Miller 4th in Val d’Isere
VAL D’ISERE, France – World Cup leader Bode Miller was off the podium for the first time in a speed race this season Saturday but fattened his points in a downhill won by Austrian Werner Franz. Daron Rahlves tied for seventh in the 30-degree weather while Hermann Maier of Austria was 26th.Miller’s performance was the best by an American on the Oreiller-Killy course since A.J. Kitt won the opening downhill of the 1992 Olympic season.
Franz, skiing second in the sunny, 30-degree weather, was timed in 1 minute, 57.51 seconds for the second World Cup victory of his career, edging Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein by 0.07 seconds.Miller, running 23rd after winning the first two downhills of the season – at Lake Louise, Alberta, and a week ago at the Birds of Prey in Beaver Creek – finished fourth in 1:58.09. Rahlves tied Frenchman Antoine Deneriaz (1:58.27) with J.J. Johnson 37th and Scott Macartney 46th.”Personal best for Bode and ‘D’ in Val d’Isere, so that’s a big plus on this hill,” said head coach Phil McNichol. “They did a good job … a few mistakes here and there, but they did a good job.”Daron thought he skied well and he was happy with his performance, and I’d agree. Bode was fast in training (Friday) but made a little mistake at the bottom; he didn’t think it cost that much, but we’ll have to go to the replay. It may have cost him the podium, but it’s great to see him have a mistake and still be fourth.
“Overall, though, after three weekends of downhills, it was a good day for the guys,” McNichol said. “In general, I’m happy. Now we’re looking for a good race in giant slalom; Daron’s chomping to get it done, and the guys are ready.” The U.S. Ski Team will start six men Sunday in GS: Miller, Rahlves, Dane Spencer, Erik Schlopy, Jimmy Cochran and Aspen’s Jake Zamansky. After eight races, Miller – who has won four times – has 530 points and is first overall and in the downhill standings. Austrian Michael Walchhofer, third in all three DHs, is runner-up overall and in the downhill standings. Maier dropped to third overall while Rahlves is third in DH and fifth overall.
After today’s GS, the men run slalom Monday night in Sestriere, Italy, and then head to Val Gardena, Italy, for the traditional downhill and super G.In a related development, McNichol said Bryon Friedman, who was seventh behind Miller and Rahlves one-two in a historic DH finish Dec. 3 in Beaver Creek, was expected to leave a Grenoble hospital Sunday after suffering an infection in his right leg, apparently stemming from a crash in training at Lake Louise. Antibiotics and three days in the hospital appeared to be solving the problem, the coach said.Vail, Colorado
Organizer Rob Simon: It’s such a steep and notorious climb, you’re hitting grades of up to 14 percent, so that’s going to be an intense climb that’s going to …