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World Cup ski cross: Rahlves taken out at 2010 Olympic venue

U.S. Ski Team reports

CYPRESS MOUNTAIN, BC (Feb. 6) ” Truckee’s Daron Rahlves was taken out in a crash in the opening round of an FIS Freestyle World Cup ski cross on the Olympic venue in Cypress Mountain, B.C., on Friday.

Casey Puckett survived a tough day out of the starting gates to finish sixth to lead the American men.

The Canadians used their familiarity with the course to their advantage, sweeping the men’s podium and taking the top two women’s spots. Canadian Chris DelBosco, who also led qualifying, won the men’s over teammate Stanley Hayer. Canadian Aleisha Cline won over countrywoman Ashleigh McIvor when World Cup leader Ophelie David of France crashed while leading the final.

Rahlves qualified third and figured to advance handily out of the opening round of 32. But a tangle with Canadian Dave Duncan coming into the final course features sent him down hard. “He completely took out my line,” Rahlves said of Duncan. “As we came into the final tabletop he leaned into me, elbowed me and completely took me out.”

Rahlves said Duncan cut in on him as the two headed into the final tabletop, pushing Rahlves completely sideways between the two jumps, and he crashed hard. Rahlves verbally protested in the finish, but officials allowed Duncan to advance and disqualified Rahlves for grabbing Duncan.

“Daron was fighting the whole way,” said Shepherd. “I thought he was going to make the pass but there was some questionable contact. It’s tough to say what would have happened but I think he was skiing well enough to make the pass and he should have been moving on.”

The event was an opportunity to preview the course that will be used for both snowboardcross and ski cross in 2010.

“The course is really really good. It’s very challenging,” Shepherd said. “The start is something different than we’ve never really seen. It was similar to the Deer Valley course last year with what we call a Wu-Tang. There’s two of them in a row and we definitely need to work on them so we can get a lot quicker. But the other features, including the banks, were really well built as well as the other jumps. I think the snowboarders next week will have a great time. We have some work to do to figure out how we can address and figure out this terrain a little bit. If we’re going to get these kicky style jumps next year we certainly want to get some practice on them.”

Added Pucket: “The hill itself is on the steeper side if you compare it to other ski crosses – it’s actually average compared to the ones in Europe, but other ones in North America are usually flat. It also does a lot of winding back and forth. The hill itself actually lends itself to a pretty nice set and Jeff, the course builder, sets huge berms, which is another thing we’re not really used to – it’s more of a snowboarder thing. It definitely has a snowboard feel to it.”

The weather also proved interesting, with huge fog banks moving in and out of the course all afternoon long.

“The fog was a concern because this snow, it was a little bit like skiing in a sand box,” said Puckett. “You land off those big jumps and it just grabs your feet. I think some people just stoped when they landed. It was really strange to ski in and to have that kind of condition with no visibility was a little bit sketchy, but they pulled it off and they kept running it when it was nasty fog. I think they probably would have stopped it if it were an alpine race, but they just kept going.”

The World Cup ski cross circuit now heads to Norway and Sweden before the World Championships in Inawashiro, Japan in early March. Puckett and Jake Fiala will compete for the United States, while Rahlves will remain in the country until Worlds.

Men

1. Chris DelBosco, Canada

2. Stanley Hayer, Canada

3. Davey Barr, Canada

4. Thomas Kraus, Czech Republic

6. Casey Puckett, Aspen, Colo.

Not qualified for top 32 finals

45. Biche Rudigoz, Ketchum, Idaho

47. Jake Fiala, Frisco, Colo.

52. Justin Johnson, Park City, Utah

53. John Teller, Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

62. Cody Smith, Spokane, Wash.

DQ: Daron Rahlves, Truckee, Calif.

Women

1. Aleisha Cline, Canada

2. Ashley McIvor, Canada

3. Karin Huttary, Austria

4. Ophelie David, France

Not qualified for top 32 finals

33. Caitlin Ciccone, Littleton, N.H.

34. Langley McNeal, Ketchum, Idaho


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