DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -
Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), the reigning X Games ski cross champion, has won the fabled Hahnenkamm in Kitzbuehel, Austria, as well as the World Championship super G. But, while doing ski clinics for U.S. Ski Team and personal sponsor Spyder at an indoor ski facility in Dubai recently, he had to answer a question he had never thought about before: "Hey, Daron, what's it like to ski outdoors?"
Rahlves, the 2001 World Champion, spent a few days in Dubai doing clinics with kids and adults in the world's largest indoor ski facility.
"Walking into Ski Dubai and stepping onto the snow blew me away," said Rahlves, who is making a comeback with his eyes on the 2010 debut of ski cross in Vancouver. "It's huge for an indoor ski hill. The snow is as close to natural as you could get in this climate-controlled facility."
Rahlves retired from the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup after the 2006 Olympics, but his hiatus was short lived. He returned last season to take on a new challenge as ski cross was added to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. With an X Games title already under his belt, Rahlves, along with U.S. Ski Team teammate Casey Puckett (Aspen, CO), are among the leaders in the newest Olympic sport.
Dealing with the heat was a new twist for Rahlves. It was 96 degrees when he and his Spyder team manager arrived in Dubai - at 1:30 a.m.! "It was so thick and hot you had to gulp down each inhale," said Rahlves. "I don't know how they live in these conditions."
Rahlves spent most of his time in air conditioned malls and buildings when not on the cool snow of Ski Dubai. The two days of clinics wrapped up with a giant slalom race for the 27 skiers taking part in the Spyder program.
The California native is back home in Tahoe preparing for the upcoming season. With twin boys at home, he will minimize international travel and focus primarily on five key events in the United States. The domestic ski cross season kicks off Dec. 12-14 with a 48 Straight event in Telluride, CO. The road to Vancouver starts with the ski cross World Cup Jan. 19 in Lake Placid, NY. That event will count towards Olympic qualifying. A week later he will be in Aspen to defend his X Games ski cross title, then it's off to Squaw Valley, CA for a Jan. 30 - Feb. 1 48 Straight event. The month-long series of back-to-back events ends Feb. 6 with the Olympic test event at Cypress Mountain, BC, just north of Vancouver.