Rahlves siblings repeat Silver Belt Banzai titles
March 15, 2010
SUGAR BOWL andamp;#8212; Daron Rahlves and sister Shannon defended their Silver Belt Banzai ski titles from a year ago, while Brian Bozack and Emily Weer won the snowboard divisions in the race’s return to Sugar Bowl this past weekend.After posting the second-fastest time in Saturday’s single-skier qualification, behind Brian Walker, Rahlves led every heat from the start in Sunday’s four-person, skicross-style race en route to the win. In the final heat, he reached the finish ahead of runner-up Kyle Smaine of South Lake Tahoe, Sugar Bowl’s own Trevor Tanhoff and Geoffrey Hovorka.andamp;#8220;Conditions were awesome,andamp;#8221; said Rahlves, a four-time Olympian and Sugar Bowl’s ski ambassador. andamp;#8220;It was windy, but the wind was blowing the snow into all the holes. Everything in the gully was soft and smooth. It was fun. Good skiing (Sunday), for sure.andamp;#8221;Tanhoff agreed about the conditions, adding that Friday’s fresh snow had been tramped down and wind-blown by Sunday to create fast skiing through the Silver Belt gully off Mount Lincoln.andamp;#8220;The course is amazingly fast, almost scary fast, but smooth and soft still,andamp;#8221; said Tanhoff, who’s from Soda Springs. andamp;#8220;So it’s definitely a racer’s race andamp;#8212; skiing smart, a little speed checking here and there just to be safe. But it’s fast.andamp;#8221;Skiers and riders were placed into four-person heats Sunday based on their qualification times from the previous day. The top two finishers in each heat advanced to the next round, with the only rules being to stay within the gates that were loosely strewn on the natural terrain.Racers agreed the start was most crucial to the outcome of each heat, as the person to clear the first banked turn into the Silver Belt gully ahead of the pack typically held on for the win. That portion of the course also caused the most carnage. Athletes ripped down the steep start and into the turn, which was choppy and at a sharp angle, causing some to wash out before reaching the gully.andamp;#8220;It’s all about the hole shot,andamp;#8221; said Tanhoff. andamp;#8220;andamp;#8230; You’ve just got to get mean right there, man. That’s what it’s all about.andamp;#8221;Both Daron and Shannon Rahlves said taking leads from the start was the key to advancing past some stiff competition for their wins.andamp;#8220;I just pulled out really hard and tried to get in front through the first turn,andamp;#8221; said Shannon. andamp;#8220;And then I knew that once I got out in front I could hold on.andamp;#8221;Daron took credit for encouraging his sister to take a more aggressive line into the gully, which he said enabled her to hold off women’s runner-up Sara Mancuso, as well as Lauren Smith and Megan Lacy, in her final heat.andamp;#8220;I’ve seen her make like four or five turns from the start into the first turn in training, and I was like, andamp;#8216;You can’t give that up,’andamp;#8221; Daron said. andamp;#8220;So she was charging into that first turn, and didn’t hold back. I was stoked to see her win.andamp;#8221;Bozack, who rides for Sugar Bowl and is from Kingvale, held off Kevin Leahy for the win in the men’s snowboard finale as Cale Myers and Jarod Minghini finished third and fourth. Bozack said the key to taking the win in the snowboard division andamp;#8212; which was much more sizable than last year’s andamp;#8212; was andamp;#8220;keeping the base flat, staying smooth and good wax.andamp;#8221;Snowboarding legend Shawn Farmer was among those who competed in the large field of snowboarders. The 44-year-old Farmer made it through the preliminary rounds before crashing in his semifinal. Nevertheless, he said he had a good time competing in the race. andamp;#8220;I got a pretty decent start,andamp;#8221; Farmer said. andamp;#8220;All I really try to do is stay up, that’s my whole thing. When everyone bunches up on that first turn I usually come out of it OK. But then by time we got down to the most relaxed part of the course, I just, I don’t know what I hit, a snow snake or something, because I just ate (it) out of the blue.andamp;#8221;Justin Smaine, Jack Hammann and Kevin Blincoe rounded out the podium in the men’s skiing 14-16 age group, while Nelly Steinhoff won the women’s snowboard 14-16 division.A total of 82 athletes competed.
The Silver Belt Banzai is steeped in history but has been tweaked from its original form. Named after the gully it follows from the top of Mount Lincoln, the original Silver Belt race, a giant slalom, hosted the world’s top racers each year from 1940 until 1975. The course was rated the steepest race terrain in California and the fifth most difficult in North America.After the start of World Cup competition in 1967, however, the Silver Belt lost luster on the upper-tier race circuit, and a new amateur points system, revisions in scheduling and increasing costs eventually led to its demise.Sugar Bowl revived the Silver Belt in 2004, using the same course as the historic race but adding the hairball element of skicross, where racers speed down the mountain in four-person heats. They called it the Silver Belt Banzai. The race wasn’t held again until last year, when some 18 inches of snow fell overnight between the two days of competition, and never let up as skiers took to the course. The 2010 edition took place under blue-bird skies.
To see more photos of this year’s Silver Belt Banzai, go tohttps://www.sierrasun.com/silverbeltphotos