Miller wins slalom in Austria
ST. ANTON, Austria – Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., attacked the second run of slalom Sunday and went on to his fifth World Cup win of the season, the best showing by a United States man since Phil Mahre won six races – including the overall, giant slalom and combined titles – in the 1983 season.
Miller also barged his way back into the overall World Cup points parade, moving up to third, a point out of second place.
Miller, the only American to reach the second run, previously had won two giant slaloms and both combined tallies this season. He had a two-run time of 1 minute, 34.60 seconds, for the 11th win of his career with Finn Kalle Palander in second place at 1:35.55 and local hero Mario Matt – the 2001 World Championships slalom gold medalist in St. Anton – third (1:35.69).
Millerr’s victory – his first in slalom since January 2002 under the lights and before tens of thousands of howling fans in Schladming – marked the first time any U.S. Ski Team has won in all five disciplines (SL/GS/super G/downhill/combined) in a season. A hasty check of records also indicates no U.S. Ski Team had athletes win in all four events in the pre-SG days; super G arrived with the 1983 season.
He stands third behind Mahre (27) and Tamara McKinney (18) on the list of U.S. alpine World Cup winners; Mahre won the 1981, “82 and “83 overall World Cup crowns while McKinney was the 1983 overall women’s champion. This was only the third World Cup weekend in St. Anton since 1988; the last time racers came to this renowned alpine village, Miller wasn’t around for the slalom after crashing and tearing left knee ligaments in the combined downhill during the 2001 World Championships.
Fog forced organizers to turn on course-side lights by mid-morning to provide better visibility and warm weather softened conditions for the final run although the sun moved clouds away.
Miller didn’t hold back
While most skiers had a problem with the softening conditions, Miller went right at the final course. He led by .17 after the first run – with Norway’s Truls Ove Karlsen in second place and Palander third, .56 back. Midway down the run, he was .84 ahead before finally finishing .95 up on Palander.
“I needed two good runs and I got two good runs,” Miller said. “I still had some more to give out there. It’s gonna come down to the last few races. What I need now is for some guys to start beating Hermann.”
The win moves Miller into third place overall behind Austria’s Hermann Maier, who doesn’t ski slalom, and Benjamin Raich, who skied out in his first run. Maier has 1,054 points to 985 for Raich and 984 for Miller. Raich doesn’t ski many downhills and suffered a concussion in a super G two weeks ago in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Miller is the only racer to have run every event last season into the present.
“It’s gonna be tough but if I can keep winning slaloms like this – and GSes – it’s gonna come down to the wire,” Miller said. “One of the things I’ve got going for me is I’m the only one skiing all four events.”
Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” poured from the public address speakers as the Carrabassett Valley Academy racer realized he had won it. He called it, “One of those ski races that makes you really enjoy racing as a competitor.”
“I really pushed my limits the second run. It would have put a smile on my face even if I hadn’t won,” said Miller.
He was top-3 twice in slalom this season.
“I started to sound like a broken record, telling the press my slalom wasn’t so bad, the equipment wasn’t so bad,” he said. “Everything worked. It was just one thing or another that kept victory beyond his reach.”
Gold for Mancuso; Team Gets Trophy
MARIBOR, Slovenia – Julia Mancuso of Olympic Valley, Calif., finished sixth in slalom Sunday and clinched the combined gold medal at the World Junior Championships, while first-run leader Lindsey Kildow of Vail missed a second-run gate and hiked to finish her run. She was 32nd but it kept her in fourth place in combined, protecting the U.S. Ski Team’s victory for the Marc Hodler Trophy for team supremacy.
Austrian Kathrin Zettel won the slalom in 1 minute, 40.73 seconds, and earned the combined silver medal, keeping her teammates close but still behind in the team calculation. The combined at World Juniors measures slalom, GS and downhill results.
Nika Fleiss of Croatia was the silver medalist in 1:40.82 with Czech racer Sarka Zahrobska taking the bronze. Mancuso finished sixth with a time of 1:41.39 and Kaylin Richardson of Edina, Minn., was 11th to lift her into eighth in the combined.
It’s Mancuso’s USA-record eighth World Juniors medal, one behind Germany’s Maria Riesch, who won the downhill and giant slalom but fell Sunday in the first run of SL.
“It was one of those rollercoaster rides you get in slalom,” said Trevor Wagner, U.S. women’s Europa Cup coach. “Lindsey really pulled it through for the team. She went down on the fifth or sixth gate, and hiking that gate was a pretty cool thing. She knew she still could be in it for a combined medal and it was great for the team.”