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Adelboden, Switzerland (AP)--Bode Miller has been helped by conditioning and improved equipment. World Cup experience has made the American a favorite in the slalom in the Salt Lake City Olympics.

The 24-year-old skier from Franconia, N.H., won his second World Cup slalom of the season in commanding style Sunday.

The leader after the opening leg, Miller dominated his second trip down the tightly-set Chuenisbaergli course to win with a two-run time of 1 minute, 33.24 seconds, 1.92 seconds ahead of runner-up Ivica Kostelic of Croatia.

``I had a couple of little bobbles but nothing that cost me any time,'' Miller said. ``This is a nasty and steep course so that's the key, being error-free. You have to stay focused.''

Miller won a night slalom in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, as well as a giant slalom in Val d'Isere, France, becoming the first American since 1983 to win in those disciplines.

``I know the World Cup hills, top to bottom,'' he said. ``I know the crowds. I just feel more comfortable.''

Miller is making a comeback after surgery to repair his right knee, injured in the downhill portion of the combined event at the world championships last February at St. Anton, Austria.

His goal this season is to win the World Cup slalom title because it rewards excellence over several months. An Olympic medal would be great, but Miller said many winners at the games are one-shot wonders.

``Either you got lucky or you ripped it up in one day,'' he said.

Kostelic, who won the season's opening race at Aspen and finished third in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, just before the Christmas break, recovered from a mistake just two gates from the finish line to get second in 1:35.16.

Slovenia's Mitja Kunc, the world championship bronze medalist in St. Anton, was third in 1:35.35.

The tough slalom course on natural snow, with its fall-away gates and numerous light-to-shade passages, claimed several skiers in both legs. After winning the first run, Miller went last on the second run.

``The good thing about running 30th is that you can see all the lines where the others have gone and when you can ski inside the lines you know you're very fast,'' Miller said.

On the first run, four of the first 12 skiers failed to negotiate the closely set gates, placed every nine yards instead of the usual 10-11 yards. Italy's Giorgio Rocca was the first casualty, followed by world silver medalist and reigning World Cup slalom champion Benjamin Raich of Austria, who veered off course just two gates from the finish.

American Erik Schlopy went out when he straddled the first gate.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press

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