Miller falters again
ARE, Sweden – Bode Miller is on the verge of being shut out for the second straight year at a major championship.Miller hit a gate with his head during an error-filled second run on new skis in the giant slalom at the world championships Wednesday, finishing 15th in a race won by Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal. Ted Ligety was fourth, but the American men still lack a medal with the championships drawing near a close.Miller, one of the top skiers on the World Cup circuit, came into the championships as a medal contender in several events. The same thing happened at the 2006 Torino Olympics, where he was favored in several events but went home empty handed.The only individual event left on the men’s schedule is the slalom, Miller’s weakest event in recent years. He has completed only one slalom in the last 13 months, and that came when he finished last in Schladming, Austria, in the final race before these world championships.
Miller, the 2003 world champion in GS, was sixth after Wednesday’s opening leg. He had an adventurous second trip down the slope, though, head-butting a gate midway through his run and committing several more errors before standing up and slowing as he crossed the finish line.”We had some good stuff going on out there and we got really close, but we fell a little short,” said U.S. men’s head coach Phil McNichol. “Bode had a bunch of mistakes on that second run and you just can’t let down at all. You have to be in full-on attack mode, right to the bottom.”Miller left the finish area without speaking to reporters. He hasn’t won a major championship race since he took both the super-giant slalom and downhill titles at the last worlds in Bormio, Italy, two years ago.Miller’s best result through four events at these championships is sixth in combined, after leading the downhill portion of that event. At last year’s Turin Olympics, his best result was fifth in downhill.
New skisFor the giant slalom, Miller used skis he had never raced on before.”He had only trained on them in October,” said Marc Habermann, Miller’s spokesman. “It’s definitely unusual, especially for world championships, but that’s Bode. He said the skis were actually pretty good. It just took him a few gates to get used to them.”Ligety’s fourth-place finish Wednesday was the best result by an American man at these championships. He missed a medal by 0.07 seconds.
“I came down and I thought that was going to be enough for third place. I was super psyched,” said Ligety, the Olympic champion in the combined event. “It’s bittersweet for sure.”Ligety had a medal within grasp until first-run leader Daniel Albrecht, the last skier down in the second leg, finished second, bumping the American to fourth place. Albrecht’s Swiss teammate, Didier Cuche, was third.Svindal’s win in 2 minutes, 19.64 seconds was his second straight triumph here after taking the downhill title Sunday. The overall World Cup leader moved up from fourth after the opening leg.While the men are 0-for-Are, Lindsey Kildow and Julia Mancuso have saved face for the U.S. squad with three silver medals at these world championships.”The women are definitely carrying the team,” Ligety said. “Those two girls have been doing awesome and it’s good to see that. Too bad Bode and I haven’t come through yet.”