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Miller Opens Worlds with Super-G Gold

January 29, 2005





BORMIO, Italy (AP by Andrew Danmf)--Bode Miller won the super giant slalom Saturday to open the world championships for his first victory in six weeks despite nearly jumping off the course midway through his run.

Miller, who plans to race all six events at the worlds, covered the Stelvio course in 1 minute, 27.55 seconds. This was his sixth medal in the world championships or Olympics.

He was followed by three Austrians: Michael Walchhofer, 0.14 seconds behind; Benjamin Raich, second to Miller in the overall World Cup standings, 0.68 back; and Hermann Maier, 0.85 behind. Miller's American teammate Daron Rahlves, the 2001 super-G world champion, was 10th.

``It feels good. It has been awhile,'' Miller said. ``It wasn't the best of runs, but when I came down and crossed the finish I thought I would be lucky to hang on to a top-three. I was surprised to have won.''

He normally focuses more on skiing well than posting a good result.

``But sometimes you just have to take the result,'' he said. ``On a day where no one had a perfect run and you were the best, it's still a good feeling.''

Miller began the season by piling up six victories in the first 10 races, but he had not won since. His previous victory came in a night slalom in Sestriere on Dec. 13.

Miller went farther than any other skier on the longest jump. He landed outside the lines indicating the course for skiers and had to immediately change direction at full speed to make it past the next gate.

At the previous worlds in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 2003, Miller tied for second with Maier behind super-G winner Stephan Eberharter, an Austrian who retired after last season.

This race lived up to its billing as a duel between Austrians and Americans, with the elite portion coming down to the final five skiers, all from the two countries.

Raich started No. 26 and posted the fastest time to that point. Then came Miller with the No. 27 bib, showing his usual unorthodox, flailing form but skiing far faster than anyone else all the way through.

Walchhofer was next and held a 0.04-second lead on Miller at the final split, but he made a slight slip in the final section.

``I'm so happy because my super-G is never as good as my downhill,'' said Walchhofer, who will defend his downhill world title next Saturday. ``It was important _ two medals _ there is a lot of pressure in Austria for skiing.''

Rahlves started 29th and was behind by the first checkpoint, only to lose more time as he made his way to the finish.

Maier, who won a super-G in Kitzbuehel, Austria, on Monday in his favorite discipline, was the final top skier out of the starting hut. He was in position for a top-three finish at the last split, but he also lost a lot of time in the final meters, a section featuring a jump just before the finish line.

The women's super-G is Sunday in nearby Santa Caterina Valfurva.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press

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