March 11, 2005
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (AP)--Bode Miller tied with American teammate Daron Rahlves to win the final super-G of the season Friday, virtually wrapping up the overall World Cup title.
Miller increased his overall World Cup lead to 184 points over Benjamin Raich of Austria, who finished 11th in Friday's race.
It was Miller's first World Cup victory since taking a slalom at Sestriere, Italy, on Dec. 13.
The win also earned Miller the season's World Cup super-G title in an upset over Austria's Hermann Maier.
Maier started the day with a 54-point lead on Miller in the super-G standings. Miller and Maier were the final two skiers down the course.
After Miller finished even with Rahlves in 1 minute, 10.24 seconds, Maier needed a podium place to secure the title but was ninth.
``I really had my heart set on that,'' said Miller, who became the first American to win the super-G title since the discipline was introduced in 1986. ``It was matter of Hermann more than me. I did my part and then all I could do was watch him. He made a mistake in the middle and that was it.''
Miller said he was helped by a course report from Rahlves, who registered his first victory of the season.
``I put down an amazingly aggressive run today,'' he said.
Another Austrian, Stephan Goergl, completed the podium with third place in 1:10.29.
Miller beat Maier 470-453 in the final super-G standings.
In the overall standings, Miller leads Raich 1,528 points to 1,344.
The only way Miller can lose the overall title is if Raich wins the remaining two races _ Saturday's giant slalom and Sunday's slalom _ and the American finishes outside the top 15 both days.
``There are still 200 points up for grabs,'' Miller said. ``It's never over until it's mathematically over. Benni can win both events, so I need to ski well.''
Miller is bidding to become the first American to win an overall title since Phil Mahre and Tamara McKinney in 1983.
The American won two gold medals at last month's world championships, but he has seen his World Cup lead shrink from 400 points over Raich in December to just 52 entering the World Cup finals.
He added the super-G title to the small crystal globe he won in giant slalom last season.
Having begun his career as a technical specialist, Miller has transformed himself this season into one of the top speed skiers on the circuit.
He won the opening super-G of the season in Lake Louise, Canada, in November and finished second in another super-G a few days later in Beaver Creek, Colorado. In the final five super-G's of the season, he finished in the top five each time.
Miller and Rahlves may have been aided by the fact that U.S. speed coach John McBride set the course for Friday's race under World Cup rules that rotate the job among coaches from race to race.
``It doesn't matter who set the course today, it was going to be tough,'' Rahlves said. ``There were a lot of blind turns and steep fall aways.''
After finishing sixth in Thursday's downhill, Rahlves was bitterly disappointed at having concluded the year without a win in his favorite event.
Friday's victory, his ninth World Cup win overall and third in super-G, allowed him to finish the season on a positive.
``It feels good. I've been fighting all year for this. I had my back up against the wall. There were only two races left this season, but I kept fighting,'' said Rahlves, who will conclude his season in Saturday's giant slalom.
``It wasn't a comfortable feeling this morning. I was bummed by yesterday and I tried to rebound. The good thing about this sport is each day you have a chance to redeem yourself.''
Copyright ï¿½ 2005 The Associated Press