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Rahlves Hopes for Olympic Gold in Men's Skiing


He is a three-time medalist at the World Alpine Ski championships. He has beaten the vaunted Austrians on their own course at Kitzbuehel, but Olympic success has eluded him. American skier Daron Rahlves aims to change that in Turin this month.

Log on to Daron Rahlves' Internet site and you will learn that the song he most listens to is Pennywise's "Rise Up."

PENNYWISE: "Well it's up to you. What you really want to do, take time - to find a way. Focus on your vision. You're on a secret mission. Ignore what the masses say."

Daron Rahlves has embraced that philosophy on the ski slopes, winning 11 World Cup races in his career, including three this season. He is the most-successful U.S. speed skier, and the Walnut Creek, California native seems to have been born to ski at high speed.

Rahlves started skiing at age three, in Lake Tahoe, California. Eventually he went to Vermont's Green Mountain Valley School where he started getting noticed.

Daron decided to focus on ski racing in 1993 after, on water, he had won the world jet-ski championship. His first U.S. title was in the giant slalom, and he moved onto the World Cup circuit in both giant slalom and super giant slalom, now called super-G.

His first Olympic appearance was in 1998, in Nagano, Japan, where he finished seventh in the super-G and 20th in the slalom. Four years ago in Salt Lake City, Rahlves was eighth in the super-G and 16th in the downhill. But he says he aims to change his Olympic record in Turin.

"You know I don't want to go there [Turin] just to be part of the team," he said. "It is fun, it is great to be representing the United States and the U.S. ski team and my sponsors and myself. But I am going there for one reason and that is to put down some impressive runs and that is it. And hopefully come out with three medals in three events."

Daron Rahlves is often overshadowed by his more talkative teammate, reigning World Cup champion Bode Miller. At the 2005 World Championships in Bormio, Italy, Miller took the gold in the downhill while Rahlves finished second. It was the first time Americans had taken the top two places at a World Alpine championship in any event. Rahlves took bronze in the giant slalom that year as well.

But while Miller is not afraid of the spotlight, Rahlves prefers relaxing in a customized bus outfitted by one of his corporate sponsors. The American skier uses the bus on the World Cup circuit, and says he plans to have the bus at the Olympics.

"It is not the easiest life to live, and I really have no days to come home, so last year I went that route and I got some space there in Sestriere [Italy]," he explained. "Which is pretty lucky, because there is not that much space there as it is. And to have like a 40-foot [14-meter] long bus parked up there and to have my own little getaway is pretty cool."

When he is not blasting down the slopes on the World Cup circuit, or the Olympics, Daron Rahlves enjoys riding motorcycles, water skiing and mountain biking. He also enjoys watching surfing movies and has surfed some of the big waves off his native California.

Rahlves is also devoted to a cross-training regimen that features a variety of sports, not just skiing. He says his training methods are very different from the methods European teams, like Austria, use.

"They are so by-the-book sometimes and just, almost like robots sometimes," he said. "You know they just train for - those are just kind of like the European ski racers. And when people think about ski racing, they think about that. And I think Americans as a team have kind of changed that around a little bit and brought new perspectives to ski racing. So I think there are two different sides to the quintessential ski racer."

It has been 12 years since an American skier took Olympic gold in the men's downhill or super-giant slalom. This year's U.S. team, led by Daron Rahlves and Bode Miller, is hoping to change that statistic.

U.S. Alpine ski team director Jesse Hunt has said he hopes the team brings home eight medals from Turin. Daron Rahlves hopes that at least one of those will be around his neck later this month.

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