Miller wins second downhill of season
WENGEN, Switzerland ” Bode Miller won the Lauberhorn downhill Saturday, crashing across the finish line and moving within two wins of Phil Mahre’s U.S. record for World Cup victories.
Miller finished in 2 minutes, 28.89 seconds for his 25th World Cup win, 0.65 seconds faster than Didier Cuche of Switzerland. Peter Fill of Italy was third, 1.47 seconds behind Miller. American Steven Nyman was 11th.
“It’s tough. I knew I was pretty much going to crash in the finish if I skied the last ‘S’ like I wanted to,” Miller said. “I was pretty prepared for it.
“When you ski for 2 minutes, 30 seconds before that and you don’t know how far you’re going to jump, well, let’s say I didn’t have it in my head I was going to land on my feet.”
At 2.8 miles, the Lauberhorn is the longest downhill on the World Cup circuit and also one of the most physically demanding slopes. The final “S” turn just before the finish line is a spectacularly difficult set of sharp curves. Skiers end their run with a huge jump, landing just before the finish line.
Miller nailed the “S” section but appeared to have no strength left in his legs when he landed the jump, slumping to the ground and sliding across the finish line.
It marked Miller’s second downhill win of the season, adding to his triumph at Beaver Creek.
The victory was the second straight by a U.S. skier on the Lauberhorn, following Daron Rahlves’ win last year.
Eleven skiers crashed mid-race and others fell at the finish. American Marco Sullivan fell so violently that his helmet flew off, but he was not hurt.
“The soldier dude gave it back to me and the neck strap was still closed,” Sullivan said. “Next time I’ll have to strap it a bit tighter.”
Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who was eighth in 2:30.75, still leads the World Cup overall standings with 671 points after 19 races. Cuche is second with 651, and Miller is third with 640.
Cuche kept the discipline leader’s red bib. He tops the downhill standings with 410 points, followed by Liechtenstein’s Marco Buechel with 293 and Austria’s Michael Walchhofer with 286. Miller is fifth with 270.
Miller wasn’t the only skier to fall across the finish line Saturday. Austria’s Fritz Strobl, the 2002 Olympic champion, and Pierre-Emmanuel Dalcin of France also had scary crashes there.
The final “S” turn has been the site of gruesome accidents over the years.
In 1991, Austrian rookie Gernot Reinstadler died from massive internal injuries after crashing there. Adrien Duvillard of France suffered a serious head trauma in 1997 when he hit a fence.
Also Saturday, race organizers announced they would replace Sunday’s World Cup slalom in Wengen with a super-combi race. The super-combi was washed out Friday by rain.
A super-combi consists of a downhill run and a slalom leg. Officials felt the downhill and slalom courses could handle one run each Sunday. And it is generally easier to reschedule a slalom than a super-combi on the World Cup tour.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.