Mon, Jan 16, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Rahlves wins third downhill race

WORLD CUP SKIING After feeling being left out of ski legend Bernhard Russi's list of favorite active racers, Daron Rahlves set out to prove that he's also a force

AP , WENGEN, SWITZERLAND

Daron Rahlves of the US takes a jump on his way to winning a World Cup downhill event in Wengen, Switzerland, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Daron Rahlves of the US collected his third World Cup downhill victory of the season, winning on the Lauberhorn course Saturday.

Rahlves, the winner at Beaver Creek and Bormio earlier this season, needed 2 minutes, 30.54 seconds to cover the 4,480m course, the longest race on the World cup circuit.

Austria's Michael Walchhofer, the reigning World Cup downhill champion, was runner up, 0.40 seconds behind. Teammate and Olympic downhill champion Fritz Strobl was third, trailing by 1.06.

Rahlves felt provoked after being snubbed as a favorite in the local Swiss papers.

"I read that ski legend Bernhard Russi had picked his six favorites: Walchhofer, Strobl, Marco [Buechel], Bode [Miller], Bruno Kernen and Hermann Maier. I wasn't even mentioned," Rahlves said. "Seriously, it gave me more motivation. I want to be known as a contender."

Rahlves was the first American to win on the 76-year-old Lauberhorn since Kyle Rasmussen in 1995.

Olympic champion Bill Johnson is the only other US skier to win a downhill at Wengen.

Double Olympic champion Hermann Maier was fourth Saturday in 2:31.83, for his best result in the discipline since the season-opening downhill in Lake Louise, Canada. Maier, who had bib number 26, said it was a disadvantage to start late as the course got choppy.

Defending overall World Cup champion Bode Miller finished 11th, 2.41 off the pace after a couple of mistakes.

Janica Kostelic could walk away with three gold medals again at the upcoming Olympics -- if her recent World Cup form is anything to go by.

The Croat claimed her first World Cup downhill victory on Saturday. Three weeks ago, she broke through for her maiden giant slalom win.

She has won those events at the Olympics or worlds, but never before on skiing's regular circuit.

Nonetheless, Kostelic blots out thoughts of another triple gold performance -- like the ones at the Salt Lake City Olympics or last year's world championships.

"I really don't think about the Olympics, unless someone asks me. I try to concentrate on the [World Cup] races -- they are the best preparation," Kostelic said.

However, the 24-year-old Croat admitted two days ago she can't escape the expectations. Thoughts of the Turin games, starting Feb. 10, do creep into her head.

Kostelic clocked 1 minute, 37.96 seconds in winning her first downhill and 23rd World Cup race.

She finished .17 seconds ahead of Sweden's Nike Bent, who was comfortably ahead until caught by the Croat. Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister was third in 1:38.53.

Outside of her gold at the worlds in Bormio, Italy, Kostelic's best downhills had been two second placings in the World Cup last season.

"It's not the happiest day of my career, but one of the happiest," Kostelic said. "For a Croatian like me, we don't have any place to train downhill. It's not surprising I win slalom, but not downhill."

She picked up her first World Cup giant slalom victory at Spindleruv Myln in the Czech Republic. Now she hopes for a third breakthrough -- winning her first super-G race ever.

Tobias Angerer of Germany and Katerina Neumannova of the Czech Republic won mass start World Cup races Saturday, showing an impressive form one month ahead of the Olympic Games in Turin.

World Cup leader Angerer secured his fourth win of the season, edging Russian Evgenji Dementiev and Italy's Pietro Piller Cottrer in a three-way sprint to the finish line in the men's 30km freestyle race.

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