Ho-hum: Miller takes training run in Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” Bode Miller isn’t a big fan of training for the downhill.
When asked Tuesday how many times he had trained downhill before last weekend’s first speed races of the season up in Lake Louise, Alberta, he plainly replied, “One day.”
“I don’t think downhill training is very useful,” said Miller, the defending overall World Cup champion after Tuesday’s first training run in Beaver Creek. “It’s impossible to mimic a race. You might as well go into a wind tunnel and just tuck for a while or ski super-G. Unless you’re going to train to prepare yourself to race a downhill, I don’t think there’s any reason to call it downhill training. I skied super-G. I got some wind in my face and got a couple of jumps, but the only time I put downhill skis on was right before Lake Louise.”
Miller didn’t seem rusty Tuesday, winning the first day of training at Birds of Prey with a time of 1 minute, 42.82 seconds.
While part of Miller’s comments about working on the downhill can be chalked up to Bode being Bode, there is also certainly something to be said for being familiar with the course.
The American has three career wins here (downhill, 2004 and 2006, and giant slalom, 2005). At the same time, Miller won two runs of training up in Lake Louise, only to take 16th in downhill and be a DNF in the super-G.
France’s David Poisson, running out of the No. 1 bib, took second in 1:43.81, 99-hundredths of second behind Miller, followed by Italy’s Warner Heel (1:43.99).
The rest of the top 10 was who’s-who of World Cup veterans. Defending Birds of Prey downhill champion Michael Walchhofer (1:44.20) of Austria slid into fourth.
“It’s not bad to come back as the winner in this hill,” Walchhofer said. “It gives me a lot of motivation, especially the course was really good today. They’ve done really good work. It’s a hard, good piste, and hopefully, we have conditions like this also on race day.”
Coming off a super-G win in Lake Louise Sunday, Austria’s Hermann Maier was in good form in fifth, tied with Switzerland’s Didier Cuche. Canada’s Erik Guay, Liechtenstein’s Marco Buechel, Norway’s Aksel Lund-Svindal and Switzerland’s Didier Defago rounded out the top 10.
Finding a line
On a positively balmy day at Beaver Creek, the goal for most skiers was getting acquainted or reacquainted with the hill.
One major theme was wind at the top of the course near The Flyway.
“I came over The Brink there and I just had a huge headwind, so it was hard for me to judge it, get my speed and rhythm,” Guay said. “That first top section was pretty bad. I was just getting rattled. I didn’t find my rhythm, any flow, anything. It seems halfway down the pitch at the super-G start, I started skiing well, started laying some arcs well.”
Guay actually was pretty consistent by the split times throughout his run, but the top section of the course was the slowest interval for eight of the top-10 racers Tuesday.
Only Heel and Maier picked up times on the flat start.
There was the usual gamesmanship in the corral after the run with athletes playing down their result.
“There’s not much to go easy on,” Miller said. “It’s a steep turny pitch, so if you want to go easy, you just end up sliding sideways a lot. I wasn’t pushing the line very much, but the turns are fairly clean. I’m not just going to slide sideways just for fun. It was pretty basic, pretty easy. I was pretty tall through a lot of it, not real aerodynamic in the middle, but it feels good. I know this hill pretty well, so there’s not really many big surprises. It’s just trying to feel the snow and feel out where I am going to move the line.”
The International Skiing Federation pushed back Tuesday’s start time from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to help Beaver Creek’s race crew clear about two feet of snow which fell during Thanksgiving weekend.
“They did an amazing job getting all that snow off the track,” American Marco Sullivan said. “I think they’ve been out there the last two days consecutively with tons of (snow) cats and working the hill. Now, it’s great. It should get better and better as the week goes on, as it gets harder.”
Today is the second day of downhill training, starting at 11 a.m. Racing starts
Thursday with the super combined.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.
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