Miller finally wins in Norway |

Miller finally wins in Norway

Stephan Nasstrom
AP Sports Writer
Vail, CO Colorado
Bode Miller of the United States reacts after finishing an alpine ski World Cup Men's Downhill race, in Kvitfjell, Norway, Saturday, March 1, 2008. Miller won the race. (AP Photo/Knut Falch, Scanpix) ** NORWAY OUT **

KVITFJELL, Norway ” Finally, Bode Miller won in Norway.

He skied a nearly flawless run Saturday to capture a World Cup downhill on Kvitfjell’s Olympic course. Miller finished 0.40 seconds ahead of Didier Cuche of Switzerland and increased his lead in the overall standings.

“It was good. I really pushed it hard,” said Miller, who covered the 1.9-mile course in 1 minute, 46.16 seconds.

Werner Heel of Italy was third a day after he edged Miller to win a downhill for his first World Cup victory.

This was Miller’s third downhill win of the season and the 31st World Cup victory of his career ” way behind Ingemar Stenmark’s record total of 85.

Miller became the fourth American winner at Kvitfjell since Tommy Moe won gold at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics. Kyle Rasmussen won a World Cup downhill and finished third in a super-G in 1995. Daron Rahlves won back-to-back downhills in 2000, a super-G in 2004 and finished third in another super-G in 2005.

Miller boosted his overall lead over Cuche, the defending downhill champion, and closed in on the Swiss in the downhill standings.

“Yesterday, after only one training run, I really didn’t feel I could go 100 percent,” Miller said. “Today, I knew what it was going to feel like. I knew the bumps. I cleaned up a few of the spots where I had trouble yesterday.”

Miller believes being an independent skier made him a better Alpine racer.

“I feel good,” he said. “Fitnesswise I’m in great shape right now because of the dry-land training. I’m not tired at the bottom in these races. My energy is high.

“It’s easy to get motivated. In the past, sometimes in the middle and the end of the season it’s been tough to find that.”

Americans Marco Sullivan and Steven Nyman crashed into a safety net coming into the final turn but escaped injury. Sullivan, who won his first World Cup downhill in late January, also crashed Friday.

Miller posted the fastest split times from top to bottom on the course.

“I hit really hard on the first big turn,” he said. “I was pretty smooth up there and carried a lot of speed on the flats.”

Miller is ahead of Cuche in the overall standings by 165 points. Miller has 1,283 with seven races left, with five held March 12-16 at the World Cup finals in Bormio, Italy.

Benjamin Raich stayed at 1,058 points and dropped to third. The Austrian skied out and finished out of the points for the second straight day. Each win is worth 100 points.

In 2005, Miller became the first American since Phil Mahre in 1983 to win the men’s overall title. He does not want to think about another one yet.

“We have to wait and see. There are seven races left ” that’s a lot of points. You can never count Benny out in the overall,” he said. “When I get on the course, the last thing I’m thinking about is the overall. I just push it. If I push it too hard, I can easily make mistakes and go out.”

In the downhill standings, only five points separate Cuche and Miller.

“The downhill title race is exactly how I’d love to have it,” Miller said. “It comes down to the last race and Didier has been so strong all year, and he showed today that with no mistakes, he’s right there. Bormio is going to be a challenge.”

The super-G is Sunday.

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