Miller fails to defend combined title after losing ski in downhill
BORMIO, Italy – Austria’s Benjamin Raich won the combined at the world championships Thursday for his first major title, and defending champion Bode Miller was eliminated after losing a ski during the downhill portion of the grueling event.Raich, the bronze medalist in Saturday’s super giant slalom, was fifth after the opening downhill and took the lead with the fastest time in the first of two slalom runs. He concluded the daylong event by coasting to victory with the seventh-fastest time in the final slalom leg, held under the lights.”It was a great day for me,” Raich said. “I made a good downhill run and also had decent slalom runs.
Raich’s total combined time on the Stelvio course was 3 minutes, 19.10 seconds. Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal earned the silver medal, 0.91 seconds behind, and Italy’s Giorgio Rocca won the bronze, 0.98 back. Austria’s Michael Walchhofer, the leader after the downhill, was fourth.Svindal and Rocca had to wait a few minutes to learn where they finished while officials examined tape. They eventually ruled that Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway straddled a gate midway through his final run. Aamodt was second until being disqualified.”I wasn’t sure if I straddled, I couldn’t tell, that’s why I continued,” Aamodt said.Raich, a winner of 15 races in his World Cup career, won the bronze medal in the combined at the 2002 Olympics and captured the only World Cup combined race this season in Wengen, Switzerland. He entered the combined as a big favorite alongside Miller, the only skier he trails in the overall World Cup standings.
“This year has been very good for me,” Raich said. “I’m in great shape,” Raich said.Miller’s ski loosened just after he landed a short jump on the top part of the course. To the delight of the fans, the American completed most of the course on one ski, dropping into the tuck position on occasion. He eventually fell to the snow in exhaustion shortly before the finish.”I felt fine,” Miller said. “There was nothing I could do. The binding was fine.”Miller, the winner of the opening super-G, captured the gold medal in the combined at the 2003 worlds in St. Moritz, Switzerland He is one of the few skiers who plans to enter all six events at the worlds.
Rocca’s bronze gave host Italy its second medal of the championships after Lucia Recchia won the silver in the women’s super-G.”It was a good day, not only for me, but also for the fans,” said Rocca, who is from nearby Livigno. He will also be a favorite in the slalom.Vail, Colorado