DARON RAHLVES ON STANDUP PADDLING AS ULTIMATE CROSS TRAINING
Daron Rahlves, the most decorated American Downhill and Super G skier in history has picked up yet another sport, standup paddling. The 2001 Super G World Champ and 2008 ESPN Winter X Games Skier Cross Gold Medalist also has 12 World Cup race wins under his belt, 28 World Cup podiums, 7 US National Titles and unknown to most, he was also the 1993 Expert World Jet Ski Champion.
Rahlves got on his first Tahoe SUP this past summer on Lake Tahoe while rehabbing his hip from surgery. It didn't take long before his competitive nature led the Red Bull athlete to jump into a few races and quickly added SUP as a regular part of his training regimen.
We fired a few questions at the legend to find out what’sup with the appeal of the sport as a cross training tool and a way to Explore and Discover in your own backyard.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO SUP?
I got interested in SUP after hip surgery this summer as it was a perfect exercise for me with zero impact and a bonus of being outdoors to build up my strength. At first I purely thought of it as rehab, but that changed.
Sometimes I’m into going for intense paddles on a straight heading and getting into a rhythm, but most of the time I like to go into coves or inlets and look for fish, see a bald eagle swoop down for a snack or enjoy the scenery and connection of being outdoors. It didn’t take long to get hooked when I felt the glide of my board on smooth glass and the challenge for balance battling rough water on storm days. I got in a fair amount of early sessions and that’s a great way to start the day.
Getting on the ocean in San Diego and Baja is cool too. I’ve been out and seen dolphins cruising by and taken my kids to the kelp beds and reefs looking at fish and exploring. So much to see standing on water.
I needed to build strength in my legs, hips and core. Keeping the balance on the board and making speed with strong paddling was a great combo at working the small muscles as it’s a great simple proprioception exercise that can be done while having fun outside.
General strength gains in hips, legs and core from SUP, my endurance and being challenged in an athletic way is always a benefit.
Do you think SUP would help with other injuries?
Oh yeah head to toe because of the low impact and complex movements.
Has SUP given you another perspective on Lake Tahoe?
Like how big Lake Tahoe is! I’ve been in the middle of the lake by myself standing on a SUP looking around and it’s huge. That was an awesome moment taking it all in. My favorite part of paddling on Tahoe is going along the shore on the East and West side. It’s cool to explore the amazing coast line and look down into the crystal clear water.
How was testing out the race scene?
Crazy! I had no idea there were so many people into racing SUP. I like competition and there is some good SUP chaos off the beach during the mass starts. And I was blown away at how strong the depth is and how in shape everyone is. I pushed as hard as I could and got smoked. It feels good afterwards to push yourself hard and battle. It’s also a very cool family sport where kids paddle with friends, bigger kids, parents and grandparents. I’m definitely going to hit a few SUP events again next summer.
Would other athletes enjoy the SUP racing community?
I’d say yes, especially skiers and snowboarders. We love being outside, summer is not complete without water time and it can get you in gnarly shape. I was blown away at how cooked my legs were after a windy paddle on Tahoe this summer. Going up wind was tough then down wind super fun, it was one of the best leg workouts I’ve had.