U.S. super-G championship goes to Daron Rahlves
Former super-G world champion Daron Rahlves collected the fifth U.S. title of his career Saturday, overcoming softening snow to win the men’s super-G on Day 2 of the U.S. Alpine Championships in Girdwood, Alaska.
Dane Spencer (Boise, ID) was the silver medalist and Battle Mountain Alumnus Jake Fiala was third.
Rahlves, racing at the U.S. Championships for the first time in three seasons after injuries sidelined him the last two years – and looking to make up a bit after being upset Friday in the downhill by World Cup teammate Bryon Friedman, had a time of 1 minute, 08.72 seconds. Spencer finished in 1:09.29 and Fiala’s bronze-medal time was 1:09.67 in the clear, 12-degree weather.
Andre Horton was fourth and Aspen’s Jake Zamansky completed the top five in the field of 68. Defending super-G gold medalist Bode Miller was 12th; while 15 skiers failed to finish; Friedman was one of two racers who missed a gate on the technical, lower half of the course at Alyeska Resort.
“It’s not a traditional super-G. Up top on the flats it is,” said Rahlves, the super-G gold medalist at the 2001 World Championships, “But then you really put some big swings on the turns. You have to be smart tactically. The biggest turns are where it’s really soft. You have to be really smart and (thinking) ahead of it.”
The super-G skied very differently from Friday’s downhill where he was third after winning a FIS downhill Thursday. The super-G title is his second, along with a downhill championship and two giant-slalom titles.
Spencer, who deals with chronic back pain, said he tweaked a knee in the downhill, so he was “a little unsure” at the start of the super-G.
“I hurt my knee a little off one of those big jumps, so I wasn’t fired-up, but I got on course and right away everything felt good, so I attacked,” Spencer said.
“The top was definitely super -G speeds, the skis were running well. From Waterfall (the second of two jumps, located just above a traverse to the drop down to the last section), down to the finish, it’s really demanding. Big turns … it keeps coming at you, But, I was able to keep ahead of it most of the time.
The men go from speed to technical racing Sunday with slalom. Monday, they complete their Championships schedule – the first time the U.S. championships have been at Alyeska since 1981 … when there was no super-G.