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Dec. 1: Rahlves solid, Nyman moves way up, while Miller's struggles continue for U.S.

Dec. 1: Rahlves solid, Nyman moves way up, while Miller’s struggles continue for U.S.{mosimage}For the Americans, the script from the super G at Beaver Creek on Thursday read much like it did in Lake Louise – Bode Miller bobbled, Daron Rahlves was rock steady, Steve Nyman attacked from the back, and the rest of the crew either missed the points or DNFed.

Rahlves once again led the American charge, notching a fifth-place finish on the heels of his third in Lake Louise. Running 28th on a deteriorating course with accumulating fresh snow, Rahlves finished in 1:18.22, 0.89 seconds behind winner Hannes Reichelt, who ran seventh.

Considering that Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal was the only other skier to star after 20 (the top-10 best super G skiers from last year) to finish in the top five, Rahlves’ result was nothing if not consistent. Still, Rahlves was look for more. ‘Top five is not what I wanted’ he said in the finish. ‘ I want to show up and just own this place. Right now, it stings more, but I think later in the day, I’ll let it sink in and think ‘a good solid result…’ But I want to start winning some races.’

The man who was doing all the winning a year ago at this time continued his struggles this year. Moisture on the inside of his goggles froze on his way down, leading to zero visibility and his skiing out less than halfway down the course. As murmurs about his fading motivation and mounting outside pressure surround Miller, head speed coach John McBride preached patience. ‘We’ve got a lot of races left’ he said. ‘At this point, I’m not overly concerned. The most important thing is that he keeps his head in the right place and take what he can positive out of what he’s done so far.’

Still, McBride had few answers. ‘If skiing has fallen out of what’s passionate for him, and he’s struggling with that in his own mind, then for sure that’s an issue’ he offered. ‘Is skiing as high a priority for him as it was last year at this time? I don’t have the answer for that.’

As Miller struggles, Nyman seems to be finding his groove. After posting a 14th in downhill at Lake Louise a week ago, Nyman, running 54th (third from last), fought his way through the swirling snow and wind, finishing in 25th, 2.32 back. It’s the first World Cup super G points of Nyman’s career.

‘I stayed above the chop, the chop was low’ said Nyman. ‘The coaches gave me great reports – ‘Come above that chop, because if you hit that, you’re just going to get kicked low.’ I got kicked a couple times, but I had that height, which allowed me to maintain my line and stay on the course.’

Not bad considering he fell onto his hip in the difficult top section of the course. Nyman was happy to credit his slalom pedigree for the recovery. ‘Luckily I have some slalom blood in my bones’ he said, ‘because if I wasn’t quick, I wouldn’t be in [the finish].’

Just missing the points in 31st was Scott Macartney. ‘Mac’s doing a good job’ McBride said. ‘He didn’t execute one section around that tree island and it took him out deep into the powder, and that was the difference between him scoring points today and not.’

Both Justin Johnson and Marco Sullivan blew out on similar gates. ‘I just didn’t ski smart after I made a mistake. Instead of trying to stay in, I made two dumb decisions’ said Johnson, who got lower and lower until missing a gate in the course’s midsection.

Sullivan succumbed to the conditions as well. ‘I couldn’t really see what I was getting myself into it, and I was out all of a sudden’ he said.

Despite the complaints of numerous athletes, neither of these two American DNFs were all that worked up about it. Johnson did admit to the conditions being ‘a little bit’ dangerous; Sullivan simply considered them a job hazard. ‘Every once in a while, you get a race where it’s not bad enough to cancel, but it’s not all that great to run it’ he said. ‘But the fans are here, and we all wanted to race. Just kind of luck of the draw today.’

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