Truckee skier takes super-G championship in Austria
ST. ANTON, AUSTRIA – Truckee local Daron Rahlves has done it again, taking the men’s super-G race in the World Alpine Ski Championships over Austrian favorite Hermann Maier.
Rahlves took the gold, winning by .08 seconds over Austrian Stephan Eberharter.
Maier, who has been on top for much of this World Cup season and who is one of the most successful racers of the decade, finished in third place. Eberharter, who was the 1991 super-G champion in Saalbach, Austria, delivered a time of 1:21.54, just behind Rahlves’ performance of 1:21.46.
Twenty-seven-year-old Rahlves captured the first world skiing championship gold medal by a U.S. man since Steve Mahre won the giant slalom in Austria in 1982. It is also the first World Championships super-G medal won by an American.
“I skied really well up top, but I made a mistake in the middle,” Rahlves said in a press release. “but I kept fighting. I didn’t panic I kept puttin’ em down the hill. I was aggressive.”
U.S. Head Coach Bill Egan said, “you could hear the crowd deflating as Daron came down the hill. With every split, every intermediate [time], they let out this huge sigh.”
Rahlves has had a slow start to this season’s World Cup schedule after winning back-to-back World Cup downhills in Norway last year.
Several weeks ago in St. Anton, Rahlves began to turn things around, finishing fourth in a World Cup super-G in Kitzbuehel, Austria. He also tied for third on the downhill in Kitzbuehel on an extremely challenging race course.
The young skier is the official skiing ambassador of Sugar Bowl Ski Resort and trains at the mountain’s racing arena during breaks from competition. While Rahlves has been skiing for nearly all of his life, he did not begin racing until age 13. In the last few years, he has become one of the most dominating U.S. male skiers, working to keep a struggling American program alive.
Rahlves has overcome two dislocated hips in five years as well as many disappointing losses to the dominating Austrian team. Hosting the 1999 World Championships and failing to win a medal was a difficult blow to the U.S. skiers, and Rahlves’ victory may be just the boost they need looking toward Salt Lake in 2002.
He attributed his success on Tuesday to “a good holiday rest and some fun skiing at home [Sugar Bowl].”
Sugar Bowl representatives voiced the resort’s pride in their association with such an incredible athlete, noting “he exemplifies both dedication and class.”
“We are fired up! He is an awesome skier and a great guy and we are so proud to have him as an ambassador for this mountain,” Sugar Bowl Marketing Director Greg Murtha said after the win.
Murtha confirmed that Rahlves enjoyed the finest bottle of champagne he could find in St. Anton on Tuesday night, in celebration of his surprising victory.
Rahlves is expected to return to Truckee a week from this Saturday, and tentative plans are in the works for a celebration parade in his honor.
“We are still working to coordinate a welcome home event with Daron and will hopefully have a plan in the works soon,” said Murtha.
The men’s next race at the World Championships is the downhill on Saturday where Rahlves will have the opportunity to win another medal.
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