Rahlves wins third World Cup victory
Reigning world super giant slalom champion Daron Rahlves, playing catch-up with teammate Bode Miller, devoured an icy downhill in Bormi, Italy, Sunday to collect the third World Cup victory of his career.
Bode Miller, from Franconia, N.H., closed-in on points leader Stephan Eberharter of Austria by finishing fifth. It’s the first time the U.S. Ski Team has had two men in the top five of a downhill since Aspen, Colo., in March 1968 and only the second time in World Cup history.
Rahlves finished in 2 minutes, 1.42 seconds. Miller, who won a World Cup giant slalom last Sunday in Alta Badia, Italy — his first World Cup victory this year — finished in 2:02:08.
The Austrians finished runner-up through fourth with Fritz Strobl (2:01.60) leading the pack, Hannes Trinkl (2:01.66) at third and Peter Rzehak (2:01.85) at fourth.
Eberharter, who won the first three downhills of the season before injuring a knee two weeks ago in Val d’Isere, France, failed to finish. After 14 races, Eberharter has 548 points and Miller, No. 2, has 478.
“Bode did it last week and he’s been challenging me, so I had to step up and get it in gear,” said Rahlves, who’s 13th in World Cup points standings.
A year ago in Bormio, Rahlves was sixth in one downhill, losing time at the bottom of the course, and 13th in the second of two downhills.
After a training run Friday, rain and poor conditions canceled competition Saturday, which gave all the skiers an extra day to rest. The rest likely helped Rahlves, who had been training hard before the event was prepared for a course he knew would be among the toughest on the World Cup tour.
“This is definitely one of the most challenging hills around. It’s like the second-longest course there is. It’s relentless, top to bottom,” Rahlves said. “It doesn’t give you a chance to rest at any time. You’re either going over big jumps or little rolls or turns the whole way down.”
But this is the kind of hill technically, physically and mentally that the Lake Tahoe skier enjoys.
“It’s ‘Game on!’ from the start. You have zero time to back off anywhere- it’s what I like most,” he said.
Rahlves skied 10th a day after rain wiped out the second and final training run. The conditions were far different from Friday and much rougher.
“It’s a good course for me. It’s pretty turny and bumpy. I have problems on bumps but I can stay aggressive while a lot of guys get passive,” said Miller, who skied 12th Sunday. “I was fortunate: ‘D’ put down a great run. I charged maybe more than I would have, but I was psyched. I wanted to beat him.”
It’s the first time U.S. men have won back-to-back races since last season, when Miller won a giant slalom in Val d’Isere and then in Madonna diCampiglio, Italy, the next night. Rahlves also won two downhills in 24 hours March 3-4, 2000 in Kvitfjell, Norway, on the 1994 Olympic speed run north of Lillehammer.
“The guys skied fantastic,” said men’s downhill/super-G head coach John McBride. “Daron had a little bobble up top and got pushed a little wide on one spot at the bottom, but he was gunning it. He and Bode skied so well.”
The next men’s races are a giant slalom and slalom on Saturday and Sunday in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
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