Miller wins super-combined title |

Miller wins super-combined title

Bode Miller, of the United States, reacts after winning a men's World Cup Super-Combined race, in Val d'Isere, France, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

VAL D’ISERE, France ” Bode Miller was far from his best in the slalom portion of Sunday’s World Cup super-combi, and that might be why the American won both the race and clinched the discipline title.

“I was at 40 percent in the slalom,” Miller said after winning in a combined time of 2 minutes, 18.45 seconds. “I know that if I’m at 100 percent in the slalom, chances are that I won’t finish.”

The American skied the Face de Bellevarde downhill leg in 1:33.88 in the morning, 1.37 seconds faster than second-place Didier Defago of Switzerland. Most of the slalom specialists trailed by more than a second.

“I’ve understood that when I’m at 100 percent in the downhill, it gives me more maneuvering room over my opponents,” Miller said. “I can then adjust in the slalom.”

Miller’s 30th win on the World Cup circuit, and fifth this season, was enough to give him his third super-combi title with 410 points. He won the discipline in 2003 and 2004.

The win also increased Miller’s lead in the overall World Cup standings.

“There are still four or five guys who can win the overall title,” said Miller, who won the top trophy in 2005.

Miller has 1,067 points after 28 races. Benjamin Raich of Austria is second with 945, and downhill leader Didier Cuche of Switzerland is next with 882.

Ivica Kostelic of Croatia, who finished second Sunday, 0.38 behind Miller, was second in the super-combi standings with 256 points.

Kostelic was 2.26 seconds off the pace after the downhill leg, but had the fastest slalom time. Croatian teammate Natko Zrncic-Dim was third.

Jean-Baptiste Grange was second in the super-combi standings before the race and the only skier who could prevent Miller from winning the discipline’s crystal globe.

The Frenchman trailed Miller by 2.77 seconds after the downhill run. He pushed himself to cut the deficit in the slalom, but did not finish, making two mistakes in the course’s upper section.

“I was not in a good rhythm,” Grange said. “To skid off the course can happen. But it’s due more to fatigue than pressure. I haven’t had a day off since Jan. 1.”

Grange ended up fourth in the standings with 220 points, 25 less than third-place Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland.

Despite Grange’s DNF, Miller praised him and other slalom specialists.

“I can’t compete in the slalom against guys like (Julien) Lizeroux or Grange, who invest all their energy in slalom,” said Miller, who also won the Bormio and Wengen downhills, the Kitzbuehel combined, and the Chamonix super-combi.

The next men’s World Cup race is a slalom scheduled for Saturday at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

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