When slalom and GS specialist Bode Miller won the downhill and super G at Lake Louise last November, he joined the ranks of a mere four others-Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Pirmin Zurbriggen, Guenther Mader, and Marc Girardelli-who have won a World Cup race in all five disciplines. (The fifth discipline is the combined, which Bode won in 2003.) Then, during December's Birds of Prey races at Beaver Creek, Colorado, Miller snagged another first in downhill and a second in super G-and silenced anyone who'd uttered the word "fluke."
How did the technical maestro suddenly get so fast? Miller, who recently switched from Rossignol to Atomic equipment, chalks it up to experience and nuances. "Although I haven't changed training much, every year I make minor adjustments depending on the previous year," he says.Coach Johno McBride offers up another explanation. "The boots-the alignment and ramp angle-allow him to ski with a wider stance," he says. "So his tuck is more aerodynamic and balanced than ever before, and he's changed the way he's done his gliding. Plus, he really puts the coals to it in training."
At press time, Miller's early season streak-at one point he had 480 points to Hermann Maier's 274-naturally had ski-racing fans fired up about a possible overall World Cup title (he was runner-up in '03), the first for the States since Phil Mahre won in 1983. But, says McBride, "It seems a long way off, and mistakes can happen. I'm not losing too much sleep over it-he's got a great shot at winning." Miller shares his coach's cautious optimism, noting that he has more than 400 World Cup races under his speedsuit: "I'm not a rookie, you know."
To get an inside take on Miller's World Cup quest, tune in to The Bode Show-a mix of racer interviews, music, and ski buzz-on Sirius Satellite Radio, Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET (siruis.com).