Rahlves switching gears
Life as Daron Rahlves knew it has not been, and never will be, the same. And that’s fine by him.
After capping a sparkling 13-year Alpine ski racing career with a win in super-G at the U.S. Alpine Championships in March ” his seventh U.S. title ” the 32-year-old Truckee resident wasted no time transitioning into the next phase of his life.
Retired from Alpine racing, Rahlves hooked up with the crew from Matchstick Productions the following month to try his hand at some big-mountain skiing in Alaska. While he said he got in only two and a half days of the extreme-style skiing before a large storm forced the crew indoors, it was enough to grasp the vast the difference between where he has been with his skiing and where he wants to go.
“It’s tougher than downhill racing …” Rahlves said of big-mountain freeskiing, which he plans to get into now that he is no longer racing on the World Cup circuit. “It’s challenging in a different way. There’s challenges on both sides, for sure. Racing is super competitive. In downhill, you’re racing the clock. With freeskiing, you’ve got to make it look good, too. You’re skiing for the camera a little more than you’re skiing for yourself …
“There’s a lot more to (downhill racing) than people think,” he continued. “It’s a big package that has to come together … But at least you know what you’re getting into. In Alaska, you don’t know what you’re getting into. The first two or three turns you never know what’s going to happen. You’ve just gotta point it.”
Rahlves said he had no intention of pushing his luck.
“I was pretty tame. It was pretty sketchy,” he said. “I was mostly just skiing it, getting in a few airs here and there.”
That mellow approach could change in the future, however, as Rahlves said he’d “definitely like to get more involved” with freeskiing.
Besides freeskiing, Rahlves said he also plans to compete in the Winter X Games in skiercross next winter.
“Something new to do,” he said. “I’m moving to the other side of the ski world.”
Rahlves is in full fair-weather sports mode. Unlike in the past, when Alpine racing ate up most of his year, leaving only a small window of summer to fulfill his other passions, he has sufficient free time to wakeboard and water ski behind his Nautique towboat and ride his new Honda four-stroke dirt bike.
“I’m riding maybe two times a week,” Rahlves said of the seat time he’s getting in on his dirt bike, adding that he just competed in an amateur motocross race in Mammoth, placing first and second and winning his class. Rahlves often rides at Prosser Pits east of Truckee, he said, but on Tuesday he planned to ride at the Mustang MX track east of Reno.
Before this year, Rahlves said he’d typically get in one day of riding a week between mid May and the end of July.
Same goes for his wakeboarding and water skiing, which are now much easier to fit into his schedule. Most of the time Rahlves goes to Boca Reservoir, he said, although he’s been on Tahoe a couple times this summer.
After 13 years on the World Cup scene, Rahlves is enjoying spending some quality time at his home near Prosser Reservoir.
“I want to be around home a lot more,” Rahlves said. “It’s not that I’m tired of racing, I’m just tired of all the traveling and everything that goes into it.”
So when winter rolls around and the bike and boat become idle, Rahlves should be easier to find on local slopes.
“Next winter I want to concentrate on doing a bunch of skiing in Tahoe,” both freeskiing and filming, he said.
“I want to see Tahoe have a huge presence on the World Cup and U.S. Ski teams,” Rahlves said. “I think there’s a lot of talent here, and I want to give back.”
One way to do that, Rahlves said, is to start a skiing training facility under the same roof as Tahoe Forest Hospital’s Center for Health and Sports Performance, where his wife, Michelle, works as a physical therapist.
“I want to pass on some of my knowledge and experience. There’s some great talent here in Tahoe, and I want to see kids have the best opportunity possible,” Rahlves said.
“What ski racing has done for me is open up doors in a lot of ways. I’ve been fortunate. I’ve definitely set myself up pretty nicely through skiing. Now I want to get more involved with the local scene.”
– Daron Rahlves is the most accomplished speed skier in U.S. history.
– Racing on the World Cup circuit for 13 years, Rahlves has nine World Cup downhill victories (most by any U.S. man) and three World Cup super-G wins (tied with Bode Miller).
– At 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, he was one of the smallest men on a World Cup tour.
– He won a super-G world championship gold medal in 2001 and two medals at the 2005 worlds.
– Rahlves won seven U.S. titles, including four super-G titles (2000, ’04, ’05 and ’06), the 2001 downhill championship and two giant slalom titles (1996 and 1995).
– Rahlves represented the U.S. in three Olympic Games.
– What U.S. Ski Team head coach Phil McNichol said of Rahlves: “Daron is the best we have to offer, the absolute epitome of professionalism. He’s the ideal athlete, in my opinion, easy going, likes to have fun and knows how to have it, but he’s supremely focused and supremely disciplined. He’s probably the greatest athlete I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”
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Students frustrated at the cancellation of sports waved signs and delivered speeches at a Truckee High School protest in an attempt to return to the field this year.