BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP by John Mossman) Dec. 5, 2003–Entering the start house, Daron Rahlves felt lousy, the lingering effects of a cold draining his energy.
Less than two minutes later, he was euphoric.
Rahlves won a World Cup downhill Friday, finishing 0.69 seconds ahead of Stephan Eberharter and Bjarne Solbakken, who tied for second.
Rahlves skied aggressively from the start to post a time of 1 minute, 39.59 seconds on the demanding Birds of Prey course. It was Rahlves’ fifth career victory.
Austria’s Eberharter and Norway’s Solbakken finished in 1:40.28.
Austria’s Michael Walchhofer, who won the season’s opening downhill last Saturday in Lake Louise, Alberta, was fourth, followed by Hermann Maier and Lasse Kjus.
Rahlves’ win marked only the second victory by an American man in a World Cup race in the United States since 1984, and both have occurred in the last two weeks. Bode Miller won a giant slalom at Park City, Utah, on Nov. 22. Winning at home was sweet, Rahlves acknowledged.
“It feels special, really good,” he said. “We live here, it’s like our hometown hill. It’s our only World Cup downhill. So we want to put down good performances.
“It gets old having the Austrians or the Norwegians skiing fast here and no Americans.”
Solbakken, the fourth skier out of the starting gate, put up a time that withstood challenges from the next 23 competitors.
But Rahlves was faster. After crossing the finish line and seeing his time on the scoreboard, he pumped his fist in the air.
“I skied really fast on the bottom,” Rahlves said. “Pretty much top to bottom, I was ahead the whole way. I was spent at the finish. That’s all I had.
“I just got over a cold. Mentally, I wasn’t feeling sharp and didn’t have a lot of energy. But sometimes you can overcome your physical feelings with just mental attitude.”
Eberharter said he was “very happy with this result because I had some mistakes in the steep section. So I was surprised to be in second place.”
Miller, the World Cup overall leader, put together a fast run but fell near the finish. He was thrown back on his skis in a depressed area on the course and went airborne, breaking his left ski as he landed. He was not hurt.
“I skied too direct coming into the compression,” Miller said. “It was dark in there and I couldn’t see. I tried to make a turn in there and I got bounced the wrong way and it was over. It was just unlucky.
“I’m a little bit sore, but I’ll be fine.”
Austria’s Hans Knauss also had a quick run going before skiing wide on one of the final turns and missing a gate. Maier, the three-time World Cup overall champion, was disappointed with his race.
“Today was a very bad run,” he said. “I lost a lot of time on the top. I have to ski more relaxed. Maybe then I’m faster.”
The race was a makeup of a race scheduled for next week in Val d’Isere, France, which was canceled because of warm temperatures. Another downhill is scheduled here Saturday, with a super-G on Sunday.
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press