Back In the pre-FIS days of ski racing, before regulations, sanctions and rules, there were three preeminent events in all of Ski Country: Aspen held the Roch Cup , Sun Valley ran the Harriman Cup, and Sugar Bowl featured the famed Silver Belt. All three showcased the best talent from around the world, and bragging rights (and post-parties) were huge. While many of these events have fallen by the wayside, Sugar Bowl’s Silver Belt was revived in 2008, with a modern twist, and lives on as Tahoe’s largest freeskiing & riding event.
Dating back to the 1940’s, the Silver Belt at Sugar Bowl enjoyed a long and glorious run, with top-level racing held every year, straight through the 70’s. But as the governing body of ski racing came to fruition, FIS started to look for resort venues that had a larger bed base for more athletes and spectators, deeper pockets for more grandiose events and sponsors, Sugar Bowl’s grand event hit the finish line. Over the subsequent years, Tahoe saw a myriad of come-and-go events attempting to showcase high-level racing, but due to extensive off-snow elements such as parties and live music, that often over-extended the promoter’s budget, the staying power simply wasn’t there.
In 2008 however, working in close conjunction with resort management, Sugar Bowl resort ambassador and World Champ skier Daron Rahlves revived the classic event, albeit with a modern twist. Combining big mountain freeriding with downhill racing and a hint of skier/boarder cross action pitting 4 skiers at a time against each other, the Banzai was born on the same classic gully that held some of skiing’s best back in the day. A huge success with big money for winners, the race was destined to expand the concept and take it to other Tahoe area venues including Kirkwood, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. But it’s the Silver Belt Banzai, held this March 15 and 16 at Sugar Bowl, that claims the phrase “where it all started and where it all ends” with the Tour finale pitting the previous winners against Daron Rahlves in ski and Nate Holland in snowboarding for a one-run, winner-take-all race and big cash payout.
A bucket list for any accomplished athlete and a must-see for any racing enthusiast, the Silver Belt at Sugar Bowl is racing action at its best. And if you’re just looking to check it out on a simple-fly by while out & about skiing Sugar Bowl’s incredible terrain, definitely enjoy a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at the festive Banzai BBQ at the finish line…it’s a classic celebration of California spring skiing at its finest, with some of the craziest skiing & riding you’re ever going to see.
Guest post and photo provided by Sugar Bowl