St. Anton, Austria, Jan. 30, 2001--Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) opened the men's schedule at the 2001 World Championships Tuesday by winning the super G by .08 over Austrian Stephan Eberharter with Hermann Maier third.
ESPN2 will broadcast coverage of the race at 5:30 p.m. EST today with a repeat at midnight EST on ESPN.
Rahlves, skiing 11th, was timed in 1:21.46 with 1:21.54 for Eberharter. Maier finished in 1:21.69 with Norwegian Lasse Kjus fourth(1:21.73) and Didier Cuche of Switzerland fifth (1:21.95). Maier and Kjus tied for SG gold at Vail '99, the last alpine championshipswhile Eberharter was the '91 super G champion in another championships held in Austria (Saalbach).
In collecting the first World Championships gold medal by a U.S. man since Steve Mahre won the giant slalom - also in Austria(Schladming) in 1982, the 27-year-old Rahlves led from top to bottom. It also is the first World Championships super G medal won byan American, male or female (although Diann Roffe-Steinrotter won the Olympic SG gold medal in '94, a month before she retired, andPicabo Street was SG gold medalist in '98 in Nagano).
"I skied really well up top, but I made a mistake in the middle," he said, holding tightly to his gold-medal, Atomic skis, "but I keptfighting. I didn't panic...I kept puttin' 'em down the hill. I was aggressive...
"We've trained hard. We have a great organization - the coaches, the service techs, the support - and this is the reward for everythingwe've been doing," Rahlves said.
U.S. Head Coach Bill Egan said, "You could hear the crowd deflating as Daron came down the hil. With each split, every intermediatetime, they let out this huge sigh.
"What a wonderful day with perfect conditions," Egan said. "It was snowing lightly for everyone, the whole time, and it got moredifficult for the guys at the back, but all the guys in contention had it perfect."
He didn't feel good when he got up, the Green Mountain Valley School (Vt.) grad said, "but I got things rolling in the start and I'm rollingnow."
The key thing, he told reporters in the finish, "was to keep pushing, keep fighting...and I had to let my skis run..."
As he did last March when he took some time at home in the Lake Tahoe area and relaxed with friends, and learned to enjoy skiing again- and then won back-to-back World Cup downhills in Norway, Rahlves - bummed about his slow start on this season's World Cupschedule - took a break over the holidays with friends. "I decided to take a fresh start," he said.
His re-start led to a podium in the Hahnenkamm downhill two weeks ago...and a gold medal Tuesday. "This is a big victory for me...well,for anybody, it's big," he said.
Casey Puckett (Aspen, CO) was 31st in 1:24.98 while Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) and Chad Fleischer (Vail, CO) were among the 11skiers who were DNFs.
"I think, frankly, they got a little caught-up in knowing Daron had the gold...that he was first," Egan said. "Daron's such a very specialguy, always so gracious in defeat, so humble when he does well. This is a popular win."
The next men's race at the World Championships is the downhill on Saturday.
2001 WORLD ALPINE SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS
St. Anton, AUT - Jan. 30
Men's Super G
1. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, Calif., 1:21.46
2. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 1:21.54
3. Hermann Maier, Austria, 1:21.69
4. Lasse Kjus, Norway, 1:21.73
5. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 1:21.95
31. Casey Puckett, Aspen, Colo., 1:24.98
Did not finish: Chad Fleischer, Vail, Colo., and Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H.