VAL GARDENA, Italy (Dec. 20) USST - In an "attack from the back" super G, Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) tied for sixth Friday, leading three Americans into the top 20 behind Didier Defago of Switzerland, who earned his first World Cup victory. Fifteen of the top 30 - and two of the top six - came from beyond the 30th start with temperatures near 30.
Defago finished in 1:38.11 with Austrian Hannes Reichelt, who came into the season without having scored a World Cup point, second at 1:38.22. Miller tied for sixth in 1:38.76 while Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) - starting 45th - was 15th, No. 62 start Jake Fiala (Frisco, CO) earned the first top-20 of his career in 20th place, and Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) tied for 27th.
"The big deal," said U.S. men's speed Head Coach John McBride, "is the light. The sun doesn't come out until the racers in the late 20s are coming. So, from the 30s on, the light on the bottom, where it's difficult and nasty, is sunny and beautiful. Bode went 15th and he kicked ass in that section (i.e., lower half of the course) and it was full dark, in the shade. He did a really good job.
"And Marco made some big mistakes, so what he did with his skiing, to get where he ended in 15th place, I was pretty happy. Eliminate some of those mistakes and he's top 10. 'D' (Rahlves) made a huge mistake in the middle by the Camel Bumps - in the flat, and it cost him; he dropped from ninth at the split to 55th, then ratcheted his way back up...
"This was Jake's best performance ever and I think he had a little more in his tank. He skied well but Jake didn't lay it on the ground. He's moving up little by little," McBride said.
Considering Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT) 32nd as he edges his way back in super G and Thomas Vonn's struggle, the coach said he was pleased with the results. "All, it was a good day. I want to get my big race horse (Rahlves) going, but we're moving forward...moving forward."
The men race a downhill Saturday and a giant slalom Sunday in Alta Badia before a break for the holidays.
FIS ALPINE WORLD CUP RESULTS
Val Gardena, ITA - Dec. 20
Men's Super G
1. Didier Defago, Switzerland, 1:38.11
2. Hannes Reichelt, Austrian, 1:38.11
3. Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein, 1:38.49
4. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway, 1:38.65
5. Bruno Kernen, Switzerland, 1:38.69
6. (tie) Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway, and Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 1:38.76
15. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, CA, 1:39.16
20. Jake Fiala, Frisco, CO, 1:39.51
27T. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, CA, 1:39.77
32. Erik Schlopy, Park City, UT, 1:39.90
57. Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, NY, 1:41.62
World Cup Standings (11 races)
1. Stephan Eberharter, Austria, 548 points
2. Aamodt, 351
3. Defago, 338
4. Miller, 321
5. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 306
34. Rahlves, 81
36. Chip Knight, Stowe, VT, 76
38. Sullivan, 74
44T. Schlopy, 58
63T. Fiala, 29
69T. Vonn, 24
81. Tom Rothrock, Cashmere, WA, 17
98T. Dane Spencer, Boise, ID, 9
Super G (3 races)
1. (tie) Cuche and Buechel, 180 each
3. Defago, 166
4. Aamodt, 136
5. (tie) Miller and Eberharter, 116 each
21. SullivaN, 34
28. Vonn, 20
29. Fiala, 16
41. Schlopy, 9
49. Rahlves, 4