Rahlves is back at the Beav’ – as a fan
BEAVER CREEK – It was the question everyone had been asking. What would the Birds of Prey be like without American Daron Rahlves?Well, the speculation will continue.
Rahlves, a five-time podium finisher at the Birds of Prey who retired at the end of last year, was back in Beaver Creek Friday, but as a spectator.”I didn’t know if I wanted to come back,” said Rahlves, who won last year’s downhill and took second in the giant slalom. “But you know, I kind of changed some plans and finally made the decision to come here and try and bring a little more energy and pull for these guys a little bit.”Thursday night, Rahlves joined his former teammates at a U.S. Ski Team and gave the guys a few words of advice along with coaches Chris Brigham and John McBride.”I said basically just stomp on ’em, and, you know, this is a course you can’t be relaxed when you ski, you’ve gotta attack the whole way,” Rahlves said.The Americans followed Rahlves’ advice, and emulated his actions from years past.Third-place finisher Steve Nyman gave the Americans another pair of podium finishers for the third year in a row, and took a page of out the Rahlves book of tricks. Nyman did his best to fire up the crowd before Friday’s race.
“That motivated him here in the past – I noticed that from him, and (for me) it took over,” Nyman said. “Daron, I think, was a great example for the passion we carry for this hill. He always talks about putting it down for the home-town crowd.”Phil McNichol, the U.S. men’s coach, enjoyed what Rahlves added to team beyond results. “There is a void. We miss Daron,” McNichol said. “Daron brought so much to the team, more than I even realized until he was actually gone, in his professionalism, attitude and intensity.”
“(I wanted) to hang out at the Pumphouse because every time I go there, it’s pretty loud, and it was the same way for all our guys today,” Rahlves said.Rahlves had always heard the crowd roar while passing by the famed Pumphouse, but never had the opportunity to be part of the screaming masses before.Before Rahlves started a winning tradition at Beaver Creek, an American podium finish was an anomaly.”I feel proud to be a part of the team in the past, and keep seeing Americans step up and own this place,” Rahlves said. “The years I first started coming her, we weren’t doing anything. I look back, in 2003 I won, in 2004 Bode (Miller) won, in 2005 I won, and (this year) Bode wins again, so we have two wins a piece, a couple of seconds and thirds, and it’s just nice to keep coming back. Now, we have fresh blood like Nyman on the podium. It’s important for us to do that on our home turf in Beaver Creek, because we have one chance a year to make it happen.”But Rahlves, the only American to win the downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria, knows the wins aren’t automatic.”People may think it’s kind of easy – we just show up and win, but it’s takes a lot of effort,” Rahlves said. It’s amazing. It’s storybook.”Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.