugar Bowl

Shelly Robertson with the Silver Belt

Women’s Ski
  1. Shelly Robertson
  2. Hanna Jermstad
  3. Eimelie Colgan
  4. Shannon Rahlves

Rahlves' Banzai women's snowboard Sugar Bowl

Women’s Snowboard
  1. Casey Lucas
  2. Carrie Hall
  3. Marguerite Cosettini
  4. Rose Marie Daiek

Season Overall Winners

  • Men’s ski champion:                                  John Bocheneck
  • Men’s snowboard champion:                  Sylvain DuClois
  • Women’s ski champion:                           Shelly Robertson
  • Women’s snowboard champion:            Casey Lucas

 Congrats to all the athletes and to Daron Rahlves for an awesome season!

A few more photos from Sugar Bowl:

Rahlves' Banzai first turn 1 Sugar Bowl

Rahlves' Banzai Sugar Bowl Men's Ski

Rahlves' Banzai Sugar Bowl Snowboard

Rahlves' Banzai Sugar Bowl 2 skiers

That's two skiers

Rahlves' Banzai Sugar Bowl in the soup

Racing in the soup

Rahves' Banzai Sugar Bowl men's snowboard

 

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