Rahlves third in Kitzbuehel downhill
KITZBUEHEL, Austria – Norwegian Lasse Kjus nailed the bottom of the Streif Thursday to win a World Cup downhill by .01 seconds over Stephan Eberharter of Austria with American Daron Rahlves completing the podium.
Bode Miller was seventh in the race kicking off the festive 64th Hahnenkamm Weekend.
“It feels great,” Rahlves said. “Any time you’re on a podium here, or in any downhill – but especially in Kitzbuehel, it’s great.”
His podium duplicated his showing in Kitzbuehel three years ago when he tied for third with Eberharter, shortly before he won the super-G gold medal at the 2001 World Championships in St. Anton.
Kjus, in becoming the sixth skier to win in the six downhills this season, reclaimed the World Cup points lead by six points over Austrian Beni Raich. He posted a time of 1 minute, 58.78 seconds.
Eberharter covered the full-length 3.3K course in 1:58.79 and Rahlves was timed in 1:58.98. Miller finished in 1:59.62 and moved back to fifth in the World Cup points while Bryon Friedman, in his first visit to Kitzbuehel, was 26th. Summit County’s Jake Fiala finished 44th.
Downhill head coach John McBride said Rahlves put the pins to it. “It was a great day, starting from the top. The course was well prepared, it was hard snow,” Rahlves said. “I usually ski faster (on the top) but I made a few mistakes.”
He said racing aggressively on the upper midsection was the key to the 12th podium of his career.
“I felt a little uncomfortable with the tight line at the bottom, but that’s what paid off, skiing the way I did on the bottom,” Rahlves said.
Conditions were consistent throughout the day, McBride said. Rahlves said he ran into some flat light and started looking too short ahead, instead of way down the hill.
“I was ragged on a few turns,” he explained.
Rahlves is fifth in downhill standings, six points back of Hermann Maier, who was fourth Thursday. His podium gives Rahlves more confidence as he looks toward Saturday.
The men run super-G today. Rahlves, Miller, Friedman, Fiala and Thomas Vonn will start. McBride said a decision would be made by Thursday night whether to enter a sixth U.S. racer.
Thursday’s downhill was the fourth try at staging the race, which already had run into weather problems in three other sites – Bormio, Italy, Chamonix, France, and last weekend in Wengen, Switzerland.
Outdoor Life Network will carry same-day coverage Saturday at 5 p.m. with rebroadcasts Sunday at 3 p.m. and next Thursday at 8 p.m.
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