Rahlves’ medal hopes dashed
SESTRIERE COLLE, Italy – It’s not the blaze of glory he envisioned for his exit from ski racing. Daron Rahlves wanted an Olympic gold medal more than anything this season, and he had his last chance in Monday’s giant slalom.
Rahlves was ripping his way down the course in the first run Monday. As he swung around one gate to the next, he was behind the leader’s time, but gaining speed with every interval. He was more than halfway down when he picked up too much speed, swung drastically to the left and skidded off course, putting an end to his disappointing Olympics run.
“I hated to go out,” Rahlves said after his run, still as amicable as ever, but clearly saddened. “I had my chances. I had three chances. I have a sour taste in my mouth. It’s going to take a while to figure out what happened.”
Rahlves was not alone in the attrition. Thirty-four of 82 starters ended up on the “did not finish” list after the first run, including Rahlves’ teammate, Olympic combined gold medalist Ted Ligety.
“It’s definitely a bummer for him,” Ligety said of Rahlves. “These are probably his last Olympics and no medals.”
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While the course posed obvious challenges for all racers, Rahlves said that he alone can be held accountable for his mistakes.
“The course is very challenging. It’s a good race course,” he said. “I had to charge and I was getting carried away with myself and just not settling down. It was a scrappy run.”
Bode Miller, who took to the course before Rahlves, got messy near the end of his run too, and ended up in 12th position after the first run ” and sixth after it was all said and done.
“I saw Bode. I was like, ‘Man. I’ve got to go for it,'” Rahvles said. “It was just the wrong way to do it.”
Rahlves finished 10th in the downhill, an event he badly wanted to win, and ninth in super-G. His efforts, while amounting to far less than he hoped, accounted for some of the better results from the U.S. Ski Team. At this point in the Games, Ligety is the only U.S. racer with a medal (gold in combined).
“It sucks. We definitely came up very short,” Rahlves said. “It was definitely a poor performance. Woulda, shoulda, coulda. We’ve won in every (World Cup) event this year.”
It just didn’t happen in Italy.
“The Olympics are an opportunity to showcase our sport and ourselves,” he said. “It wasn’t for lack of trying, that’s for sure.”
As to his own Olympic performance, Rahlves shook his head in sad frustration.
“I was skiing well all year,” he said. “It’s just kind of whacky how the wheels fell off and I wasn’t able to get it done here.”
And it could be a long trip home to California.
“It’s not the way I wanted it to end. It’s not the way I wanted to get back to Truckee,” he said. “But you got to step forward and move ahead.”
Rahlves will finish the World Cup circuit, which wraps up March 19 in Sweden. When asked if there was a chance he would race in the Beaver Creek World Cup races next year ” one of his favorite stops on the circuit ” Rahlves said doing so would require too much preparation. After the World Cup finals, he said, his racing career will be over.
“This is the last time I will ski in an event like this,” he said of the Olympics. “If you win a gold medal in the Olympics, it doesn’t matter what else you’ve done. I definitely wanted to walk away from here on top. I came in here feeling good, and it didn’t happen.”