On Sunday, Rahlves attacked Grizzly at a perilous speed. He took a high, tight line off the dangerous Flintlock Jump and sailed more than 150 feet, wheeling his arms to regain control. The big air made for terrific visuals but cost Rahlves his line on the ensuing turns in Bear Trap, and he never found his rhythm. When his interval times were posted on the scoreboard in the finish area, a hungry U.S. crowd groaned. "Big disappointment," said Rahlves after finishing 16th. "I feel as if I'm in a fog." Like Eberharter, he returns this Saturday in the Super G, a blessed second chance.
Strobl needs none. A member of the Austrian team for 12 years, he has won six World Cup downhills and two Super Gs, but in two world championships and one Olympics (1998), he had never finished higher than fourth. "I've trained with Fritz for many years, and I know what he can do, but he has never won the top races," said Greber after Sunday's race. "For him to do this now, it makes him the best Olympic champion I can name."
In a noisy, flamboyant sport, Strobl is a quiet soul who had brought his wife, Bettina, and four-year-old son, Mario, to Germany for a late-season Super G, won the race and thanked his son for the luck. Now Strobl will be praised as an Olympic gold medalist, a much brighter light. Outside the Snowbasin stadium, names were dropped. Klammer. Killy. Zurbriggen. Strobl waved them away. "Not now," he said. "I need a day, a night, to think."
He had longer than that. Gold medal buzz never dies.