CARRABASSETT VALLEY – There was a time that Daron Rahlves was told he shouldn’t be a downhill ski racer.

When he was younger, the California native was advised to focus on other disciplines, but it was the thrill of the downhill that continued to lure him. It was those doubters that pushed him harder.

“That motivated me even more,” said Rahlves. “It turned out that I was winning some of the best downhills in the world. That’s been the highlight – just being consistent and up there competing with the top guys and owning it up on some of those hills. Growing up, that’s the ultimate challenge in our sport – the ultimate risk, the ultimate high. The other events are fun too, but that’s the ultimate one. That’s the one I’ve been drawn to more.”

Rahlves looks back on his career with a great sense of accomplishment. He is ending his run as a member of the United State Ski Team and is leaving the World Cup circuit after this year. The three-time Olympian leaves as America’s most successful downhill and Super G racer.

“It’s just time to move on and turn to another chapter,” said Rahlves.

The 33-year old looks to do some other forms off skiing, get involved in film work, get a Rahlves Invitational started in Lake Tahoe and spend time with family.

So Rahlves is trying to enjoy what little time he has left as a competitive racer. He’ll try to defend his Super G title at the U.S. Alpine Ski Championships at Sugarloaf this weekend.

“I’m not looking to come out hard and hammer,” said Rahlves. “I’m not going to be running my normal program, to really come out and ski as fast as I can. I’ve been pulling through all year trying to do that. So I’m just trying to get through the finals with my last little bit of strength.

“It would be nice to come away with a nationals win, but it’s more about skiing well and showing these guys what it’s like. Hopefully, they can start coming up through the system and start skiing well.”

Rahlves had the best practice time among the men Wednesday. After a long World Cup season and the Olympics, he’s glad for the chance to relax and enjoy the environment.

“We just finished up our World Cup final last week,” said Rahlves. “That’s really the last highlight or little bit of the season that you really focus on and are serious about. When I first started, (Nationals) was serious. Now, it’s like skiing with the younger guys and skiing well. We’re just trying to relax and have fun. We’re kicking back a bit and hopefully, we’ll put some good runs down.”

Rahlves last World Cup race was a sixth-place finish in the giant slalom in Sweden earlier this month.

“I’m still having a good time,” he said. “It hasn’t really sunk in maybe. I don’t really dwell on those things. I’m just trying to have as much fun and take in every moment I can and then move on.”

Rahlves had two downhill wins on the World Cup circuit this year, giving him eight overall to go with three Super G wins. He finished 10th in the downhill at the Olympics and ninth in the Super G.

He said he’s been on the road ever since he was 16 and eventually that takes its toll. The traveling and the focus it takes to be a World Cup racer is the ultimate challenge as a skier but also very draining.

“It just makes it tougher every year,” he said. “For me, I’m at a time in my life where I don’t want that to rub off the wrong way on the younger kids because it’s an incredible experience. The races you run in Europe are incredible. That’s the pinnacle of the sport – the World Cup. It’s pretty cool. I love the experience.”

So Rahlves is excited about moving forward and seeing what new challenges are in store.

“I’ve had a great time doing what I’m doing,” he said. “I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’ve had no regrets. I’ve had great experiences and an incredible life, that’s for sure.”

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