March 11, 2005
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (USST)--In near-storybook style, World Cup leader Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) and Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) deadlocked for the victory in super G Friday at World Cup Finals, giving Miller the super G title. Austrian Benni Raich was 11th, dropping another 76 points away from Miller - now 184 back - in the shootout for the overall title; he must win both races this weekend to have a chance for the overall.
Outdoor Life Network will carry coverage of the downhill and super G at World Cup Finals Sunday at 3-5 p.m. ET.
"I was a little nervous at the start. In (pre-race) inspection, I noticed it's a really fast course," Miller, the 2005 super G world champion, said after his seventh win of the season and 19th of his career. He added that it was "great" to not only share the podium but the historic win with Rahlves, the 2001 super world champion.
"He's wanted to win all year and it just hasn't happened for Daron, and sometimes it's like that. This is special," Miller said.
Their winning time was 1:10.24 over the 2K course, which was set by U.S. speed Head Coach John McBride as part of the routine rotation of course-setters organized by the International Ski Federation.
McBride: strong course report sets up tie
"It's so rewarding, as a coach, to see how they continue to push each other, Bode pushing 'D' and 'D' pushing Bode," said McBride. "I'll be honest with you, though. For me, the most rewarding part of the day was not setting the course and seeing your two guys ski well and tie for the win, but to see them listen to the coaches, make their adjustments, execute the way they needed to...
"Daron gave him a really strong course report - not super specific, pretty much 'The plan we talked about was right on the money. Do what we said' and so forth. Daron skied a little conservative in the middle and a great job on the bottom - he really pinned it - and Bode skied fantastic through three-quarters of the course, made a little bobble at the bottom, and got it done."
"I struggled and struggled hard," Miller said. He was .47 ahead at the second interval but had to fight to stay on the course because of the speed he was carrying, he said. He overtook Austrian Hermann Maier for the title with Rahlves jumping into third in the SG standings; at the finish, as he came down ninth after a bad midrace mistake, Maier came over and congratulated Miller with a big smile, shaking his hand.
"It still all came down to Maier. If I won and he finished second, he'd still win the title," Miller said. He was particularly pleased with clinching the title, saying he felt super G was one of his best events - "my skills match up so well with super G," he said - and was mystified a year ago when he didn't have a single SG top-10 in the seven World Cup races.
Miller, a Carrabassett Valley Academy (ME) graduate, said he wouldn't back off Saturday in giant slalom. "I'm defending that title from last year. I want to come out and win that one, too," he said at the foot of the sun-splashed course where temperatures were in the low 20s.
Rahlves, a Green Mountain Valley School (VT) alum who was chasing his first win of the season, skied two racers ahead of Miller and took the lead, then quickly radioed a course report back to the top. "It's pretty cool, the last race and to take home 100 points (for the win, the ninth of his career) is pretty sweet," Rahlves said.
Rahlves: "I've fought for this..."
He shrugged off the fact McBride set the run, noting, "It doesn't matter who set the course today, it was going to be rough." The Silvano Beltrametti course, named for the popular, local World Cup racer who was paralyzed in a racing crash a couple of years, was cut last summer.
"There were a lot of blind turns and steep fallaways," Rahlves said, acknowledging, "I've fought for this all year...wanted to win annd was bummed about (Thursday when he was sixth in downhill) and I tried to rebound. The good thing about this sport is each day you have a chance to redeem yourself."
Men's Head Coach Phil McNichol said having Miller and Rahlves tie for the win was part of the Ski Team game plan discussed Thursday night. "Today was pretty kick-ass," he said. "Our plan coming into Finals was to win the downhill and the super G - making it perfect would have been to have Daron win downhill and Bode take super G and the title. It didn't work out that way (Thursday) and Bode was only second, so last night at the team meeting we said, 'How're we gonna make up for this? We need two wins to make up for it.
"And Bode said, 'Well, I'll win the top and Daron can win the bottom and put all that together and we can clean it up. Keep focused and get the job done,' and I'd have to say it's a plan well-executed. I love it when your athletes respond to good coaching," he said, laughing.
Two guys...1 and 1-a..."
"You have two guys in a race and they finish 1 and 1-a...great tribute to their determination. For Daron, of course, it's such a measure of the man. He would not be denied. He wanted so desperately to win a race to validate the fact he'd had a good season, but to finish the season without a victory would have been very difficult for him. He has such high expectations.
"But you talk about a guy who would not be denied - Maier in GS at Worlds, for instance, or Lasse (Kjus of Norway, who won Thursday's DH) when people have counted them out...just when people are thinking 'It's not gonna happen' and these guys will not be denied. Daron Rahlves defined his character today, not letting the season pass without a victory, not being denied that win, not exiting the year without a World Cup win. That's so great to see...so great."
The men run giant slalom Saturday and slalom Sunday.
Raich - the World Cup SL champion, World Championships gold medalist in slalom and silver medalist in GS - must win both races; a victory and second-place finish would give him 180 points, not enough to overtake Miller. On the other hand, Miller, who has not finished seven of the eight SLs this season, only needs to finish 14th or better (18 points for 14th place) either day for the overall championships, making Miller the first American to capture the overall since 1983 when both Phil Mahre and Tamara McKinney won their respective overall titles.
At the same time, Miller cautioned, the overall shootout was not over. "There are still 200 points up for grabs. It's never over until it's mathematically over. Benni can win both events, so I need to ski well," he said.
The first run of men's GS Saturday begins at 4 a.m. ET, second at 6:30 a.m. ET. Sunday, the slalom runs begin at 3 a.m. ET and 5:30 A.M. ET. To follow the racing live through interval timing, go to:http://livetiming.usskiteam.com/index.php?disp=m