SCHLADMING, Austria (Jan. 22) -- With some 50,000 spectators going haywire, Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) collected his fourth World Cup victory of the Olympic season Tuesday night, ignoring softening snow conditions to fatten his lead on the second run as he led four U.S. skiers into the top 25.
Miller skied first and never trailed.
He led the first run and, just as many were willing to concede the slalom to Frenchman Jean Pierre Vidal, who had a sizzling second run, Miller overcame a bobble up top and gained speed and time as he tore down the flood-lit slope of the Planai. His winning time was 1:44.60 with Vidal second in 1:45.26 and Croatian Ivicia Kostelic, who picked up his first World Cup win when Miller blew the first of two slaloms in November during the Chevy Truck Aspen Winternational, in third place (1:47.05).
Tom Rothrock (Cashmere, WA) had the eighth-fastest second run and was 16th as he earned his second top-20, meeting an Olympic criteria. Chip Knight (Stowe, VT) -- who also has a pair of top 20s -- was 21st with Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT) 25th.
Miller: "You can't back off"
"This was a challenging hill and you can't back off," Miller said. "I saw some great runs out there and I knew I needed to be pushing it."
Miller shrugged off any suggestion that his fourth win -- his third in slalom -- made him the overwhelming favorite at the Olympics next month. For one thing, Kostelic is still the World Cup slalom leader; for another, Miller said, "Typically, the favorites haven't had that much success."
His performance is the best since Phil Mahre won six races during the 1982 season when he captured his second of three straight World Cup overall titles plus the GS and slalom crowns.
"I'm willing to risk everything..."
"I guess I don't deal with it as pressure," the Carrabassett Valley Academy grad said. "I look at it in a different way. I don't feel I have to do something. ...But I'm willing to risk everything. I feel ready for it. I feel comfortable."
Again, he said his success is a combination of things, part of which is his equipment. He was allowed to have a lot of input last summer as Fischer Skis designed a slalom ski to his specifications.
The men's tech group is finished as the schedule returns to two super G's Saturday and Sunday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
FIS CAFE DE COLOMBIA WORLD CUP
Schladming, AUT - Jan. 22
1. Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H., 1:44.60
2. Jean Pierre Vidal, France, 1:45.26
3. Ivica Kostelic, Croatia, 1:47.05
4. (tie) Rainer Schoenfelder, Austria, and Mitja Kunc, Slovenia, 1:47.10 each
16. Tom Rothrock, Cashmere, Wash., 1:48.79
21. Chip Knight, Stowe, Vt., 1:49.41
25. Erik Schlopy, Park City, Utah, 1:49.55
Did not qualify for 2nd run: Casey Puckett, Aspen, Colo.
DNF-1: Sacha Gros, Vail, Colo.
Cafe de Colombia World Cup
1. Stephan Eberharter, Austria - 1,032 points
2. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway, 851
3. Miller, 820
4. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 606
5. Kostelic, 548
31. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, Calif., 170
56. Schlopy, 86
84. Chad Fleischer, Vail, Colo., 41
88. Knight, 38
91. Rothrock, 36
95. Puckett, 34
98. Dane Spencer, Boise, Idaho, 32
105. Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, N.Y., 23
111. Gros, 17
135. Jake Fiala, Frisco, Colo., 5
137. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, Calif., 4