Daron Rahlves poses 3-event Olympic threatWith the opening ceremony of the 2006 Olympics Winter Games 100 days away, Daron Rahlves is clear on his goals for the Games.
‘Hopefully I’ll come out of there with three medals in three events. That’s why I’m showing up’ Rahlves said.
That’s right, three medals, three events for Rahlves – not two. The all-time top U.S. men’s downhill and super G racer has been making waves in GS the last two seasons and hopes to notch a World Cup GS win this year before the Torino Games. For now, though, Rahlves is approaching the World Cup and Olympic season one race at a time.
‘Yeah, [the Olympics] are a huge event and I want to go in there and be ready for it’ he said. ‘But I’m not thinking past the first weekend of World Cup competition.’
But maybe he should.
Rahlves hooked a tip 22 seconds into the World Cup opening GS race in Soelden, Austria, Oct. 23 and did not finish. It was a disappointing start to the season for Rahlves, who was five-tenths of a second ahead of the rest of the U.S. team in training runs prior to race.
‘I was coming off a left-footed turn, from left to right, switching off on the initiation and my left inside tip just caught. It happened so fast, the ski caught and hooked out to the left side and I went right through the panel’ Rahlves said. ‘For sure I was pissed. I broke one pole in the crash and felt like breaking the other when I got up. But it’s just one of those things. You gotta suck it up and move on. If you’re not winning, you gotta crash trying, I guess.’
With six downhill and three super G wins on the World Cup tour (not to mention gold and silver World Championships downhill medals), Rahlves’ status as a speed freak is well established – so much so that few may remember that the California native cut his teeth on the U.S. team as a GS skier.
‘I started off as a GS and [super G] skier when I made the U.S. Ski Team, but I think downhill was always my favorite event and I put as much as I could into that event’ Rahlves said. ‘Racing downhill and super G was great, but there were days during the week where I wanted to be racing – I don’t want to be over in Europe sitting around.’
While Rahlves has made great strides in GS, including a bronze medal at last year’s World Championships, the downhill remains his best shot at Olympic glory. In 2004, Rahlves won the last race held on the Olympic downhill course at Sestriere, Italy, a feat which many believe gives him an advantage in the speed events.
‘It’s a hill that gets me excited to ski’ Rahlves said. ‘There’s always action and there’s never any time to sit there and relax on your skis and that gets me excited to ski. Last time I was on that hill I won, so I have a good feeling.’
The Sestriere course may be just the ticket for Rahlves, who is looking to emerge from the shadow of teammate Bode Miller. After finishing second to Miller in the 2005 Beaver Creek downhill, he took silver behind him in the World Championships downhill. Rahlves wasn’t able to win a race until the final super G of the World Cup season, and even then he was deadlocked with Miller. But don’t look for Rahlves to try and hog the spotlight.
‘Definitely I’m flying under the radar and it’s something I don’t mind’ Rahlves said. ‘[Bode] is the one making headlines and saying some interesting things out there in the media. He likes to throw a lot of fuel on the fire. For me, I just like the respect I get. I want people to get fired up watching me ski race – that’s all I need.’