Miller is eighth again but regains overall World Cup lead |

Miller is eighth again but regains overall World Cup lead

Andrew Dampf

VAL GARDENA, Italy – Bode Miller is in good company. He and a lot of other top skiers are not ruling the mountains the way they did last season.On Saturday, Miller finished eighth in a World Cup downhill won by Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein amid snowdrifts and strong wind.Buechel won a World Cup downhill for the first time, finishing in 1 minute, 27.99 seconds. Austria’s Michael Walchhofer was 0.02 seconds behind and Canada’s Erik Guay was third, following his runner-up finish in Friday’s super-G.Miller, also eighth in the super-G, regained the lead in the overall standings, although he doesn’t attach too much importance to that at this stage.”The overall lasts a long time,” said Miller, the defending overall champ. “People who look good now, a lot of times aren’t the guys who are there at the end.”The New Hampshire skier leads Austria’s Michael Walchhofer by 22 points in the overall, with Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal another three points back in third. Miller held a 379-point lead on Hermann Maier at this point last season. Miller, Maier and Walchhofer also dominated the speed disciplines.This season there has been a different winner in each of the seven downhill and super-G races. Walchhofer said ski manufacturers had evened out the competition, with the sport no longer dominated by one company.”Myself, Hermann and Bode are not dominating like we did last year,” Walchhofer said.Conditions also have played a major role. Saturday’s race was delayed 75 minutes and the Saslong course was shortened because of low visibility.”You go up and you ski and a lot of times other things decided where you finish,” Miller said, rejecting speculation he was suffering more than normal from pain in his chronically injured left knee.”No, I feel good,” he said.Walchhofer said Miller looked more determined than in the super-G.”He really looked like he was going for it,” the Austrian said. “Yesterday maybe he didn’t have the best luck with his start position but today he was really in there. Maybe he’s not at his complete best but he will get there.”Miller will be among the favorites as the World Cup circuit crosses the Gardena pass for Sunday’s giant slalom in Alta Badia, where Miller won in 2002.”It is a good course for me, it’s tough,” Miller said. “If the weather is like this it’s really tough. You need good visibility on that hill, it’s so steep you can’t see anything anyway. Hopefully we’ll get better conditions.”Buechel prevailed despite the rough conditions that hampered a number of skiers.”I had good skis, the wind was in my favor and I skied very good,” Buechel said. “But I think winning by two-hundredths of a second is all about luck.”This was the second World Cup win of Buechel’s career following a super-G victory at Garmisch, Germany, in 2003. He also won a silver medal in giant slalom at the 1999 world championships.”Liechtenstein has a long tradition in skiing,” he said.Countryman Markus Foser won the downhill on this course in 1993.Italy’s Kristian Ghedina, who led both training sessions but usually struggles in bad conditions, placed fourth.”I might shed some tears, because I feel really close to this course,” said Ghedina, who shares the Saslong record of four victories with Austrian great Franz Klammer and plans to retire at the end of this season. “Mostly though, I’m content, the Saslong has really done a lot for my career.”Reigning Olympic downhill champion Fritz Strobl finished fifth to keep his lead atop the downhill standings.Vail, Colorado

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