Friday, December 02, 2005

Birds of Prey Men's Downhill
Rahlves wins!!
It's not a bad day to beging this blog.
I am sitting at the base of Beaver Creek, where the men's World Cup has stopped for four races, and American Daron Rahlves just posted his first victory in what is sure to be a stellar season for the speed ace. Bode Miller came in second, making for an American one-two.
Yesterday was the Super-g, which many racers said was an unfair race. Visibility was poor because a thick layer of fog hung over the mountain. Most of the racers who did well started early in the pack, while those starting in the late 20s and beyond had difficulty. Seasoned vet, Kjetil Andre Aamodt was one racer who did not complain. Apparently, when asked whether or not he thought the race should have been cancelled he said no. This is ski racing, he said, it's an outdoor sport and dealing with snow and fog is part of the package.
American Daron Rahlves was one of the top-ranked skiers to post a strong finish: fifth place. Overall World Cup Champion, Bode Miller, didn't finish the course.
Today weather again plagued the downhill. Early in the morning a fine crystalline mist fell - not quite snow, not quite rain, and fog rolled in and out. One minute the whole hill was visible and the next it was socked back in. All morning we waited to hear news that the race had been cancelled, but organizers remained faithful that they could pull it off.
The first forerunners came down the course on time. It was clear at the top, but a patch of persistant fog hung over the most difficult part of the course. The first racers punched through it, fearless at about 112 kilometers per hour.
After about five racers, they held the race as more fog rolled in. And the race went on like this for rest of the day. One or two would go, then the race would stop. When the fog cleared they would send as many as they could before it came back. This made the race a tough one to watch, and no doubt a tough one to ski.
Benjamin Raich of Austria was one racer who had to wait about ten minutes before he could climb back into the starting gate. The off and on of a race like this, especially a downhill, is extremely hard for racers to deal with. You could tell that Raich was off from the moment he left the starting gate. He skied rigidly, and his skis were chopping through sections of the course he would otherwise be able to slice through. A dissapointment for him surely.
In fact most of the Austrian team had trouble today. Herman Maier was not on his game. An early mistake on one of the top jumps lead to a series of small errors throughout his run. Andreas Schifferer looked good, but his skis ran slowly across the flats.
Daron's run was by far the best of the day. He ran in a pocket of racers who had particularly good visibility. Some of his teammates at the bottom of the course said when the fog cleared the track may have glazed making it a bit faster. He blasted out of the start like a ball of fire, and skied aggresively through the top section, nailing every turn. He flew off the biggest jump in a tight, compact position, landed and quickly garbbed his tuck again. Through the splits he was ahead each time, and the crowd cheered wildly. When Daron crossed the line and saw he was in first by a reasonable margin, he raised his hands in the air looking out at the crowd soaking in the moment.
Bode two racerd after Daron. He charged out of the start too, and looked, in typical Bode fashion, like he was also on the hunt. As he skied down it looked like he was just holding it together. At times he seemed off balance, or weirdly contorted. He flew off a jump in sketchy style, landing twisted, but somehow he managed to keep it all in the fall line. He was ahead of Daron in two of the splits, but lost two tenths at the bottom and came in second. The crowd went wild again.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's giant slalom.


Post a Comment

<< Home