SNOWBASIN, Utah (Feb. 10) — Young Marco Sullivan (Tahoe City, Calif.) out-skied veteran teammate Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, Calif.) to place ninth in the men’s downhill on Sunday with a time of 1:40.37.
Sullivan was the best U.S. finisher despite poor results during his two previous training runs on the Grizzly course and a separated shoulder he injured a week ago in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
“I wasn’t nervous or scared about coming out here and laying it all on the line and showing people what I can do,” the 21-year-old said. “Nobody expected me to finish as high as I did, so I’m thrilled with my result.”
Austrian Fritz Strobl won the gold with a time of 1:39.13. Often overshadowed by more illustrious Austrian skiers, he was not favored to win the event and capitalized on mistakes made by teammate Stephan Eberharter, who took the bronze. Norway’s Lasse Kjus won silver.
Sullivan’s ninth place finish puts him eighth among the top U.S. finishes in Olympic history.
“This is hopefully a launching point for my career,” he said. “This is the best result of my career (at this level), and I can only see it going up from here.”
Rahlves, who many thought would challenge the Austrians, placed 16th out of the 55 athletes with a time of 1:40.84. Hitting a jump late, he was in the air for nearly 175 feet, adding precious hundredths of seconds to his time.
“I just made a mistake on the first jump,” he said. “I recovered pretty well from it, started getting back at it in the middle section. But, I blew it again towards the bottom. It was just the flow. There was a little more fighting going on than there was just letting it go down the hill.”
Rahlves still has his premiere event, the super G, to look forward to on February 16. As the reigning World Champion in this event, the 28 year-old will be looking for a better performance.
Fellow U.S. athletes Jakub Fiala (Frisco, Colo.) finished in 27th place and Scott Macartney (Redmond, Wash.) took 29th. The U.S. men’s alpine team will be back on the slopes on February 13 for the Combined.
2002 OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES
February 10, 2002
1. Fritz Strobl, Austria (1:39.13)
2. Lasse Kjus, Norway (1:39.35)
3. Stefan Eberharter, Austria (1:39.41)
9. Marco Sullivan, Tahoe City, Calif. (1:40.37)
16. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, Calif. (1:40.84)
27. Jake Fiala, Frisco, Colo. (1:41.84)
29. Scott Macartney, Remond, Wash. (1:41.86)