February 10, 2006
SESTRIERE, Italy (AP by Erica Bulman)—Daron Rahlves was tired from training and traveling, had a nagging sore throat and was already the fastest man on the Olympic mountain. So the American downhill gold medal contender took the day off Friday.
Rahlves skipped the second training session to rest for Saturday's last official practice, a run that will decide the starting order for Sunday's gold-medal race.
"I felt really comfortable on the course and the weather is looking to be the same, so I'm just going to rest and come back for Saturday, said Rahlves, whose daring style fits the tough course and who won the last World Cup downhill staged here two seasons ago.
On Thursday, he blistered through the first training session, besting second-place Austrian Michael Walchhofer by a whopping 1.21 seconds.
There is no penalty for skipping Friday's run. Only the final scheduled training session before a downhill race determines the starting race order, with the top 30 finishers starting in reverse order.
Should Saturday's final practice be scratched, racers would start in the reverse order of the World Cup Starting List, rankings which reflect a skier's results over the last full year.
While the results of early training sessions can be misleading _ competitors use them to find the best lines down the mountain and may even slow down to appear slower _ Rahlves is widely considered the favorite by the other skiers.
"There is always a chance for me, I suppose, but Daron is the favorite, said triple Olympic champion Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway.
While Rahlves could take it easy, three compatriots had a lot at stake.
Americans Scott Macartney, Steven Nyman and Marco Sullivan were beginning their battle for the remaining two spots on the four-member team. One spot goes to the fastest of the trio Friday and the last one to the winner of a ski-off in Saturday's practice.
Copyright © 2006 The Associated PressNyman Earns Spot on U.S. Downhill TeamFebruary 10, 2006
SESTRIERE, Italy (AP Press Release)—Steven Nyman outskied two American teammates in a downhill practice session Friday, clinching a spot on the U.S. squad in the event. Each nation is allowed up to four participants in Sunday's downhill, and two spots on the U.S. team already belong to by Daron Rahlves and Bode Miller.
That left three Americans trying to capture the remaining two spots, with one slot awarded to the fastest skier on Friday's training run and the last one going to the fastest in Saturday's final training session. That session will determine the starting order for Sunday's gold-medal race.
Nyman was 11th-fastest on Friday, finishing the course in 1 minute, 50.88 seconds. Marco Sullivan was right behind in 12th place with a time of 1:51.12, and Scott Macartney was 13th in 1:51.15.
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press