Rahlves wins downhill, clinches second overall
SESTRIERE, Italy – Daron Rahlves of Sugar Bowl, Calif., the winningest American man in World Cup downhill annals, opened the World Cup Finals Wednesday by collecting his sixth downhill victory and clinching second place in the discipline standings again.
Hermann Maier of Austria and American Bode Miller both finished out of the points, which go to only the top 15 finishers at Finals, increasing the drama in their duel for the overall title.
The last four races of the alpine season are being staged in Sestriere, the 1987 International Federation of Skiing World Alpine Championships host and the alpine site for the 2006 Olympics.
“I’m super stoked. This is the way I wanted to end the season,” said Rahlves, a Green Mountain Valley Schoo grad who won Sunday’s super-G in Kvitfjell, Norway.
Rahlves, who had won the Chevy Truck Birds of Prey downhill at Beaver Creek earlier this season and two super-Gs, nailed the bottom of the 3.3K Kandahar speed run to finish in 1 minute, 51.88 seconds.
Second place went to Tuesday’s training run leader, Austria’s Fritz Strobl (1:51.98), with Stephan Eberharter of Austria – who has won the last two overall World Cup championships and three straight World Cup DH titles – in third.
Maier, looking to pad his 67-point lead over Miller in the overall standings, finished 18th and Miller was 22nd. Maier has clinched the super-G title and the men race super-G Thursday; the drama swings on the weekend to Miller’s strength in technical events – giant slalom Saturday and slalom Sunday.
Maier and Eberharter normally don’t race slalom.
“You couldn’t have scripted it any better,” said Miller, who has claimed for weeks the overall points scrap would go down to the final race.
Maier retains the overall points lead at 1,165 but Eberharter moved back past Miller into second, just 22 points behind (1,143) while Miller is third (1,098), Austrian Benjamin Raich fourth (1,063) and Rahlves fifth (928). Eberharter took his third downhill title with 831 points; for the second year in a row, Rahlves was No. 2 at 627.
Outdoor Life Network, which covers the World Cup all season in Europe, will broadcast coverage Saturday at 5 p.m. of Miller’s bid to win the giant slalom title; he heads into the last giant slalom with a 61-point margin over Finn Kalle Palander.
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