Val d'Isere, France, Dec. 17, 2000--"We finally got it," an exuberant U.S. Coach Jesse Hunt yippedSunday after Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) hung-up the fastest second run to move up 17 spots tohis first podium - third place - in a World Cup giant slalom. Michael Von Gruenigen, the stylishSwiss great, also surged on the second run to collect the 18th victory of his career.
"So many fourths and now we finally got there, finally got someone on the podium," said Hunt,the head slalom/GS coach. "Bode was simply awesome on that second run."
Added Miller, "I'm smiling. It was fun on that second run."
Von Gruenigen, one of the greatest GS skiers in history, moved up a notch on the second run to finish with a total time of 2:31.33 with first-run leader Heinz Schilchegger in second place at2:31.92. Coincidentally, they were the two winners a month ago during the Chevy Truck America's Opening in Park City, Utah, when theSwiss won the giant slalom and Schilchegger bagged his first win two days later in slalom.
Miller, tied for 20th after the first run, tore the second run apart. His time was nearly a half-second (.49) faster than everyone. Hisfinal time, as he posted his third top-10 of the season, was 2:31.98. Erik Schlopy (Park City), who also broke into the top 10 for thethird time in a month, was eighth in 2:32.64.
Behind those two were two other U.S. skiers: Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) in 19th with a time of 2:33.35 and Thomas Vonn(Newurgh, NY) picking up his first points of the winter as he tied for 22nd with a 2:33.54 clocking.
It was Miller's nearly flawless second run that left folks gasping...and smiling. After a pair of fourth-place results two years ago inslalom from Miller and Schlopy's fourth at Park City in GS, the podium performance was even more tasty, the coach said.
"Bode laid down a sweet run - the fastest time, a half-second ahead of everyone - and it was so much fun to watch," Hunt said. "It wasa lot like Adelboden Switzerland - 199, when Miller also had the fastest second run and was eighth in a GS where everyone wasbunched together after the first run and he took charge. He did it again today."
"It's the first time I've run a smooth course in I don't know how long," Miller said. "I've been running in the 30s and 40s, so this wasnice. I had a chance to really attack and see what I can do. I've been skiing fast enough and well enough for a while, so it was nice toget the chance to do something with it...
"I didn't ski as clean as I wanted. I made a mistake in the middle, but I skied the top and the bottom really well," added. "It's nice to beable to pit it down when it's crunch time. I certainly wasn't satisfied with 20 place." His second-run time was 1:15.89; next fastestwas Von Gruenigen's 1:16.38.
Speed Work Paying Off
Twenty-sixth in a downhill Saturday, he agreed with Hunt's assessment that he's been able to play off Schlopy's success and theincreased super G and downhill training and racing have given Miller's GS a boost. The down side, Miller explained, is that as he workedon being more of a four-event racer, something has had to give, and that's been his slalom. But now, being more comfortable on his newbrand of skis (Fischer), Miller plans to tweak it enough to bring it up to speed, too.
"Watching Erik was good. Our styles and tactics are a lot different," he said, "but he skied a solid first run Schlopy was ninth after themorning run and to see that gave me some confidence, for sure. ...I came in to the second run ready to win.
"Now, I've got to get my slalom going. I just need a little more time training and I'll get my skis figured out. In slalom, you can win arace from anywhere, as long as you get that second run. I'm definitely heading in the right direction with my skiing," said the grad fromMaine's Carrabassett Valley Academy.
Maier DQ'd (twice)
There were two other surprises to the day: First, unheralded Italian Massimiliano Blardone started 61st and finished the first runeighth, and finished sixth overall.
Second, in a pre-race decision, the jury disqualified Austrian superstar Hermann Maier, the defending World Cup overall and GS (and DHand super G) champion, for staying past the deadline for inspecting the course. After the race, officials said he also had been fined$15,000 and DQ'd from the upcoming GS Thursday in Bormio, Italy, because he skied through the Val d'Isere course without approval ashort time before the race at high speed.
The Cafe de Colombia schedule moves to Madonna diCampiglio, Italy, for a slalom Tuesday and then the GS in Bormio Thursday. Theraces were shifted from snowless Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
Bode Miller photo by Patrick Lang
CAFE de COLOMBIA WORLD CUP Val d'Isere, FRA - Dec. 17
Men's GS-2 (Shifted from Alta Badia, ITA)
1. Michael Von Gruenigen, Switzerland, 2:31.33
2. Heinz Schilchegger, Austria, 2:31.92
3. Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H., 2:31.98
4. Fredric Covilli, France, 2:32.35
5. Andreas Schifferer, Austria, 2:32.37
6. Massimiliano Blardone, Italy, 2:32.40
7. Benjamin Raich, Austria, 2:32.45
8. Erik Schlopy, Park City, Utah, 2:32.64
9. Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein, 2:32.69
10. Didier Defago, Switzerland, 2:32.77
11. Hans Knauss, Austria, 2:32.80
12. Paul Accola, Switzerland, 2:33.00
13. Vincent Miller, France, 2:33.01
14. Fredrik Nyberg, Sweden, 2:33.11
15. Sami Uotila, Finland, 2:33.26
16. Josef Strobl, Austria, 2:33.29
17. Davide Simoncelli, Italy, 2:33.33
18. Jernej Rebersak, Slovenia, 2:33.34
19. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, Calif., 2:33.35
20. Bjarne Solbakken, norway, 2:33.43
21. Jeff Piccard, France, 2:33.51
22. (tie) Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, N.Y., and Alessandro Roberto, Italy, 2:33.54
24. Christian Mayer, Austria, 2:33.55
25. Rainer Salzgeber, Austria, 2:33.56
26. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 2:33.59
27. Raphael Burtin, France, 2:33.71
28. Uros Pavlovcic, Slovenia, 2:34.06
29. Mitja Kunc, Slovenia, 2:35.28
Did not qualify: Casey Puckett, Aspen, Colo.; Chip Knight, New Canaan, Conn.; Sacha Gros, Vail, Colo.
Cafe de Colombia World Cup
Men's Overall (12 races)
1. Hermann Maier, Austria, 631 points
2. (tie). Stephan Eberharter, Austria, and Lasse Kjus, Norway, 409 each
4. Von Gruenigen, 342
5. Schifferer, 333
6. Nyberg, 315
7. Schilchegger, 312
8. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway, 240 10. Cuche, 203
11. Knauss, 187
12. Christoph Gruber, Austria, 168
13. Silvano Beltrametti, Switzerland, 160 15. Buechel, 151
18. Miller, 140
24. Schlopy, 121
28. Chad Fleischer, Vail, Colo., 101
29. Rahlves, 90
75. Casey Puckett, 20
86. Chris Puckett, Boulder, Colo., 14
97. Dane Spencer, Boise, Idaho, 11
103. Vonn, 9
113. Brett Fischer, Winter Park, Colo., 2
Men's GS (4 races)
1. Von Gruenigen, 300
2. Maier, 260
3. Schilchegger, 212
4. Schifferer, 145
5. Nyberg, 140
6. Miller, 126
7. Mayer, 117
8. Buechel, 116
9. Schlopy, 111 - 32. Casey Puckett, 18
39. Spencer, 11
40. Vonn, 9