Hail to the Champ: Truckee’s world champion returns home
Truckee local Daron Rahlves has been known in the community for years. This familiarity is what made Saturday’s homecoming parade at the depot downtown so special for Rahlves and his family.
Two weeks ago, Rahlves became an international celebrity, winning the gold medal in the Super G at the World Alpine Ski Championships in St. Anton, Austria. Thousands of skiing enthusiasts cheered him on in Austria as he accepted the first award of its kind for an American since the early 1980s. Rahlves pulled out a surprisingly speedy final run to move into first place ahead of local favorites Hermann Maier and Stephan Eberharter.
Receiving acclaim from the skiing community and boosting American hopes for medals in Salt Lake in 2002, Rahlves put the U.S. Ski team and Sugar Bowl Ski Resort on the map.
On Saturday, he enjoyed his first respite from the World Cup circuit since early November, taking time to meet young skiers at Sugar Bowl Academy and ski with his favorite skiing partner – his grandfather. Lou Rahlves first introduced 27-year-old Daron to the wonder of skiing almost a quarter of a century ago. Last weekend, the world champion got the chance to show his old teacher a few things on the mountain.
A hero’s welcome awaited Rahlves in Truckee on Saturday night with fireworks, a band and declarations from California Gov. Gray Davis and Truckee Mayor Don McCormack. While the festivities may not have been as grandiose as the likes of foreign affairs, it had something far greater than international flair for Daron – personal attention.
On hand for the evening’s events and the ensuing after-party at OB’s were former teammates, coaches, friends, neighbors and family members – all sharing a connection with Rahlves that precedes his new-found fame.
The Truckee area has been supporting Daron in his skiing for years, even before he joined the U.S. Ski team eight years ago. Rahlves was a household name prior to his World Championship win or his two World Cup wins in a mere 24 hours. Even before Daron won his first U.S. title, his neighbors knew him as a hard-working kid, who just wanted to be the best he could.
“I have tried to be the fastest one on skis for years, and this proves it,” reveled Rahlves as he held up his medal for the crowd on Saturday. Onlookers cheered on the local celebrity with shouts of ‘go for the gold,’ for the boy who Truckee has always known and for the man who the rest of the world is now watching.
Rahlves continues to serve as the Ambassador for Sugar Bowl Ski Resort and returns here to his home between competitions to reconnect with the area and his passion for skiing. He attributed his success in recent weeks on the World Cup tour as well as his gold performance to the time spent at home during the holidays relaxing and enjoying the sport of skiing once again.
Partying it up with friends and family and receiving an extra dose of support from the Truckee community will hopefully serve to fuel Rahlves as he prepares for the Winter Olympic games next year. He is currently in Snowbasin, Utah, the site of the games, getting ready.
When the time comes, the entire basin area will be ready to cheer their local hero on.
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The past few weeks have felt choking. Every time I step outside, I feel like I can’t breathe. The walls that keep the smoke out seem to get smaller and smaller as summer crawls on.