DARON RAHLVES PRESS CONFERENCE
Courtesy of www.usskiteam.com.
January 30, 2001
St. Anton, Austria
After winning the gold medal in super G at the World Championships in St. Anton, Austria:
DR: "I just tried to go back to the feeling I had in Kitzbühel where he tied for 3rd in the Hahnenkamm downhill on January 20 with Austrian Stephan Eberharter. There's a lot of pressure here at the World Championships. I just tried to set that aside and have a good time."
On his hair -- which color is faster?
DR: "Last year in Norway when he won two World Cup downhills in 24 hours in Kvitfjell, north of Lillehammer, I tried white and that worked pretty well. Then I wanted to do something different and go black. In Kitzbühel I had it going and then in Garmisch I decided to cut it, so there's a little white and black in there now."
On the snow and course:
DR: "It's a little difficult with the light. But the snow was outstanding -- perfect, really hard snow, the kind of snow you can get an edge into. I had a little problem in one section, lost my ski, got kicked around a bit, but that's super G. It was set really well, good rhythm top-to-bottom. I skied the top really well, with some good turns on the steep pitch.
"I didn't really pay any attention to what anyone else did or what the conditions were for them. I was just going through my routine to ski my best performance, which has nothing to do with how anyone else is doing. I had a few little doubts about what would happen today because I was feeling tired this morning. But I felt, 'Okay, I can adapt to change and make things happen right here,' and I just focused on what I had to do.
"There's a lot of hype going on and you really want to win this one. It's tough not to think about too much. I wanted to relax and think about skiing."
Did the run go according to plan and what kind of info did you get from your coaches?
DR: "One of the advantages of where I started in super G is I had a chance to get some radio reports from coaches and adjust accordingly. I was pretty much right on my plan. I did get a little behind on the first turn at the top where timing is critical, but I just attached the next couple turns on the pitch and got right back in there.
"I felt things were really rolling and I had the rhythm. Everything went well through the middle. I wasn't expecting to get tossed around so much at the bottom, but you just take that and go with it. I also had a report that on the bottom you couldn't let the skis run away from you.
"You have to be smart when you ski. I've always been aggressive and sometimes attacked courses too much. The risks you want to take are the ones, which are going to pay off more.
"At the bottom I decided to just stay ahead of it -- stay clean and just see what happens. It was kind of shocking when I came across the finish line -- it was so quiet. I saw thenumber one next to my name and I was hoping it wasn't a mistake. Suddenly people started cheering and the number one stayed up there so I figured I must have had the fastest time."
Comparing compression turn at bottom with Hermann Maier where Rahlves gained two ski lengths on Maier by diving in six feet earlier:
DR: "You have to learn to adapt and instincts are what brings out the best skiing. You can't plan everything. For me I just wanted to be sure I got on that left ski early and anticipated it. There are places where I'm looking for a tighter line. I look at the worst case scenario and what would happen if I backed off a bit. But I always think about the consequences and what will happen afterwards.
What does the title mean?
DR: "Growing up as a skier, especially the past couple years. My first breakthrough was in Norway in super G in March 1995. My idol had always been Guenther Mader of Austria and I beat him when he was fifth. I couldn't believe I had one-upped him. But to come out and know that I belong there in Norway, I did think about the season but the most important thing for me was the first World Cups in Beaver Creek and Lake Louise. But I wasn't skiing well. I wanted to be consistent and be in the top five. That's shot right now, but I just want to come out and do as well as I can in every race. You can't just think about points every race. You just have to get as much as you can.
"Being a world champion has been a dream of mine. I always wanted to believe that I could be the best in the world on one day. To do it here in St. Anton it's the best thing I could have ever dreamed of.
"The words 'world champion' send a ring through my ears.
"This is the biggest place in the world for skiing. I compete better when there are more people out there. I'm totally stoked I could have done it here -- I won the super G here today."
On other sports and when he realized that he could be a champion:
DR: "My parents got me into skiing -- it was something we did for fun. My parents and my grandparents always enjoyed it. But I kept at it. I was also competitive in jet-skiing, which is very similar to motocross. I won the 'expert' class world championship in 1993, which was the year I was named to the U.S. Ski Team. I had to give it up -- I had wanted to be professional in jet skiing, but I decided to concentrate on skiing.
"From a world jet skiing championship it ought to be nice to earn the title of world skiing champion, and here I am."
About the Americans:
DR: "For Americans I think we just rise to the occasion for the big races. It's nothing special, just keeping it simple. We try to do what we do at every other race. We just do the right things at the right time. Moe told me that in his Olympic downhill run that he was just thinking about speed. He wasn't thinking about winning, he was just thinking about skiing his best. You just need to work with the mountain, not fight it, keep it simple and go out there and have fun. It's a great sport. It's easy to get wrapped up about winning a race or how much money you will win. But if you keep it simple, it will come."
How daunting is it to come into Austrian territory, and does it jeopardize training with the Austrians?
DR: "We've trained with the Austrians a little bit. Being Americans, being one step behind the Austrians, we can learn a lot from it. We always thought we had to do more to be in there, but we're slowly learning it's all about quality not quantity. You watch those guys and they take a run, then they take a break. I like all the guys on the Austrian team -- I like to hang out with them. It's good to know that they're not just machines -- maybe close to it -- but they're human just like us. We try to learn from working with them. We'll definitely be wanting to train with them but I think they'll want to train with us, because we're pretty damned fast!
"It's not daunting to race here, it's exciting to race here. There are so many fans and it's a lot more fun to ski and put it on the line when there's more people watching."
How did your role change when Tommy Moe and Kyle Rasmussen retired?
DR: "That was probably the greatest thing to have those fast guys on the team to train with. My first year on the team Tommy won the Olympics and AJ had bagged some wins. I was just going out every day in training trying to beat them. You need that competition. That's one thing that drives the Austrians so much. Look at Christoph Gruber coming up. He just won in Garmisch. But he has these guys like Eberharter to train against and everybody wants to be the best, even in training. You gain a lot of confidence that way.
"Early in my career I was a GS and super G skier and then added downhill. It was tough when those guys left because I didn't have them to compete against." super G skier and then added downhill. It was tough when those guys left because I didn't have them to compete against."