Rahlves fails to medal at Olympics
February 20, 2002
SNOWBASIN, Utah — One of the toughest super G courses in the world, the Grizzly at Snowbasin, tore apart 18 skiers who did not finish Saturday and left the U.S. without a top five finisher.
Truckee’s Daron Rahlves, the reigning World Champion in the event, finished eighth after a conservative run.
Rahlves, who had placed 16th in the men’s downhill competition earlier in the games, leaves the Olympics without a medal.
“I got behind, hit a hole and I think I just killed all the speed,” Rahlves said. “I tried to be safe and make it through. Why I wanted to race was for medals, hopefully for gold. It sucks to be walking away without one.”
Winning the event in 1:21.58 was Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt, earning his second gold (combined and super G) of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
Favored Austrian Stephan Eberharter, who won three of the four World Cup super Gs this season, took second. His teammate Andreas Schifferer finished in third.
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In his first Olympic Winter Games, Thomas Vonn (Newburgh, N.Y.) provided a bright spot for the U.S. team, finishing .74 seconds behind Rahlves for ninth place. Vonn didn’t make the 2001 World Championships Team and had to work his way back up through top finishes on the Nor Am circuit.
“My plan was just to ski how I know I can ski — forget about the Olympics and the crowd,” said Vonn. “I was a sleeper all right, but I knew I could ski with these guys.”
Vonn capitalized on his late start order, watching other skiers and getting a feel for the course. He said it helped him plan out his run. Behind Vonn was teammate Scott Macartney (Redmond, Wash.) in 25th.
“The course was extremely tough, just turn after turn after turn,” said Vonn. “And it was the fastest I’ve ever run top-to-bottom, including Kitzbuehel (Austria).”
Marco Sullivan of Tahoe City did not finish. Sulivan did win ninth place in the men’s downhill last week, the highest American finisher.
The undergate after the Buffalo Jump at the top of the course’s final pitch proved to be the demise for many competitors, including top skiers Lasse Kjus of Norway and Fredrik Nyberg of Sweden.
“It’s probably the toughest super G I’ve ever skied,” Rahlves said of the course. “You see a lot of guys going out at the bottom. It’s a tough course that will challenge the best.”
It was a successful Olympic Winter Games for the U.S. snowboarders as the Team took home five total medals.
The latest was Chris Klug’s (Aspen, Colo.) bronze in the parallel giant slalom Friday. The men halfpipe riders swept the podium Monday with Ross Powers (South Londonderry, Vt.) taking gold, Danny Kass (Hamburg, N.J.) winning the silver and JJ Thomas (Golden, Colo.) taking bronze. Sunday, Kelly Clark (Mount Snow, Vt.) won the gold medal in the women’s halfpipe event.