Miller is back, and talking
CHAMONIX, France – Bode Miller’s first day back on the slopes ended with a third-place finish in a World Cup race Thursday, and then skiing’s bad boy denied ever suggesting that Lance Armstrong took performance-enhancing drugs.Miller, who took a week off the World Cup circuit and played golf in Dubai, has been criticized for comments he made last month in Rolling Stone magazine about Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner, and baseball slugger Barry Bonds.”In no way was I trying to incriminate him (Armstrong) or accuse him in any way of cheating,” Miller said after finishing third behind Austrians Benjamin Raich and Rainer Schoenfelder in a super-combi. “The interview was pretty warped and pretty compressed to make it sound that way.”Rolling Stone spokeswomen Nora Haynes said Friday that the magazine stands by its reporting.Miller said he hasn’t spoken to Armstrong since, but would apologize if he saw him.On the slopes, the 28-year-old ski whiz was clearly back in form with his third podium finish in the combined this season.
“I think my head is consistently pretty much in the same place, but it was nice to take a break and play golf,” Miller said.Raich rallied from 17th to win in a combined time of 2 minutes, 36.48 seconds for a downhill run followed by a slalom run, extending his lead atop the overall standings. Miller finished in 2:37.47 for his third top-three result in the combined this season.Miller was third last month in a super-combi in Val d’Isere, France and third two weeks ago in a traditional combined in Kitzbuehel, Austria.”It’s a traditional super-combined for me, but I had some mistakes in downhill,” Miller said. “It’s a little hard to come straight out of one training run. I think I pushed a little too hard in some parts.”Hermann Maier, who initially hoped to get a strong result ahead of the Olympic combined event, was third-quickest in the downhill but later withdrew from the race in protest over the format. He argued that the downhill had been shortened too much and the slalom leg was too long, favoring the technical skiers.After 30 World Cup races, Raich leads the overall standings with 1,065 points. Michael Walchhofer is second with 820, followed by Miller with 748.Miller, meanwhile, is gearing up for the Olympics.
“Maybe I can’t win a race on any given day I choose to, but I can ski as fast or faster than the others,” he said. “That doesn’t necessarily translate into a win. But I’ve showed the last eight years I have the speed to compete for the win and to be a lot faster than the other guys.”Rolling Stone’s interview quoted Miller as saying: “Right now, if you want to cheat, you can: Barry Bonds and those guys are just knowingly cheating, but there’s all sorts of loopholes. If you say it has to be knowingly, you do what Lance (Armstrong) and all those guys do, where every morning their doctor gives them a box of pills and they don’t ask anything, they just take the pills. Yeah, they’re not knowingly taking any substance, they don’t … ask what it is, but they are sure as (expletive) are taking it.”Miller said Friday the statements came at different times.”The two statements were probably five minutes apart, as far as any word of cheating or doping or anything like that,” Miller said. “And then the statement about him was simply about the stuff that he’s dealt with, and then the fact that the sport is involved with a lot of issues like that, and he’s in the spotlight and has to deal with it by really not (dealing with it).”Spain’s Rienda wins GS
OFTERSCHWANG, Germany – Maria Jose Rienda of Spain won her second giant slalom of the season Friday, while American Julia Mancusco finished 10th.Rienda had the fastest time in both runs to win in 2 minutes, 19.52 seconds, becoming the first skier to win the discipline twice this season. She was .64 ahead of Swede Anja Paerson, and Austrian Kathrin Zettel finished third.”I’m feeling good and I will try to feel the same at the Olympics,” Rienda said. “I’m skiing so well – I think it was perfect today.”Three-time Olympic gold medalist Janica Kostelic was 14th after two mistake-riddled runs.The 30-year-old Rienda won her fourth career race, all giant slaloms, and picked up her second win this season after a victory in Aspen, Colorado. The five previous giant slalom races had produced five different winners.Paerson is the world champion and tops the giant slalom season standings, ahead of Kostelic.”She can take the favorite role, I don’t mind. She is skiing very well right now,” Paerson said of Rienda. “In giant slalom, we really have a tight top – a lot of girls are skiing well.”