Wengen, Switzerland (Jan. 17) USST - Austrian Stephan Eberharter mauled the Lauberhorn course Friday to win a World Cup downhill by more than a second with Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) in second place for his fourth podium of the winter. Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) was sixth with Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) 14th and Jake Fiala (Frisco, CO) 19th.
"This is one of my dream hills," Rahlves said, "It feels good to make it to the podium here...and to keep things rolling.
"Eberharter was so fast - he was nine-tenths ahead of me on the top. I hung pretty tight after about 40 seconds and made it a fight to the end of the run, but he crushed it. That was an epic run," Rahlves said.
BORMIO RACES HELPED PROGRAM RAHLVES TO FIGHT
In retaking the World Cup points lead from Miller, Eberharter - who won a downhill in Bormio, Italy, a week ago - finished in 2:27.78. Rahlves, earning his fourth podium (to go with his win and a third-place finish in Bormio and his third at Beaver Creek during the Chevy Truck Birds of Prey DH), was clocked in 2:28.89 as he moved into second place behind the Austrian in the DH standings. Former World Cup DH champion Hermann Maier of Austria, in his first downhill since a motorcycle crash in August 2001, was 22nd. Miller's time was 2:29.36. In addition to Sullivan and Fiala's first World Cup top-20, Bryon Friedman (Park City, UT) was 35th and Scott Macartney (Redmond, WA) 37th on the longest downhill course on the World Cup tour.
Fiala skied No. 2 and his quick start fired-up Rahlves, he said. Eberharter, who injured his left knee in a giant slalom in mid-December but was out less than three weeks, ran eighth, Rahlves 32nd.
"I was fired-up; I saw Jake go and he tore-up the top, so that got me going. And I saw Eberharter go and he crushed the top, just crushed it, and everyone was laughing, he was so fast...and they announced 2:27 and I was shocked. That's incredible.
"But I said that was okay and in that moment, I said, 'It's full-on and I've got to pull everything out in this run," he said.
"I think those Bormio races conditioned me to fight to the end. The Lauberhorn is another of those courses that shows who's in good shape. All the way to the end, I just kept sticking my nose in it, kept pushing."
RAHLVES CHANNELED NERVOUS ENERGY INTO ROCKET RIDE
He was nervous at the start, Rahlves admitted, "but that's good because now I know if I put in a run, I can be in there, can win or be on the podium. That gets my blood boiling hard, my heart's pumping hard, gets me fired-up. There's new energy you can turn into your favor...and I did."
Still, he was surprised with his second-place finish. He thought he'd blown it in a couple of places. "I was surprised because I'd made some misdtakes. But I knew I was going fast, catching some good air, which shows the speed. But I blew one section on a righthand turn - it was icy and bumpy...but I ended up being second, hit 139 Ks (kilometers per hour), something like fourth at that final speed trap...
"I pinned it."
Rahlves reinjured his right hip last March and said the down time set the foundation for his success this winter. "I took five months off, thought nothing of skiing. I mean, I rode my dirt bike, went surfing and wakeboarding...all this great stuff, and then I came back in August and was totally committed to skiing. And Willi (Weltz, waxing technician) has done a great job with my skis.
"Bode's success has been fun to share. I want to be the fastest guy in the world, in the U.S., and Bode's skiing fast, so I'm pushing hard," Rahlves added.
One perk of being on the podium, he said, was that Rahlves was taken by helicopter from the mob scene at the finish area to the press conference. "That was cool," he said.
The men run the famed Lauberhorn DH Saturday and finish with a slalom Sunday and a combined calculation.
Outdoor Life Network willl have a World Cup highlights show Saturday at 3 p.m. EST and men's downhill coverage at 4 p.m.
FIS ALPINE WORLD CUP RESULTS
Wengen, SUI - Jan. 17
1. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 2:27.78
2. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, CA, 2:28.89
3. Bruno Kernen, Switzerland, 2:29.16
4. Andreas Schifferer, Austria, 2:29.22
5. Christoph Gruber, Austria, 2:29.25
6. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 2:29.36
14. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, CA, 2:30.42
19. Jake Fiala, Frisco, CO, 2:30.66
35. Bryon Friedman, Park City, UT, 2:32.47
37. Scott Macartney, Redmond, ME, 2:33.04