Snowbasin, Utah, Feb. 22, 2001--The Chevy Truck Grizzly Downnhill World Cup got underway Wednesday with the first training run of the week on the 2002 Olympic course.
The training start was delayed 30 minutes to 11:30 a.m. until the clouds and fog that hung over the course lifted. The sun broke through and temperatures were quite warm - good for the spectators but not as good for the course as recent snowfall, coupled with the warm air, made conditions soft for the racers.
Austrians filled the top three spots in training as Stefan Eberharter was first in 1:42.69 and teammates Hermann Maier and Josef Strobl tied for second in 1:43.93. Switzerland's Silvano Beltrametti was fourth in 1:45.28 and NorwegianLasse Kjus rounded out the top five, recording a 1:44.43.
The top American finisher was newly crowned World Champion Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) in 11th position with a 1:45.81.Rahlves won the super G at the FIS World Championships Jan. 30 in St. Anton, Austria, just ten days after taking third in theHahnenkamm downhill at Kitzbuehel, Austria.
Marco Sullivan (Tahoe City, CA) posted an impressive run out of the 34th start spot, finishing as the second-fastest American in14th place with a 1:46.09. Sullivan was third in a Chevy Truck Super Series downhill on the course Feb. 9.
Unlike Sullivan, many of the racers had never set a ski on the course prior to Wednesday. It was the first time in history the Grizzlydownhill has been run - start to finish - on the World Cup tour. It features super steep start and finish pitches with several big airsections.
Rahlves and teammate Chad Fleischer (Vail, CO), who finished 31st Wednesday, got a taste of the Grizzly this past Septemberas they hiked the course prior to any snowfall.
"I just have to sink my teeth into it (the course)," said Fleischer. "I have to take risks and go for it - see what I can get away with. Ijust gotta dig deep, go for it and have fun."
"Like Chad said, you gotta really try to go after it," said Rahlves, the January USOC Athlete of the Month. "Today, I tried to pushmyself a lot at the top and had some problems there. You have to be smart. You can get way behind very quickly and lose a lot oftime."
A second training run will take place Thursday before the inaugural Chevy Truck Grizzly Downhill race gets underway Friday witha 10:00 a.m. MST start. A second downhill is on tap Saturday with a super G on Sunday.
Chevy Truck Grizzly Downhill World Cup
February 21, 2001
Men's Training #1
1. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 1:42.69
T2. Hermann Maier, Austria, 1:43.93
T2. Josef Strobl, Austria, 1:43.93
4. Silvano Beltrametti, Switzerland, 1:44.25
5. Lasse Kjus, Norway, 1:44.43
6. Fritz Strobl, Austria, 1:44.51
7. Hannes Trinkl, Austria, 1:44.70
8. Alessandro Fattori, Italy, 1:44.90
9. Paul Accola, Canada, 1:45.28
10. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 1:45.58
11. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, CA, 1:45.81
14. Marco Sullivan, Tahoe City, CA, 1:46.09
28. Jakub Fiala, Frisco, CO, 1:47.62
31. Chad Fleischer, Vail, CO, 1:47.90
45. Scott Macartney, Redmond, WA, 1:49.04
46. Chris Puckett, Boulder, CO, 1:49.10