Rahlves wins World Cup downhill | VailDaily.com

Rahlves wins World Cup downhill

JOHN MOSSMAN - AP Sports Writer
AP PhotosAP Photos

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) – Winning at home was sweet – and long overdue – for American Daron Rahlves.

Rahlves won a World Cup downhill Friday, finishing 0.69 seconds ahead of Stephan Eberharter of Austria and Bjarne Solbakken of Norway, who tied for second.

Rahlves skied aggressively from the start to post a time of 1 minute, 39.59 seconds on the demanding Birds of Prey course. It was his fifth career victory.

Eberharter and Solbakken finished in 1:40.28.

Austria’s Michael Walchhofer, who won the season’s opening downhill last Saturday in Lake Louise, Alberta, was fourth, followed by Hermann Maier of Austria and Lasse Kjus of Norway.

Rahlves’ win marked only the second victory by an American man in a World Cup race in the United States since 1984. Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., won a giant slalom at Park City, Utah, on Nov. 22.

“It feels special, really good,” said Rahlves, of Sugar Bowl, Calif. “We live here, it’s like our hometown hill. It’s our only World Cup downhill. So we want to put down good performances.

“It gets old having the Austrians or the Norwegians skiing fast here and no Americans.”

Solbakken, the fourth skier out of the starting gate, put up a time that withstood challenges from the next 23 skiers.

But Rahlves, who placed fifth in a training run on Thursday and liked his chances in Friday’s race, was faster. After crossing the finish line and seeing his time on the scoreboard, he pumped his fist in the air.

“I skied really fast on the bottom,” Rahlves said. “Pretty much top to bottom, I was ahead the whole way. I was spent at the finish. That’s all I had.

“I just got over a cold. Mentally, I wasn’t feeling sharp and didn’t have a lot of energy. But sometimes you can overcome your physical feelings with just mental attitude.”

Eberharter said he was “very happy with this result because I had some mistakes in the steep section. So I was surprised to be in second place.”

Solbakken admitted it was hard to watch so many skiers take a shot at his time. He also placed second in Thursday’s training run, behind Maier.

‘Here I am and I did the same,” he said. “So I’m pretty happy.”

Miller, the World Cup overall standings leader, put together a fast run but fell near the finish. He was thrown back on his skis in a depressed area on the course and went airborne, breaking his left ski as he landed. He was not hurt.

“I skied too direct coming into the compression,” Miller said. “It was dark in there and I couldn’t see. I tried to make a turn in there and I just got bounced back. It was just unlucky. I got bounced the wrong way and it was over.

“I’m a little bit sore, but I’ll be fine.”

Austria’s Hans Knauss also had a quick run going before skiing wide on one of the final turns and missing a gate.

Maier, the three-time World Cup overall champion who paced Thursday’s training run, was diappointed with his race.

“Today was a very bad run,” he said. “I lost a lot of time on the top. I have to ski more relaxed. Maybe then I’m faster.”

The race was a makeup of an event scheduled for next week in Val d’Isere, France, but cancelled because of warm temperatures. Another downhill is scheduled here Saturday, with a super-G on Sunday.

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