March 16, 2006
ARE, Sweden (USST Release)—Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH) and Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), who tied for victory in the last super G of the 2005 season, finished 1-2 Thursday in super G at World Cup Finals. Overall, they have finished 1-2 or tied for a win six times since December 2004.
Miller, skiing ninth - and after finishing second Wednesday in the final downhill of the season, finished in 1:27.78 for the 21st World Cup victory of his career. Rahlves was timed in 1:28.12 with Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal third and Hermann Maier of Austria fourth; Svindal clinched the World Cup super G title by two points over Maier, succeeding Miller as super G champion.
Miller was the first of four U.S. skiers and hoped he could help his teammates with a strong course report. "When I came down, I was pretty sure someone would use the information I gave them on the course and ski a little it cleaner - not necessarily that someone would out-ski me, but ski cleaner, he said. "The mistakes that I made amounted to over a second...
He said the courses provided serious challenges for everyone, especially in an event where racers don't get a chance to train - they just show up, inspect and race. "I had some good turns but also made a lot of mistakes, Miller said. [pagebreak]
]Miller: podiums make a nice end to any season "The course was very challenging. There was good visibility, good snow. It seems I was just waiting for the right conditions. It's always nice to end the season like that.
After his run, the jury called a brief hold as course workers shaved a bump. "I think the reason they were doing it was based on athlete safety, and I'm always okay with that, he said.
With a second in DH and the super G win, Miller's two World Cup Finals results - with giant slalom and slalom remaining - have provided new energy to his season after the Olympics. "It's good to end the season on such a high note, he said.
"I'm always charging and I was really charging at the Olympics, he said. "Maybe I was over-amped.
Miller and Rahlves came to Are in sixth and seventh place, respectively, in the overall points. His two podiums have lifted Miller back into third place behind Austrian Benjamin Raich - who succeeded Miller as overall champion - and Svindal while Rahlves has climbed to fourth place. Miller is expected to race Friday in the giant slalom and Saturday in slalom while Rahlves will compete in the GS. [pagebreak]
]Nasty blind turns add to racing challenge"It was a helluva good ride, said Rahlves, the 2001 super G world champion who will retire after this season. "It was pretty tough because this is a gnarly track, very challenging and the one who makes the least amount of mistakes - especially in key spots - is gonna win. They have so much terrain, and some of it is so blind...
"At one point, I came over a blind spot and I was about 20 feet off-line, outside the gate. I still don't know I how I pulled that in and made it. In some spots, I thought it was all over, he said. "The bottom, both days, was my strong point. He was seventh Wednesday as Svindal won the downhill with Miller second.
Rahlves said he liked the course, but was resisting the idea of returning next season to compete in the 2007 World Championships in Are. "There's a lot of terrain; the (man-made) jumps are great and it's such a good downhill run. It'll be good for World Championships next year. It'll be fun to watch. It's tempting to think I could come back and win the downhill, or maybe the super G, I'm happy the way things are ending...
"It hasn't been a lot of fun since Kitzbuehel; it's nice to be back on the podium, he added. After winning the DHs at the VISA Birds of Prey races at beaver Creek, Colo., in early December and then Bormio, Italy, and Wengen, Switzerland, he was third in the storied Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel. But Rahlves struggled at the Olympics, finishing ninth in SG and 10th in downhill, and in post-Olymmpics giant slaloms in South Korea, he said, "That's a long way to go for a 13th and a DNF (did not finish).
He and Miller agreed once more - they've had plenty of practice with six joint podiums in a little over 15 months - it's always pleasant to have a teammate on the podium "I'm second again, Rahlves said, "but if I can't be on that top step, I want it to be one of my teammates. The Austrians do it a lot and we don't get that opportunity as much, so it's always special.
Rahlves said Johno McBride, men's downhill/SG head coach for the past four seasons and a national team coach since the 1997 season, and Pete Bosinger, an assistant speed coach since the 2003 season, announced Wednesday night at a team dinner they would be leaving after this season. "So, that makes this even more special, Rahlves said. "Johno and Pedro - and (Chris) Brigham (who remains) have worked so hard for us, sacrificed so much, so it's nice to give 'em this double podium as a retirement present.
"This was a cool race...very cool, McBride said. "We saw some pretty outstanding skiing, especially by 'D' who was something like eight-tenths out at the first split and then just nailed the bottom of the run again.
"Bode, right out of the box, put it down; he crushed the top and skied the bottom very well, too - down by me, where others had tried to pin it inside on a turn, he swung it out, kept it clean and took it in...about five turns from the finish.
Having two of his racers finish 1-2 in his last race added to the special flavor of the day, McBride said. "It's a dynamite way to go out, he said.
World Cup Finals are limited to the top 25 skiers in each discipline as well as Junioe World Championships gold medalists. After the races in Are conclude Sunday with the team event, U.S. skiers return for the TD Banknorth U.S. Alpine Championships March 25-30 at Sugarloaf USA in Maine. [pagebreak]