Garmisch, Germany (Feb. 23) USST -- Daron Rahlves was the lone bright spot for the U.S. Ski Team again Sunday, finishing eighth in the World Cup super G in Garmisch. Liechtenstein's Marco Buechel picked up the win over Stephan Eberharter of Austria. Buechel won in 1:16.13, a .13 margin over Eberharter, who gained more ground in the overall World Cup lead. Rahlves was .49 back.
Buechel's win put him just 40 points behind Swiss Didier Cuche, who was 14th, in the World Cup super G battle, setting the stage for a showdown in Lillehammer in mid-March for the title. Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) remains the top U.S. skier in super G, standing eighth. Eberharter padded his lead over Miller in the overall, now at 185 points going into two weekends of GS/slalom in Korea and Japan, where Miller should have the edge. Miller has 135 points on third place Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who gained ground with his seventh place finish Sunday.
Rahlves top-10 was his best super G World Cup since finishing fourth in Kitzbuehel a year ago. "Unfortuntatly eighth place today is my best finish in super G this year," said Rahlves. "It's not where I've been hoping to get, especially here at Garmisch. I thought my skiing was right on. This could have been a really good day for me but I blew a lot of speed at the top and was seven tenths back after that. I made up a lot of time after that on the bottom. Super G every single race this whole season has been like that -- I've been fast and then make a major mistake and it puts me way out.
"This is the best finish this season and that's pretty pathetic," he added. "I'm going to shoot for the win in Norway and end the season off strong. I know I can do it."
It was another tough day for the USA, with Rahlves the only point scorer. Thomas Vonn (Newburgh, NY), Jake Fiala (Breckenridge, CO), and Scott Macartney (Redmond, WA) were all off the pace. Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) and Miller did not finish.
With his sixth downhill podium and best super G of the season, Rahlves takes some good feelings home from Garmisch. "I will take away a lot of confidence and a good feeling and ready to go at it in Norway."
Monday will be homecoming for Rahlves -- really the first honest break from training and racing since early October, as he heads home to Sugar Bowl. "It's going to be nice to go home and get a break -- go to Sugar Bowl and do some skiing and some training and get myself ready for the last push in Norway.
"I think maybe I'll get on the dirt bike and totally get away from everything. I totally need that to get fresh. This last week I went to Kitzbuehel and went powder skiing. I came here and was having fun; just going out for the feeling -- not getting all caught up and thinking about racing all the time. It's good to go home and get refreshed. It's good therapy for me."
The men's speed squad now gets a break before the World Cup Finals, with technical skiers heading to Korea and Japan for two weekends of GS and slalom.
FIS ALPINE WORLD CUP RESULTS
Men's Super G
Feb. 23, 2003
1. Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein, 1:16.13
2. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 1:16.26
3. Tobias Gruenenfelder, Switzerland, 1:16.33
4. Fritz Strobl, Austria, 1:16.43
5. Pierre-Emmanuel Dalcin, France, 1:16.45
8. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, CA, 1:16.45
45. Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, NY, 1:19.21
49. Jake Fiala, Breckenridge, CO, 1:19.47
Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) and Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) did not finish.