Rahlves Takes Back-to-Back Downhill Wins
KVITFJELL, Norway – Even a late night and winds didn’t bother Daron Rahlves as he scorched a windy Olympiabakken downhill run Saturday for his second World Cup win in 24 hours.
Rahlves, of Truckee, who won Friday’s downhill by .09 seconds, doubled the distance to .18 over Italian racer Kristian Ghedina. Ghedina just shook his head and said, even when he finally knocks off Hermann Maier and his Austrian colleagues, someone else wins.
“It’s awesome,” Rahlves said. “(Friday) was great, but now, to back it up the following day, to win again is double the pleasure … just such a good feeling.”
In downhill No. 2, Rahlves finished in 1 minute, 28.88 seconds with Ghedina second in 1:29.06. Germany’s Max Rauffer was the surprise third-place finisher, in 1:29.25.
Maier, the World Cup leader, was fourth.
Chris Puckett of Boulder, Colo., finished 25th in 1:30.32.
An American man hasn’t won back-to-back World Cup anything since Bill Johnson won in Aspen, Colo., and then Whistler, British Columbia, at the tail end of the 1984 season. On Friday, about eight inches of new snow delayed the start of the race and organizers dropped the start about 200 meters to the Olympic combined start. On Saturday, with the winds back again, things started on time at the lowered start. Rahlves – who went on Norwegian television after dinner and called friends in California (nine-hour time difference) to celebrate his first win, and then still couldn’t get to sleep until about 2 a.m. – made it two straight victories.
The U.S. record is the six in a row. Picabo Street won from the end of the 1995 season into the start of the ’96 season.
“It was beautiful, but we had some winds. The winds didn’t have as much of an impact as they did (Friday),” Rahlves said, “but they were definitely there – tail wind here, head wind there…you felt it.”
Rahlves, who used the same skis he rode when he won his training run Wednesday and when he won Friday, said the first victory took pressure off him.
“I knew I was gonna be somewhere on the podium. I didn’t expect to win, but I knew it was a good run. And with the training runs I’d had (first Wednesday, fourth Thursday) and my run (Friday), to come down that way I knew I’d be in there …
“I just want to keep riding this wave and keep going with it,” he said. “I’m not gonna win every race, but two in the last two days, I can’t ask for anything more. It’s great. I’m really enjoying it. I’ve been kind of consistent with my races but nothing spectacular, but now I feel like I own it. Before, it was just a shot in the dark – fourth, boom, out of nowhere (in March, 1995) – but I’ve been around a couple of years now. I’ve paid some dues. I’ve learned a lot. Now, I’m totally comfortable with it. I’m still amazed (with my second win), but it’s so good to have been able to back it up. “
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