Daron Rahlves got hooked from behind, someone clinging to his left arm just long enough to shear his speed in the finals of skier X on Sunday.
That grab cost him any shot of defending his title at Winter X.
Stanley Hayer of Canada won the event on a day when the
Americans weren't at their best. Rahlves finished fourth and Casey
Puckett, a two-time winner in skier X, didn't make it out of
"That kind of ruins the ESPN show, doesn't it?" Hayer said,
laughing. "We are all kind of no names. This sport is deep. Anyone
can win on any given day."
Rahlves was an accomplished alpine ski racer before switching
over to skier X, an event that combines speed, jumps and guts as
skiers battle for position going 40-plus mph.
He likes to use his downhill and super-G background to his
advantage, but never got the chance Sunday. Rahlves was right with
Hayer and Hiroomi Takizawa, the silver medalist thanks to a photo
finish, when he was yanked from behind.
"That contact just blew it for me," said Rahlves, who claimed
he was slowed by a Swedish skier. "I couldn't try any last
It wasn't an ideal course for Rahlves, who prefers a hard, fast
slope to one that's covered in powder.
"I couldn't go. The brakes were on there in the powder," said
Rahlves, who made three Olympic teams before retiring from skiing
after the 2006 season. "It just wasn't working."
It was for Hayer, even if he wasn't the crowd favorite.
We are in America and Daron Rahlves is the big name here," he
said. "But he's earned it. He's a warrior. Maybe in our sport, he
gets more respect than he should."
As in, he's fair game - just like everyone else.
Hayer has a history with Rahlves, cutting him off at a race in
Sun Valley, Idaho, last season.
"He got mad at me," Hayer said.
The 35-year-old Hayer was planning on giving Rahlves a wide path
at Winter X, but then thought about the $30,000 check that goes to
He changed his mind.
"I got him out of the picture - luckily," he said.