Tignes, France Nov. 1--Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) saw an opportunity for his best World Cup giant slalom vanish on the final face in the second run of Sunday's World Cup opener in Tignes. He ended up 19th behind winner Hermann Maier of Austria.
Miller was ninth after the first run, the only U.S. skier to make the second run, and trying to match or beat his career-best (twice) eight in GS. He skied an aggressive run and was a half-second up on then racer leader Josef Strobl at the final intermediate timing position. Coming out of a flat section before the final face, Miller touched down momentarily but never lost his momentum. It caught up with him a few gates later, though, when he had to sidecheck his skis hard to make a gate.
"I went into the second run thinking I would be conservative and get a finish," said Miller. "But at the 10-second signal before the start I said to myself, 'hey, you've got to go for it.' I just went for it all the way down - I wasn't going to let the fall stop me, I just thought, 'OK, now, you've REALLY got to ski the bottom to make up time. Then, a few gates later, I saw the gate going by me and really had to check up."
Dane Spencer (Boise, ID) met a similar fate in the first run, touching down on the flats but skiing incredibly aggressively on the bottom but not enough to make a second run. Chad Fleischer (Vail, CO), in his first-ever World Cup GS, was 41st.
"I just didn't let the skis run," said Fleischer. "It was really rough, but I've skied rough snow before. I just have to let the skis go down. I want to be a three-event skier this year and ski full-time on the World Cup. I have to qualify (within the team) but I plan to be in Park City."
Thomas Vonn and Paul Casey Puckett also finished the first run but failed to qualify.
The opening glacier race always provides opportunities to confirm or surprise. Hermann Maier left no doubt as to his summer preparation as he dusted the field in both runs. Much like women's overall World Cup champ Alexandra Meissnitzer of Austria, Norway's Lasse Kjus also went out in the first run.
For more FIS Alpine World Cup coverage, check out www.fis-ski.com and www.worldskireport.com.
Action now heads to Colorado for the opening of the Super Series in Winter Park Nov. 13-15, followed by the Chevy Truck America's Opening World Cup in Park City Nov. 18-21.
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