Rahlves Changed Skis Last Minute Before Downhill Run


February 13, 2006

SESTRIERE, Italy (AP by Erica Bulman)—The Americans thought they had a secret weapon: a new-style ski that is supposed to quiet the bumps and turns on the slopes for a smooth ride.

Up until two minutes before one of the biggest races of his career, U.S. skier Daron Rahlves had the capped skis on _ only to take them off and go back to his usual pair. He had just watched teammate Bode Miller finish a disappointing fifth while using the Atomic capped skis.

"I was in those skis ... and then we made a quick change back to the ski I was planning on going on before, said Rahlves. "I felt like that was the right decision we made.

What he didn't know was that it may have been the course, not the skis, that slowed down Miller. The 28-year-old Miller may have hit a rock along the course, destroying the skis sharp edges and slowing him down.

Rahlves, back in his traditional skis, ended up coming in 10th in Sunday's race, although it is impossible to know what role the skis may have played in his disappointing finish.

"I changed my mind because Bode wasn't that fast and I thought if Daron makes the same time as in training, he still gets a medal, said Thomas Buergler, who prepares both Rahlves' and Miller's skis. "For him it was safer because he had never run on the capped ski and he's more used to skiing on the older ones.

"Of course, after the race, it feels like it would have been worth trying the new capped ski because the normal ski didn't work out after all. Too bad we didn't know that before.

Capped skis are constructed completely differently from the traditional laminate ski. The top layer of a capped ski is rounded rather than flat.

"The capped ski is a lot more still or quiet through the turn and really clean through the turn, said Robbie Kristan, a technician for Miller and Rahlves. "And the other turns really good if the course is nice and no bumps otherwise they too much life in them.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press