Miller finishes fourth at Beaver Creek downhill | VailDaily.com
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Miller finishes fourth at Beaver Creek downhill

BOP DH Bode Miller DT 12-5-09
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BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – For a split second, Bode Miller was flying sideways, his body parallel to the ground, his hand on the snow and his skis airborne. A split second later, his skis dug in, he sped around the gate, and he was again attacking the course.

It was vintage Miller – skiing the course with abandon and somehow recovering from near disasters.

Miller crossed the finish line in 1 minute, 43.94 seconds, good enough for fourth place in the downhill Saturday on the Birds of Prey course on Beaver Creek Mountain.

The result was encouraging for Miller, the two-time overall World Cup champion who is trying to get back into top shape after struggling with injuries and then taking time off over the summer. The fourth-place finish Saturday was his best in almost a year.

Miller, 32, had been burning up the course until that mistake at the spot known as Pete’s Arena, posting the second-fastest time of the day from the start through that portion.

“Mistakes are acceptable when you push like I was pushing today,” Miller said. “I was trying to do a lot. I was taking a really aggressive line and not backing off anywhere. This course, if you want to win, that’s usually what you have to do. It usually comes with a couple of mistakes. Unfortunately, the mistake on the pitch was a pretty big one, and it was hard to get back in line. I lost a lot of speed and line there.”

The Franconia, N.H., native knows about success on the Beaver Creek downhill course. He has won the downhill here twice, in 2004 and 2006.

Miller said he’s skiing well and could have been on the top of the podium if he had a clean run Saturday. But he is still struggling to improve his fitness after not training over the summer.

“It’s just hard to train a lot and get the fitness moving forward while you’re racing all the time like I am,” Miller said. “But that’ll come around. I just started much later than I ever have before. The skiing is good now. … There’s no question I have the ability to win races. But little things like mistakes have always been an issue for me.”

Finding the right equipment has been troublesome this week, Miller said. He again was on a different setup Saturday, trying to adjust to the snow conditions at Beaver Creek.

The good finish is sure to heighten expectations for Miller as he heads toward the Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, in February. But as far as goals for the Games, Miller said he hasn’t thought about that yet.

“You can make something up if you want to,” he told reporters in the finish corral.

Miller led a strong American showing in the downhill. Andrew Weibrecht skied to an 11th-place finish out of the 47th starting position – another stellar race for the 23-year-old Lake Placid, N.Y., native. Weibrecht finished 19th in the super combined here Friday and had two 12th-place finishes last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

Weibrecht said Saturday’s finish, along with his other good finishes this year, will likely boost his starting position into the coveted top 30 for future races.

“It’s been my goal to move into the top 30,” Weibrecht said. “That’s basically what I’ve been working on since I starting racing World Cup two years ago. I moved in in super-G last year, and now I’m in the downhill. I think it’s going to make things a lot nicer and help me to be able to post some better results.”

American Marco Sullivan also had a good race, finishing 14th.

“I had a couple of mistakes up on the pitch, a couple of turns where I got pulled a little bit low,” Sullivan said. “But, overall, I carried my speed pretty well on the pitch. … Considering the way my week’s been going with training and stuff, I was pretty happy with my run.”

Among other Americans, Erik Fisher was 25th, Steven Nyman was 31st and Jeremy Transue was 41st. Scott Macartney did not finish.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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