GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany Feb. 23, 2003 (AP by Erica Bulman)--Bode Miller had a jarring return to everyday life on the World Cup circuit this past weekend in Germany.
Hoping to continue his winning ways after grabbing two golds and a silver in the world championships in St. Moritz, Miller instead found himself lagging back in 28th in Saturday's downhill, before veering off course Sunday in the Super G, a discipline he finally seemed to have mastered.
The American arrived at the German resort boosted by his three world medals and trailing Stephan Eberharter by five points in the chase for the overall World Cup title.
Taking world gold in the giant slalom and combined, Miller appeared to also have successfully moved into the speed events, tying for second place with Hermann Maier behind Eberharter in the Super G.
But going from an easy field-evening course in St. Moritz to one of the great classics, which skiers unanimously described as the toughest course this season, was a tough test for Miller.
And his poor showing, combined Eberharter's brilliant results this weekend, has proven costly for the American.
Eberharter picked up 180 points over two days. The experience of a true speed specialist with rock-solid technique prevailed on the arduous, near bulletproof Kandahar course, winning him the downhill and earning him second place behind Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein in the Super G.
``It's been an unbelievable weekend for me,'' Eberharter said. ``I scored 180 points so I'm more than satisfied.
``Even though I don't think about the overall when I'm racing, when you count the total at the end, I'm almost 200 points ahead of Bode. It's a good position to be in.
``The World Cup is not yet decided. I guess we will have to wait the last races to know the overall winner.''
As a result, Miller heads to the races in Asia trailing Eberharter by 185 points.
But traditionally a technical specialist, Miller can take hope in the fact there are six gate races left this season and just two speed events.
Next week, the World Cup circuit travels to the Far East for four technical races, beginning with a giant slalom and a slalom in Yong Pyong, South Korea, then another slalom and giant slalom in Shiga Kogen, Japan, before returning to Europe. The finals are in Lillehammer, Norway, the site of the 1994 Winter Olympics.
``There are more technical events than speed events,'' Miller said. ``But going to Korea will be key in catching Eberharter.
``The circuit moving to Asia favors North Americans who are used to traveling. It's an advantage for us. In Europe, they're not used to going far or for long periods of time.''
But Miller will need to turn around a dismal year in the slalom, what used to be his best discipline.
This season, he finished on the podium only once in the slalom, a second place in Bormio. Other than that, he crashed out or went off course four times, and twice finished out of the top 10.
``I've got to go really well in the slalom,'' Miller said. ``But in the end, I just need to think about skiing well in the race. I'm not thinking about points. The points take care of themselves.''
Overall World Cup Standings
1. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 1,145 points.
2. Bode Miller, United States, 960.
3. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway, 825.
4. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 635.
5. Daron Rahlves, United States, 587.
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press