Rahlves represents for U.S. in top five
BEAVER CREEK – The Americans were 50-50 for finishing Thursday’s World Cup super-G at Beaver Creek.Daron Rahlves had the best U.S. result, finishing almost a second behind winner, Hannes Reichelt, of Austria in fifth place with a time of 1 minute, 18.22 seconds. Utah’s Steve Nyman, who had the best American result in downhill training Tuesday, made off with 25th, despite being one of the last racers on the start list. Scott Macartney was 31st.The course and conditions claimed the others, most notably Bode Miller, who skied off-course when his goggles iced up after he put down the second-fastest first split time. Marco Sullivan took too straight a line through the course and J.J. Johnson went wide and missed a gate coming off of The Talon, the area that claimed most of the DNFed race field.”I wasn’t that jazzed overall,” said U.S. men’s speed coach John McBride. “We should have had more guys in there scoring points. Today, the guys that wanted it came out and put the pins to it, stuck to their plan and scored points. Bode had some trouble with his goggles icing up. You can’t see anything when that happens. It’s not an excuse, but it’s something you have to figure out and make right for the next time.”
Finding mental toughnessRahlves, who was the first American down the course in the No. 28 starting position, was deciding between three different pairs of goggles right before kicking out of the start gate in typical fireball fashion.”It was about the five seconds right before I went that I finally clicked into race mode,” Rahlves said. “It was hard to get into the zone and relax. It was just mind games all day long. We get there and the wind is just ripping at the start.”Rahlves said the chairlift stopped as he was on his way to the top of the course and was “hanging sideways” in the wind.
“I knew it would be pretty tough,” Rahlves said. “It’s tough to ski in soft snow because you have to give yourself even more room to ski in a wide line or a straight line. But the snow was awesome. Everyone did a really good job getting the fresh snow off the course.”Talon takes its tollThe Talon turn after the first split was the area that sidelined most racers who went off course Thursday. Nyman said he remembered this area from videos and approached it accordingly.”I stayed above it,” Nyman said. “It allowed me to maintain my line and stay on the course. I needed to charge, for sure. The whole way down you needed to maintain your line. If you’d go too straight, you’d hit the bumps. I gave a little to gain a little.”
Starting at the back of the field – say, No. 54 – isn’t an advantage after previous racers put ruts into the course. Nyman, however, had the benefit of insight from the course reports from all of his teammates.”As for information, I had better information that anybody,” he said. “Right now, the way I feel is I can start anywhere and see the positive in it.”Johnson and Sullivan hope to redeem their performances in today’s downhill, assuming that it still takes place in the questionable weather. “It’s not what we wanted,” Johnson said of Thursday’s U.S. Team results. “If we could get some decent conditions, maybe we’ll get five of us in the top-30.”Nobody felt that the miserable conditions Thursday accounted for every part of their less-than-ideal runs, but in some cases, the weather dished out forces that couldn’t be reckoned with.
“I got the message to make sure to have no moisture in the goggles,” Sullivan said. “The visibility’s bad already, and when your goggles freeze up, sometimes no matter what, you can’t help it. (The conditions) weren’t 100 percent of why I went off (course). I made a couple of tactical errors. I was going too straight for the conditions.”Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext.14632, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado