Rapping with Rahlves: Former Alpine star talks about skiercross medal chances
The Sierra Sun caught up with Truckee Olympic-bound skicross racer Daron Rahlves on Thursday for a Q&A about the quickly approaching Winter Games in Vancouver.
Now 36, Rahlves remains one of the most successful American downhill skiers of all time, recording 12 World Cup wins and 28 podium finishes in 13 years on the U.S. Alpine Ski Team. He competed in three Winter Olympic Games before retiring from alpine racing after the 2006 Olympics.
But he wasn’t through. Instead of hanging up his racing skis, Rahlves – who serves as Sugar Bowl’s ski ambassador – decided to test his skills in skicross, which is set to debut at the 2010 Games.
After competing in only North American World Cup stops and pro events last year so he could spend more time with his family, Rahlves has been more active this year in his pursuit to qualify for the Olympics. On Jan. 5 he achieved just that with a second-place finish in a World Cup race in St. Johann, Austria.
On Thursday, Rahlves was on a layover in Denver as he flew to Lake Placid, N.Y., for the Nature Valley Freestyle Cup – the final World Cup event before the Winter Olympics begin the second week of February. Check out what Rahlves had to say:
SS: With the Olympics coming up next month, is it too early to start getting excited?
Rahlves: Yeah, I think it’s too early still. I’m excited for all this snow we’re getting at home. I think I’m missing it right now. I almost pulled the plug on this trip to ski at home. But I’ll be back on Monday for a day of skiing Tuesday. Then it’s back to Aspen (for the X Games) on Wednesday. But it’s hard to leave when it’s this good at home. But I need to stay tuned up and sharp these next couple weeks leading into Vancouver.
SS: What are some of the differences between your Olympic preparation now compared to when you raced Alpine?
Rahlves: It was all about the racing when I was doing Alpine. Now it’s more about the convenience of being home and setting my own schedule, just doing a lot more things in life. But still, when I get that chance, I want to be ready to go.
SS: Having competed in three Winter Olympics, what are some of your favorite Olympic sports to watch in person?
Rahlves: I went and watched boardercross last time, and that was pretty cool. Obviously skicross and boardercross are going to be exciting events to watch. But I’ll watch men’s downhill, for sure, and maybe some hockey … even the double-man luge. I was making jokes with Marco (Sullivan), that we could be a double-man luge team after we’re done racing. But I don’t know if I want to be on top. Actually I don’t know if I’d want to be on the bottom either.
But it’s definitely cool to see all the different events. I think it will be cool watching snowboard halfpipe. It’s too bad skiing (halfpipe) isn’t in there.
SS: In what areas do you think you’ve improved since picking up skicross after the 2006 Olympics?
Rahlves: My starts have improved a lot. I’ve put a lot of effort into training, particularly my starts. … But I’m still trying to improve and learn in these next couple of races coming up.
SS: What would it mean to you to earn an Olympic medal?
Rahlves: It would be really cool. I have yet to do that, and I’m going back for a fourth time, so this better be the one. … It would mean a lot because I don’t have an Olympic medal, but it still wouldn’t make up for not winning the downhill, which was my ultimate goal. I put so much into it. It’s important, but it’s not like it’s everything, like it used to be.
SS: Do you have any specific goals in mind entering the Olympics?
Rahlves: My goal is to make the final, and then see what happens. I feel like I have the skills and the speed to do it, for sure. So it would be nice to medal, and ultimately win.