Kvitfjell, Norway, Mar. 2, 2001–It looked like another rock-solid run by Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) on what may be his favorite World Cup course. But instead of finishing fourth behind Austrian Hermann Maier in a World Cup downhill, the sub-zero cold heated-up quickly Friday when Rahlves was disqualified for tying a knot in his wide-flowing racing bib.
Hermann Maier widened his overall World Cup points lead and reclaimed the downhill points lead by winning in 1:45.90, his 10th victory of the winter, the 38th since he won super G in Garmisch, Germany, just four years ago (Feb. 23, 1997). Florian Eckert of Germany- who said the bibs were “like a nightgown” – was second in 1:46.05. Third place went national favorite Lasse Kjus in 1:46.09.
Rahlves appeared to be fourth in 1:46.13 but was disqualified at the race’s end. Chad Fleischer (Vail, CO) was 33rd and Chris Puckett (Boulder, CO) 41st.
“I’m really, really disappointed and it makes me mad enough to want to come back Saturday in the second downhill of the weekend and make up for it,” Rahlves said after being told he’d been DQ’d.
The 1994 Olympic downhill is one of Rahlves’ favorite racing hills. He made his World Cup breakthrough here in 1995 when he flew in the night before and, without ever training on the hill, was fourth the next morning in a World Cup super-G. Last March, he won two downhills in 24 hours and was fifth in a super G.
Rahlves had tied a knot at the back of his bib as he got set to race, a clear violation of the International Ski Federation rule 608.1 stating “Shape, size, lettering and attachment method may not be altered.”
“It was an honest mistake. He didn’t do it to gain an unfair advantage,” said U.S. Head Coach Bill Egan. He didn’t know you couldn’t do that but the bib fit him like a tent and he just wanted to keep it from flopping around. But, a rule is a rule; he had to be disqualified.”
He added, “Daron didn’t know the rule and none of us saw it until he came out of the start. Edi Waldburger, men’s ski technician is the one guy we have in the start who has the experience to know about it, but he was working on the other athletes’ skis and didn’t see it when Daron got into the start house. It’s especially tough because Daron could have used those 50 points” for being fourth.
With a downhill Saturday and super G Sunday, plus World Cup Finals March 7-11 in Are, Sweden, Rahlves is 29th on the World Cup points list with 226.
“But he’ll be back Saturday. We’ll have the same bibs,” Egan went on, “so we’ll have the fit problem all weekend. I guess Daron will just have to eat a huge dinner and breakfast to fill out the bib. Daron’s not a smallguy, but he’s not a heavy guy in the chest, not a big old, round dude like a lot of other guys. The bib was fitting like a tent. He just rounded a ball in the back so it wouldn’t flop around so much.”
The downhill was the first of two scheduled for Kvitfjell. It originally was to be held in Wengen, Switzerland, in January but was shifted to Utah’s Snowbasin for last weekend, but too much snow wiped out that entire weekend.
CAFE de COLOMBIA WORLD CUP
Kvitfjell, NOR – March 2
Men’s DH (previously scheduled for Wengen, SUI)
1. Hermann Maier, Austria, 1:45.90
2. Florian Eckert, Germany, 1:46.05
3. Lasse Kjus, Norway, 1:46.09
4. Fritz Strobl, Austria, 1:46.23
5. Didier Defago, Switzerland, 1:46.24 33. Chad Fleischer, Vail, CO, 1:48.14
41. Chris Puckett, Boulder, CO, 1:48.92
Disqualified: Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, CA
Cafe de Colombia World Cup
1. Maier – 1,273 points
2. Kjus – 779
3. Benjamin Raich, Austria, 705
4. Heinz Schilchegger, Austria, 701
5. Michael Von Gruenigen, Switzerland, 693 14. Erik Schlopy, Park City, UT, 354
29. Rahlves, 226
35. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 185
47. Fleischer, 123
58. Casey Puckett, Aspen, CO, 85
117. Chris Puckett, Boulder, CO, 14
123. Thoomas Vonn, Newburgh, NY, 12
125. (tie) Sacha Gros, Vail, CO, and Dane Spencer, Boise, ID, 11 each
133. Jake Fiala, Breckenridge, CO, 5
138. Brett Fischer, Winter Park, CO, 2