Why Daron Rahlves Calls Sugar Bowl, CA His Home Resort

Katy Shipley | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article

Brought to you by Sugar Bowl Resort

Sugar Bowl Resort, CA, is known for its big mountain lines and authentic vibes. It delivers some of the deepest snow, steepest terrain, and most exciting backcountry access in the Tahoe region. Tucked away on Donner Summit, this resort also provides a pleasant escape from the Tahoe Basin’s busier resorts.

Sugar Bowl is a resort deeply rooted in racing culture, and you can see it in how the locals ski––hard-charging and technical. It seems only fitting that their ambassador is a Downhill and Super-G legend that can also send the steepest Alaskan spines. Sugar Bowl’s ambassador, Daron Rahlves, embodies this place like no other. 

I was honored to hop on the phone with the legend himself and discuss why Sugar Bowl is such a special place. Let’s see why one of the most decorated skiers in history chooses to call Sugar Bowl home. 

About Daron Rahlves

Daron Rahlves soaking up the Cali sunshine and seeking fun lines at Sugar Bowl. Image: Sugar Bowl Resort

Daron Rahlves was born in Walnut Creek, CA, and spent winters racing in Tahoe in his youngest years. He attended a ski academy in Vermont during high school before continuing onto the US Ski Team in 1993. His love for skiing fueled his successful career.

“I’ve always been competitive, racing is just fun. I’m into skiing all terrain, but in the 80s racing was pretty popular and what everyone did. It was either racing or moguls. I was into speed and into going fast.”

It is obvious from his career that he wasn’t kidding about going fast. He holds 12 World Cup wins, 28 podiums, 7 US National Titles, and has been on four Olympic Teams. He was also the Hahnenkamm Downhill winner in 2003 and the Super G in 2004, along with seven podium finishes in Kitzbuhel over five years. 

Other Titles and Accomplishments:

  • US Ski Team from 1993-2010
  • 3 World Championship Medals
  • 2008 X Games Skier Cross Champ
  • 2010 Powder Video Award “Best Line”
  • Athlete for TGR, MSP, Warren Miller, Rage Films

Why Daron Rahlves Chose Sugar Bowl Resort, CA

Sugar Bowl was the perfect place for Daron to train for racing and send some stellar off-piste terrain. Image: Sugar Bowl Resort

So when you are that accomplished and could go anywhere in the world, what brings someone like Daron to this smaller, independent resort? Let’s see what he had to say…

“It’s Refreshing”

While in the middle of his competition career, Rahlves was looking to have a good relationship with a home resort. Sugar Bowl came to him with the ambassador offer, and he accepted. He enjoyed the smaller crowds and incredible terrain it supplied. Sugar Bowl was a well-deserved reprieve from competition life.

“There were always so many people at the European resorts. To me it was a really nice relief from all the other places I was skiing. It was smaller with less people… Not a lot of hype, but a lot of good skiers.”

 “Everyone Was Really Supportive”

As Sugar Bowl’s Ambassador, the resort would provide him training courses when he needed between races. Daron told me about training days when the resort would have top to bottom off Mt. Lincoln set up just for him. SBA’s FIS racers would even join in sometimes. The resort and the locals were supportive of whatever he needed while back home. 

“I was deep in the World Cup at that point and they offered me all the training I needed while at home. I also wanted to give back to Sugar Bowl Ski Team Academy. I was on the road a lot, but had the chance to train with the kids and pass on my knowledge.” 

Daron and his family shredding groomers together at Sugar Bowl. Image: Sugar Bowl Resort

“It Doesn’t Get Overrun”

As someone who loves a good Sugar Bowl day, I had to agree with him.  We marveled at how you can ski through Silverbelt Gully on a powder day, rip a sick line, and see no one around you. You can even get back on the chairlift and get it again before it is tracked out.  Here in Tahoe, that is something special. 

“There’s still plenty of stuff to ski even two hours later. At other resorts it’s hectic and stressful because the next lap fresh turns are already gone.”

“It’s a Good Place to Have Kids”

As Daron and I continued talking, it became clear the Sugar Bowl Ski Academy is near and dear to him. Rahlves knows first hand the importance of those early years in the race scene. Sugar Bowl has become a perfect place for him to give back to the community and raise his kids. 

“I’m on the Board at the Academy to share my knowledge and experience. It is a really competitive program and a unique experience for our student athletes. My own two kids are at SBA and loving it. As for the resort, Sugar Bowl has a genuine, authentic feel… It’s all about the skiing. It’s a great place for kids and hanging with family and friends. 

How to Ski Like Daron Rahlves at Sugar Bowl

Sugar Bowl is full of steep technical lines. With the help of a local, you might be able to find ones like this. Image: Sugar Bowl Resort

If you are going to ski Sugar Bowl, try to ski it like Daron, and you will fit right in.

The Gear

Naturally, I had to know what Daron’s ski quiver looks like. He filled me in on what to grab on what day.

“On those deep days, I’m on the Atomic Backland 117.”

For all-mountain days, you can find him on the up-and-coming Maverick Line from Atomic

“They are 100 underfoot, great for ripping groomers and skiing off piste. The Maverick 100 is my quiver killer.”

The Zones

When it comes to his favorite run on the mountain, it’s a classic.

“Off Lincoln, I always take the first run under the chair on the fourth Sister on pow days. Then take it down towards Steilhang Gully, for Razorback. Next lap is silver Belt Gully into the rock garden.”

Of course, this led to more favorites, including Crow’s. This zone is some of the best powder and tree skiing around. He reminisced on just the other day when he, his daughter, and his wife enjoyed some Crow’s laps with Jones’s family.

“We didn’t leave, it was so fun. That area holds the best snow and has big trees opening up into Hidden Gully… It’s easy access when the chair is running. You can skate a groomed road back to the lift after going out skier’s left which is a big help getting back.”

Finally, he gave some words of wisdom for those looking to ski Sugar Bowl,

“If there’s one thing I could tell people, it’s be adventurous. Ask a local or Ski Patrol and traverse over, looking down, and you will find really fun terrain.”

Daron scores some deep powder in Crow’s Peak zone at Sugar Bowl. Image: Sugar Bowl Resort

Daron Rahlves’ Impact at Sugar Bowl

Having an ambassador like Daron has kept the racing and freeride stoke high at Sugar Bowl. On any given day, you can spot the packs of kids zooming around the resort, hucking cliffs, and running gates. Ask any of them about Daron, and they will have an epic story to share. He is an ambassador that everyone looks up to, even the adults. When you see him on the mountain, you want to ski faster, adventure to the steeps, and explore everything this place has to offer. 

While he continues to travel the world for ski films and fundraisers, he always has Sugar Bowl to come home to. Something is charming about such a successful athlete finding solace in the cozy vibes of a resort like Sugar Bowl. It goes to show that an authentic experience at a resort can go a long way. The locals, the culture, and the terrain have combined into something special here.

Home sweet home. Image: Grant Barta

Related Articles

One thought on “Why Daron Rahlves Calls Sugar Bowl, CA His Home Resort

  1. According to Squaw’s wiki page, Daron was born & raised skiing Squaw. When did he switch mountains?

Got an opinion? Let us know...