Rahlves takes third in Bormio, Italy World Cup races
Daron Rahlves, returning to the hill where he won two weeks earlier and then surviving a near-spill at the bottom of the run, grabbed his third podium of the season Saturday in Bormio, Italy, and broke up an all-Austrian top-three.
Stephan Eberharter reclaimed the World Cup points lead from Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., with a sizzling run for his fourth downhill victory of the season, but Miller came back on Sunday and took the lead back with a second place slalom finish.
With temperatures in the low teens for a race moved from Chamonix, France, because of poor snow conditions, Eberharter, who strained ligaments in his right knee during a crash in a giant slalom Dec. 8 in Val d’Isere, France, won in an unofficial 1:59.27.
It was his sixth victory of the winter; he won the first three downhills of the season before the injury, which forced him to miss Val Gardena and the first DH in Bormio on Dec. 29, a race won by Rahlves.
Fellow Austrian Michael Walchhofer, the only other racer to crack the two-minute barrier, was second (1:59.75) and Rahlves was third (2:00.04) and moved into third place in the DH standings.
Marco Sullivan, of Squaw Valley, was 21st in Saturday’s downhill and 44th in Sunday’s slalom.
“Marco just got better and better all week, from the 50s on the first day of training to 31st (in Friday’s training run) to 21st. He keeps stepping it up,” downhill coach John McBride said.
Sunday’s slalom wasn’t as successful for Rahlves.
“It was a run that was really good and then really bad in spots. I boot-topped a panel (clipped it with the top of his boots because he was so close) tighter than Bode does in slalom,” Rahlves said. “I think my tip was a half-inch away from hitting it. My outside ski was six inches away from hitting it, my boots were locked together. I was going for a straight line at the bottom, and it’s dark, and I hit a bump and that threw me right into the panel. I thought I almost straddled it but I pulled it off,” he added. “But Eberharter ran a great race. It would’ve been tough to beat, but second should’ve been mine.
The bottom proved costly to Rahlves.
“I lost six-tenths on the bottom,” he said. “I skied the top really well, the middle solid, the next section good – I was second to the last split, then lost a little bit more. It’s kind of bittersweet to come back to a hill you’ve won on, and I knew I could do it again. I was going for a repeat.”
Rahlves was third at the Chevy Truck Birds of Prey downhill Dec. 7 at Beaver Creek, CO – the first time three U.S. men had been in the top 10 of a World Cup since 1972 in Kitzbuehel, Austria – and earned his third World Cup win two weeks ago. He headed back to Truckee for the New Year’s holiday, did some skiing and snowboarding, and finished with a day of giant slalom training at Sugar Bowl before returning to Europe.
“It’s great any day you’re on the podium; it’s an awesome feeling,” he said. “You make a mistake, fight, bring it back, keep it going. You’re bound to make mistakes in any type of race but you try to minimalize them and recover.
“It’s awesome. I can’t get over how much it is to ski here. A great powder day is hard to beat but a race day like today… man, Bormio is hard to match. In the racing scene, this place is incredible – the turns, the jumps, the speed. I mean, right out of the start you’re hauling; it’s non-stop… that makes it so much fun”
The resort crafted the course for top speed.
“They did a lot of slipping, buffed it out, made the snow a lot harder. It was slicker in some spots, too, but the snow was ideal – it was smooth but it got some ripples in it, like freshly laid concrete with frost heaves in it, not smooth but not beaten-up, no holes after 20 guys. The hardness was awesome. Bormio did a fantastic job with the course prep.”
In 19 World Cup races thus far, Bode Miller regained the points lead on Sunday, a day after he lost it with 690 points, Rahlves is 14th with 265 and Marco Sullivan is 44 with 102.
After Sunday’s race, Miller regained the lead with a second place finish in a downhill race with 690 points. He didn’t finish Tuesday’s race in Adelboden, Switzerland, but still has the points lead.
Up next, the men race a double-downhill lineup plus slalom and combined Jan. 17-19 in Wengen.
Outdoor Life Network will have race coverage Thursday at 10 p.m. Eastern in its weekly World Cup highlights program.
Rahlves was 15th in the first run but “got sideways on an under-gate” midway through his second and finished 22 at 2:35.08.
“He was having a great day and was .33 ahead, on track for a solid top-10 until he had his problem,” head coach Phil McNichol said.