Miller third in Germany, pads points lead
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany – Newly crowned downhill world champion Bode Miller finished third Friday behind Austrian Michael Walchhofer in a makeup downhill and fattened his World Cup points lead. Daron Rahlves was fifth in an overcast, flat-light setting.Walchhofer, downhill bronze medalist two weeks ago in Bormio, Italy, behind Miller and Rahlves, was timed in 1 minute 57.79 seconds. Teammate Hermann Maier was second at 1:58.78, and Miller – surviving an errant right ski in mid-race, which he pulled back in to save a potential problem after going wide on a turn – finished third in 1:58.92. He had led through the first two timing intervals until his miscue.
“It would have taken an error-free run to beat Walchhofer today,” Miller said.Rahlves came down in 1:59.11 with Scott Macartney 32nd and JJ Johnson 36th. The Kandahar race course was blanketed by more than a foot of snow this week as storms rolled through southern Germany; only one training run was held.”We had some fun,” said downhill head coach John McBride. “It was a little tough to watch our young guys, Scotty Mac and JJ, come so close to scoring points (i.e., top 30) and not get there … coming down in the top 25 for three-quarters of their run and then not make it. But I think they’ll change that (Saturday) and get it all the way down the run, if the weather cooperates and we get that second race in the books. They were in range … and we know they can do it.”And Bode and ‘D’ were there, so close … and I’m satisfied with this effort,” McBride said. “They were 1-2 fastest on the top, but then ‘D’ lost time on a long, gliding section through the middle, and Bode boned it on the bottom. He did a nice job to save it, pulling that ski in, but that one turn was the difference between second and third place, no question.”
Miller said some video analysis Friday night could help him in the second downhill. “Hopefully we’ll be able to look at some video tonight and clean up a couple more areas,” he said. “But, obviously, the big expectation is to execute better on the last two turns tomorrow. Hopefully, I can just bring the line in and ski where I know I should and not go way out in the powder. I’m looking at the split times now, and I see that I lost eight-tenths to Walchhofer on the last 12 seconds of the course. “If you’re going to do something like that and still win, you’ll have to do something magical. To have more than eight-tenths in the bag on Walchhofer is, I think, insane. I’ll make a few minor adjustments on top and clean up the bottom, and I’ll be in there.”
Miller received 60 points for third place, which boosted his lead over Benjamin Raich, who was 11th, to 131 points – 1,153 points to 1,022. The race, the first of two downhills in Garmisch, was relocated from Kitzbuehel, Austria, which was hard-hit by storms last month. Walchhofer padded his World Cup downhill points lead to 531 with Miller runner-up (438); three downhills remain. The men run another downhill Saturday and then are scheduled for a super-G Sunday. Ten races remain – two more this weekend, a giant slalom/slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Feb. 26-27; another DH/SG combination March 5-6 in Kvitfjell, Norway, and World Cup Finals – SL, GS, super G and downhill – March 9-13 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.Vail, Colorado