Bode Miller gets first podium finish in slalom since 2004
Vail CO, Colorado
LEVI, Finland ” Bode Miller hadn’t stepped on the podium after a World Cup slalom event since winning in 2004.
On Sunday, Miller was edged by Jean-Baptiste Grange of France in the slalom opener by 0.79 seconds, finishing second in 1 minute, 45.28 seconds on Levi’s Black Course north of the Arctic Circle.
Miller used an aggressive second run to post his best slalom finish since a victory four years ago in Sestriere, Italy.
“It’s been a while, but it’s been a lot of times when I felt good and comfortable but couldn’t put it together in a race,” Miller said. “So it was important today for me to get to the finish line.”
Miller nearly pulled off an American double on the weekend. Lindsey Vonn won the World Cup slalom on Saturday, her first victory in the event.
The Frenchman, who led Ted Ligety of the United States by 0.25 and Miller by 0.26 after the first run, had a two-run total of 1:44.49. Mario Matt of Austria finished third.
“To make it to the finish and still get 80 points out of the day is a huge success for me,” said Miller, the defending World Cup overall champion. “I don’t think I could have matched Jean-Baptiste.”
Ligety, the defending giant slalom champion, made a big mistake about halfway down the mountain and wound up last, more than six seconds behind Grange.
Grange captured his fourth career slalom victory, after winning three races last season and finishing runner-up in the slalom standings.
“It was a great result,” Grange said. “I worked hard this summer in slalom. Now I’m feeling good on my skis and I’m very confident for the future. The course was very difficult. The second run was very tough.”
Grange took the overall lead with 122 points after two races, and Miller follows with 106.
Miller wasn’t optimistic of his chances early in the day.
“When I watched the first seven guys in the first run, it looked in my head like there’s no way I that could ski that well,” he said. “I had no big mistakes (in the first run), I wasn’t really going crazy. I wasn’t going 100 percent. But I was pushing hard. To be that close helped my confidence.”
Benjamin Raich, a gate specialist from Austria who was runner-up behind Miller in the overall standings last year, missed a gate early in the second run and was disqualified. Raich was fourth after the opening run.