The two American skicross Olympians are trying to recover from significant injuries last month, and with the clock about to run out, Rahlves and Puckett say they'll be ready for Sunday's competition at the Vancouver Games.
"Every hour, every day counts as far as getting ready before the 21st. I'm still going, 'You know what, we still have three days left,"' Puckett said Thursday. "When you're motivated to get healthy, it's really impressive, when you do everything you can, how quickly you can come back."
The 37-year-old Puckett dislocated his shoulder during a race last month, then landed awkwardly during a run last month, which caused further damage. He said his shoulder still hurts at times, but he's making progress, particularly in his ability to start races.
Rahlves said he is about "88 percent" after dislocating his right hip last month in a wreck at the Winter X Games.
"It's slowly building," the 36-year-old Rahlves said in a news conference. "I literally got on skis on Sunday. I was doing snowplow drills, edging drills I did when I was a little kid. I put my hip in every position I could possibly get it in a controlled environment. ... I'm not going to have any physical limitations on Sunday."
Former Olympians in Alpine skiing, Rahlves and Puckett are both still in search of a first Olympic medal. Rahlves finished ninth in skicross at the world championship last year, and Puckett was fifth.
They both almost missed these Olympics after hurting themselves with so little time before the games, but hours of physical therapy and acupuncture have helped them come back.
"I feel good enough now just to go up tomorrow and start down the track going smooth and build the speed up right away," Rahlves said.
Skicross is making its Olympic debut, added after the wildly successful debut of snowboardcross at the 2006 Turin Games. Athletes compete in groups of four, racing through an obstacle course of sorts down the mountain, navigating a series of turns and jumps as they go. The fastest one down the mountain wins.
"A funny analogy: I was talking to somebody about their perspective," Rahlves said. "Almost like a cabbie in New York trying to race through traffic and not crash. That's kind of what we're trying to do out there."
Puckett said he still has "a shot" in Sunday's race, and that the success of other Americans at these Olympics is giving he and Rahlves an emotional boost.
"Daron and I have just pretty much seen the inside of physical therapy rooms for the last month," he said. "I've been so focused on just getting my shoulder better. Now that I'm at the Olympics and watching all these guys win their gold medals and their silver medals and their bronze medals, the excitement continues to build."