Lounging in retirement?
Sun News Service correspondent
Daron Rahlves, that uber-cool, yet gracious, Truckee ski champion produced a stellar race resume over the years. He is the all-time top men’s speed skier in U.S. Ski Team history, posting wins at Austria’s prestigious Hahnenkamm and the Bird’s of Prey course in Beaver Creek, Colo.
Finally, at age 33, Rahlves retired last spring from the ski team, but definitely not from skiing. With no summer race camps to attend, he and wife Michelle surfed from their new vacation home in Southern California, fished in Baja and rode motocross locally, while enjoying plenty of water skiing on Lake Tahoe and Boca.
“It’s not really retirement,” said Rahlves, “more like a transition. Leaving the team has given me a chance at a normal life, instead of being on such tight schedule and traveling all the time. I’m really looking forward to this winter. I went away to an Eastern race academy when I was 13, then right onto the ski team. Except for a few days each Christmas, I honestly haven’t had a winter in Tahoe since then, so it’s been about 20 years.”
Rahlves plans to hit his favorite resorts, but also enjoy some time in the backcountry the new-fashioned way ” via snowmobile.
“This year, I probably won’t even ski until the beginning of December ” and usually I’d have about 40 to 50 days behind me by then,” he said. “I’ll spend most of my time at Sugar Bowl, and then just get on my sled and see what’s out there. I’m looking forward to January on into April to be the core of my season.”
Rahlves has maintained his bevy of sponsors ” industry giants like Atomic, Redbull and Oakley, while forming a new association with Matchstick Productions. He skied with them last spring in Alaska for what was to be 10 days, but got skunked on weather after day one.
“This next spring we’re going to do a segment with me skiing the backcountry around Tahoe,” he said. “Last year, I went out with Brad Holmes and Marco Sullivan for Brad’s new movie, and we snowmobiled into some amazing terrain. That’s the way I like it ” quick access, and more time for descents. And that’s the first I’d ever gone free skiing in Tahoe’s backcountry. I’m really looking forward to doing that again.”
Obviously, the guy hasn’t really retired. In addition to filming with Matchstick, Rahlves plans to compete in a new four-event pro tour and carve a spot for himself at the X Games. Currently, he’s working with Atomic to launch their new Nomad ski series, and plans to race in the Baja 1,000 this month.
“Usually, I’d have to stop riding moto in July to go off with the ski team,” he said. “Lately I’ve been on my bike a lot ” riding Moonrocks to Truckee. That’s what retirement has done; it’s opened up a lot of other opportunities for me. I can always get enough things on my plate ” a little too much maybe.
“Michelle always laughs when I say that I just hang out now around the house, because I never sit on the couch. I’m always doing something.”
Rahlves has become more and more autonomous, professionally and recreationally.
“You have to maintain your bike every day you ride, so I’m in the garage working on that. I moved away from using an agent and took all that on myself, so with contracts and all, it’s a lot of computer time,” Rahlves said. “And right now I’m working on a whole new updated Web site (www.daronrahlves.com), so it’s always something. I’m just lucky to have sponsors who are with me for the long run, rather than some companies who support you until the Olympics is over, then they’re outta there.”
That loyalty may be because Rahlves really hasn’t retired.
“I guess,” Rahlves said with a grin. “A lot of my sponsors are happy to be associated with someone who has life in their lifestyle.”