Rahlves Set to Finish Off His Best Season

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Rahlves 03 10 04

SESTRIERE, Italy, Mar. 9 2004 (AP by Andrew Dampf) -- Daron Rahlves will soon be heading home to California, where he can surf and ride his bike. He can also reflect on what has been an especially strong ski season, which could end with a fifth-place finish in the overall World Cup standings.

"I just want to finish up the year strong," Rahlves said after placing 10th in Tuesday's training for Wednesday's downhill. "I'm happy with way things are lining up."

Rahlves also has had a good year in the super giant slalom and is in second place in that discipline's standings.

Wednesday's downhill and Thursday's super-G are the first two events of the World Cup Finals. Rahlves also plans to race in the giant slalom Saturday.

The speed events are where Rahlves performs best, exhibited by his super-G win in Kvitfjell, Norway, on Sunday.

"It's a good course for me, I know that," he said. "I'm excited about it, actually. It's important, the Olympics is here in two years. I want to make sure I feel good about this place.

"If I have a bad feeling and I don't really like a hill too much, it's really hard to be into it. I'm looking forward to tomorrow for sure and I'm happy I feel this way for the future and the next two years."

The 30-year-old Rahlves, in his 10th season on the World Cup circuit, has not raced on this course since placing 31st in the downhill at the 1997 world championships.

"It's been so long, I forgot what it was like," he said.

His best overall result was sixth in the standings last season. He has seven career World Cup wins, all in speed events, and three this season.

He won a downhill in Beaver Creek, Colo., in December and a super-G in Kitzbuehel in January before adding his latest super-G victory Sunday. The only time he really struggled was for a brief period in the middle of the season.

"In Kitzbuehel I got really sick, was feeling really bad for two downhills and a super-G, so my chances for having a shot at a title were gone after that," he said.

"I was in a position to fight for the overall, so I'm psyched for next year. I'm essentially only putting points on the board in two events and everyone else is scoring in four or five events, so it gives me a little more incentive to keep building on my speed and bring GS into the picture and hopefully be right up there at the top next year."

Rahlves would also like to give teammate Bode Miller a lift. He wants to boost Miller's chances of overtaking Austria's Hermann Maier, the overall World Cup leader.

"I'm going to see if I can help him out and crush this thing tomorrow and be ahead of Maier at least," Rahlves said.

Click below for coverage of his latest victories.

Copyright © 2004 The Associated Press