Rahlves fails to finish his final Olympic race | SierraSun.com

Rahlves fails to finish his final Olympic race

AP Photo/Thomas KienzleDaron Rahlves, of Truckee, just before losing control and skiing out during the first run of the Men's Giant Slalom at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Sestriere Colle, Italy Monday Feb. 20.

SESTRIERE, Italy (AP) ” Daron Rahlves is all too aware he’ll leave skiing with a glaring gap on an otherwise distinguished resume: no Olympic medals.

The 32-year-old Truckee resident’s final event at his final Winter Games ended after less than a minute Monday, when he missed a gate during the first run of the two-leg men’s giant slalom.

That followed a 10th-place finish in last week’s downhill, and ninth place in Saturday’s super-G.

“It’s hard to swallow, knowing this is the last time I’ll be racing in an event like this,” Rahlves said. “Three times in the Olympics, and I haven’t medaled.”

Rahlves, who’ll retire at the end of the World Cup season, never finished higher than seventh in seven career Olympic races.

“The Olympics are a great place, a showcase, to show what you’ve got, and to do it for your country, for your team and all that,” he said. “If you get a gold medal in the Olympics, it doesn’t matter what else you’ve done.”

He has done plenty else.

Rahlves is the most decorated U.S. men’s speed skier in the sport’s history: 12 World Cup victories, a 2001 world championship in the super-G, two medals at the 2005 worlds.

Now, though, he’s looking forward to some down time ” relaxing with wife Michelle, riding dirt bikes, surfing.

Whether it’s because of his laid-back demeanor or his lack of success on Alpine skiing’s biggest stage, Rahlves has taken a back seat to teammate Bode Miller. Rahlves says he’s OK with that, reflecting the sort of go-with-the-flow attitude he displayed after earlier disappointments in these games, repeatedly finishing his thoughts with “whatever.”

Looking into the distance as he spoke Monday, though, the man nicknamed “D Money” sounded a sad note.

“I don’t want to walk away like this,” he said. “I’ve got a pretty sour taste in my mouth right now.”

His zero-medal trip to the Italian Alps is part of a poorer-than-expected outing by the U.S. Ski Team.

Rahlves and Ted Ligety, the surprise men’s combined gold medalist who also didn’t finish Monday’s first run, both said the mood among the American skiers remains upbeat, even though they’ve fallen far short of the team’s goal of eight medals for men and women in 10 events.

Rahlves acknowledged he expected more from himself ” and his teammates.

“I really felt like we had a chance, where we could bring medals back down in every event,” Rahlves said. “I’m just shaking my head at it right now. It’s not for a lack of trying.”

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