Kitzbuehel, Austria (AP Erica Bullman)--Bode Miller is gaining a reputation for being a comeback specialist--capable of coming from far behind to surprise opponents.
Miller was seventh after the opening leg of a men's World Cup slalom Sunday after breaking 6 inches off the bottom of his ski pole. But he came back in the second run to finish third, behind winner Rainer Schoenfelder and Austrian teammate Kilian Albrecht, who similarly produced stunning second efforts to end up on the podium.
``With the way the guys skied today and my mistake in the first run, I'm just happy to be on the podium,'' said Miller, who last weekend in the slalom in Wengen climbed back from 19th after the first leg and finished sixth.
The 24-year-old American was seventh in the initial leg, trailing by .38, after planting one of his poles between his skis and breaking 6 inches off near the top of the course.
But Miller remained on his feet and on course, despite a radical change in swing weight.
``I thought I skied pretty well considering all that,'' said Miller, after his fifth podium finish of the season in the discipline. ``You don't train with a broken pole, and it's a different feeling. I was definitely feeling awkward.
``It was a stupid mistake. I was .38 behind after the first leg and that mistake cost me two or three times that. I could have been fastest in the first run.''
That wouldn't have been unusual.
Miller has won seven runs this season and three World Cup races in total, two in the slalom and one in giant slalom. American technical coach Martin Anderson, who compiles a videos of winning runs, said he doesn't remember anyone ever posting as many as Miller, and no one has even come close since Alberto Tomba was at his peak in 1995.
But for Miller, being fastest in a run means little if it doesn't result in victory.
``It does (give me confidence),'' Miller said. ``Winning runs is important, but winning races is what counts. Despite my winning runs this season I have only three World Cup wins. I think I have 14 winning runs total and only three World Cup wins.
``That's really not proportional compared to most athletes who have World Cup victories. There's a lot of guys who have a handful of winning runs but a bunch of World Cup wins. In a sense it's potential and in a sense it's a failure of mine.''
Nevertheless, Miller sits second in the World Cup slalom standings, 71 points behind Croatia's Ivica Kostelic. He's also third with 720 points in the overall rankings, behind leader Stephan Eberharter of Austria, who has 1,032, and Norway's Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who has 822.
``The season so far has been pretty much a lot of near misses,'' Miller said. ``For me personally, it's more of a glimpse of what's possible and what I'm capable of and the direction I'm going in rather than looking at all my success all at once.''
Miller and the rest of the field have one final slalom Tuesday under the floodlights of Schladming, Austria, to tune up before the start of the Olympics in February.
``It's an easy race to get excited about,'' Miller said. ``It's a great hill, too, but it's been unfriendly to me. I've had great split times. It's a hill I should do well on, a challenging one with the steeps. But I just haven't.''
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