Rahlves appears ready to turn his season around
BORMIO, Italy – Daron Rahlves appears ready to turn around a disappointing season that could be his last on the World Cup circuit.The American led a downhill training session for the second day in a row, while teammate Bode Miller was slightly injured in a fall Wednesday.”I’ve got to make the most of it because I don’t know if I’m going to be back,” Rahlves said. “There’s a lot more things I want to do with my life.”Miller fell early in his run and crashed into the safety fencing. He had a few facial cuts, but plans to race Thursday.”His mouth is swollen and his face is bruised. He’s not going to compete for Mr. Italy tonight,” said Miller’s spokesman, Marc Habermann.Rahlves is looking to be more consistent. He won the downhill in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Dec. 2 – but has finished no higher than 14th in the other three races in his favorite discipline.The 32-year-old Californian is ninth in the downhill standings, 145 points behind leader Fritz Strobl of Austria, but remains hopeful.”I’d like to be wearing the red (leader’s) bib in downhill,” Rahlves said.The 2.3-mile Stelvio course, considered the most physically demanding in World Cup skiing, is the perfect place for Rahlves to make up ground.He won the World Cup downhill here in 2002 and finished second behind Miller in the downhill at last season’s world championships.”It would be nice to turn the tables,” Rahlves said.He got off to a great start Wednesday, getting down the slope in 1 minute, 59.57 seconds. Kurt Sulzenbacher of Italy was second, 0.72 seconds behind. Andreas Schifferer of Austria was third, 0.88 back.Despite his teammate’s spill, Rahlves thinks Miller will be a factor in the race Thursday.”He’s going to be tough to beat here,” Rahlves said.Miller had an MRI on his left knee Dec. 22, following a fall four days earlier in a giant slalom in Alta Badia, Italy.”It’s just a bruise. The doctors said it will go away,” Habermann said.Miller has a good chance to get back on top of the overall standings with leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway out with a broken rib. Miller trails Svindal by eight points.Svindal is expected to miss only this race and return for the giant slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland, on Jan. 7.Rahlves listed Thursday’s race as one of his four main goals. The others are Beaver Creek, Kitzbuehel next month and the Olympics in February.”Every time I come here to Bormio I’m real excited to ski,” Rahlves said. “It’s one of those tough downhills that really challenges you in a lot of ways.”You kick out of the start, pick up speed really quick and you’re in the air on the second turn. From the beginning to the time you cross the finish line, there’s never any time to rest.”After he retires, Rahlves wants to get involved in filming ski racing.”No coaching,” he said. “I don’t have the patience for that. But I’d definitely like to consult and help out some kids and try to inspire them. There’s only so much you can say. You’ve got to have it in you and you’ve got to be able to dig and fight.”That’s what Bode has and that’s what all the top guys have. There’s some guys on our team with a lot of talent, but when it comes down to something like this (the Stelvio course) it’s hard for a lot of guys to step up.”Most of all, Rahlves is looking forward to spending more time at home in Truckee, Calif., with wife Michelle and dog Chevy.”I spend an hour on the phone every day,” he said. “I call in the morning. I call at night. It’s tough, that’s probably the hardest thing with this life, especially over the holidays.”
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