By Sarah Tuff Dunn
When Daron Rahlves showed up to serve as NASTAR 2015-1016 Pacesetter at Bear Valley, Calif., in mid-December, he brought his A-game, as always. That’s because the longtime U.S. Ski Team member, who spent 12 years racing on the World Cup circuit, from 1994 to 2006 before re-inventing himself as a ski cross competitor, Banzai organizer and dad, brings 110 percent to every endeavor. But what else does he bring to the NASTAR hill? We caught up with the speedster in between events to find out.
Tell us about your history with NASTAR racing.
NASTAR is how my fun for racing started. I raced in Aspen Highlands, Colo., and Alpine Meadows, Calif., from the age 7 to 11 then got started in FarWest racing. My memories of NASTAR are with my sister Shannon and my parents. We did it every Saturday as a family.
What was it like to be at Bear Valley in December for NASTAR Regional Pacesetting Trials? Did you and Kyle Rasmussen get a couple of runs together?
Going back to Bear Valley was a trip down memory lane. It's been a long time since I was there, but the trip really was hanging with Kyle. We haven't seen each other since he retired in '98. I stayed at his home and over dinner we caught up on all that's gone on. There's been a lot. He hadn't skied in two years, dusted off his skis and tore it up. Maybe it was the home turf or his natural skills. Kyle skied like he never stopped. Naturally gifted.
What do you enjoy about being a NASTAR pacesetter?
I like being around passionate skiers and NASTAR has them. It's awesome to be around the young and older skiers who like to test themselves in the course like I do.
What are some of the most surprising things you’ve seen as a NASTAR pacesetter?
How fired up local pacesetters are to race. Bear Valley is a rad resort and we were powder skiing all morning waiting for the snow cat to groom two feet of snow on the NASTAR run. Bear Valley was being the smallest resort I visited on the Pacesetting Tour, but they’re proud to have the NASTAR program there, run it top notch with great effort by the resort and have a legit hill in length and terrain. Taking a lot of runs on their NASTAR course will improve the skills of the participants and provide everlasting fun.
How are your kids involved with NASTAR racing?
They raced at Nationals last year, had a blast and that got the juices flowing. You’ve been racing and competing for so long, and have just added Flylow to a long list of sponsors. How do you keep the flame going? I still enjoy getting in the gates, but what keeps me going are the daily adventures and challenges on snow. I like keeping it simple and freeskiing at my home resort. I'm always looking for new ways to ski the terrain at Sugar Bowl and the surrounding backcountry. There is a lot of it. I rely on gear to keep up with what I get into and Flylow is a great fit for me as their clothes are made to handle a beating are built with quality and function. I also like that they are a local Tahoe company run by passionate skiers.
What is your go-to race-day routine?
Good night’s rest, eat a light breakfast ‘cause race day nerves get to me, warm up with a few free ski runs, get a good inspection in, visualize the way I want to ski the race, stretch and get loose, get a flow of good vibes and thoughts then get in the start with the attitude of pumping myself up to get after it. Racing is a great test to find out what I'm made of and I love that.