‘Oh, say can you D’
BEAVER CREEK – What happens when two teammates, separate in competition, produce two of the most perfect efforts of their individual careers? For the Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter of the U.S. Ski Team, Daron Rahlves and Bode Miller, it means shared celebration and congratulations.No regrets hovered around the 0.16 seconds that kept Rahlves’ name in the second-place spot after Friday’s World Cup men’s downhill competition at the Birds of Prey.Rahlves’ performance hardly bears less glory than Miller’s first-place effort, as the day was one of team dominance. Though, this is not to deflate the top spot because, after all, Miller and Rahlves bring no shame or muffled tone to admissions of their shared desire to always achieve gold individually.So, after what he deemed “a perfect effort,” Rahlves admitted to some frustrations caused by previous performances that could have shortened his World Cup season had he not produced such a fantastic run on Friday.
“I needed a podium day; that’s what I was telling everybody yesterday. I was so mad and frustrated that if I didn’t jump on the podium here today, I was going to go home for a month, take a break, have Christmas at home for the first time in years and then come out performing,” said Rahlves. “I put some extra pressure on myself by saying that stuff. (I was) just trying to get myself amped up more.”Rahlves’ verbal ultimatums wound up being positive, like releasing a great burden. “Last night, I slept better than I have since I’ve been away from home. I decided not to go freeskiing this morning, and I just laid in bed until almost 8 o’clock and just tried to really recharge,” said Rahlves. “It took me awhile to wake up today, but once I was up on the hill for inspection, I was just zoned-in, focused and charged up.”The charge Rahlves instilled in himself blew through the entire crowd with tornadic speed as he soared over the homestretch of Golden Eagle.
“I saw everybody jumping up and down, (then I began) searching for the board, to see where I stood, but it’s a sweet, supportive crowd here; everybody’s fired up and today was an insane day,” said Rahlves. “It was awesome for the U.S.”In retrospect of a run, Rahlves says there are always a few moments he can remember that could be changed to make for a better finish, but he was a happy skier, all things considered, with a healthy boost of confidence.”I know that I have the capability of being a great skier, and sometimes I have a bad day, and other days I have a great day,” said Rahlves. “It’s kind of back-to-back, and that’s kind of what’s so great about this sport.” Rahlves proved no stranger to the notion that a person learns new things every day, which means that no day can be completely negative. However, that doesn’t mean that some days aren’t harder than others.
“It’s so hard being a ski racer because no matter how good you feel, if you make it three-quarters of the way down and you’re really fast, it’s still just all about the result. And, the result is what basically judges the outcome of the day,” said Rahlves. “You could still have a great feeling, but it’s nice to match a great feeling with a great race.”Rahlves gave his best effort in the downhill, and though Miller landed higher on the scoreboard, Rahlves was able to celebrate the significance of a big day for everyone on the U.S. Team.”Starting 31, with all the best guys in the world down already, I was really excited, but even more to see Miller and me, that made it more of a 1-2 punch. It’s just a great feeling, like a cold knockout,” said Rahlves. “It was the coolest moment. I just went over there, grabbed that flag out of the crowd, skied it over and Bode came running out and it seemed like it was right on beat.”It’s intense. I mean, we’ve been trying to do this for such a long time, and I did feel like if we did this 1-2 thing I might have been the one on top, but I was trying to cut myself from that (line of thought). But, I’m fired up for Bode. He is skiing so good and it’s nice to have a teammate that has the speed right there, and we’re both going out there, knowing every day now that we have a chance of skiing really fast.”