SOELDEN, Austria (USST report) - Olympic silver medalist Bode Miller (Franconia, NH)started the World Cup season with another do-or-die routine Sunday, surviving alost pole on his first run and a near-spill on his second to finish fifth in theopening giant slalom on the Rettenbach Glacier. No other U.S. skier made thesecond run as defending World Cup champion Stephan Eberharter of Austria, threetimes second in Soelden, edged Frederick Covili for the victory.
"It was really fun," Miller, who skied No. 1 among the 77 racers, said after hissurvival routine in the gusting winds. "For sure, the second run I gave away abunch of time on the road and probably didn't need to take as much risk. But it was encouraging - I tookthe risk in the right place and it just barely didn't work out.
"When you take a risk, and it's a pretty obvious risk and it doesn't go your way- and I still ended up fifth, real close, it's good," he said.
Organizers, who delayed the women's GS for about two hours because of high windsSunday, moved the start for the men's second run down the mountain to ensurethey finished the season-opener for the men. Eberharter, skiing second, led thefirst run - with Miller, despite losing a pole when he hooked a gate just belowthe road - and finished with a total time of 1:49.47 with Covili, who won here ayear ago en route to capturing the World Cup GS title, second in 1:49.60. Swissgreat Michael Von Gruenigen was third, Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway fourth andMiller fifth in 1:49.92.
Miller, skiing next to last on the final run in the flip-30 format, said thetricky light just as he attempted to gun his speed, almost cost him on thesecond run. In Soelden, the first run is held in sunshine but by afternoon, thesun is behind the mountains and the course is in shade.
"I had the win right there; it would've been a little roll of the dice to takeless risk and try to win," Miller said. "There wasn't any way to make up on thebottom of the run; I needed to make it up on the top. If I could do it again, Ithink I'd take it again. It was flat light, though - I couldn't see, it wasreally bumpy.
"It was swirling wind. First run, I got hammered out of the start, about thesecond gate I just got slammed, but I made up about five-tenths of a second onthe bottom. For sure, second run I gave away a bunch of time on the road. But,it was fun and it's encouraging," said Miller, cwho also was fifth a year ago inthe Soelden opener as he rebounded from knee surgery and - with four World Cupwins (three in slalom, one in GS) plus a pair of Olympic silver medals (GS,combined) - posted the best U.S. man's season since Phil Mahre won the overallWorld Cup title in 1983.
But despite Miller's performance, the seven other U.S. men struggled. Men's HeadCoach Phil McNichol and SL/GS Head Coach Martin Andersen said they wereencouraged by Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), who despite starting 54th, wasbound for a second run before he crashed at the bottom of his run, and JakeZamansky (Carbondale, CO), who made his World Cup debut.
"They're disappointed. This was quite a wake-up call for them, especially theexperienced guys," Andersen said. "They have to get their race head on, and theyknow it."
"I want the guys to process was occurred soc they can learn from it&the processof what happened at the race, how you respond, how you process all of it forgrowth the next time," McNichol said. "This isn't like football where you kickthe water bucket over at halftime in the locker room, then go back out and makecorrections.
"You just have to be on the hill to see how much better these guys can ski, andthey know it. Fortunately, we've got a couple of weeks to make adjustments - andwe will make those adjustments."
The U.S. team competes next in the Nature Valley Cup races - giant slaloms Nov.13-14 and slaloms Nov. 16-17 at Colorado's Loveland Basin Ski Area - with theWorld Cup resuming Nov. 21-24 at the Chevy Truck America's Opening at Park CityMountain Ressort, the 2002 Olympic GS venue in Utah. Men and women will each raceGS and slalom.
MEN'S ALPINE WORLD CUP
Soelden, AUT Oct. 27
Rank Fiscode Name Nation Run 1 Run 2 Total time FIS points
1 50024 EBERHARTER Stephan AUT 59.89 49.58 1:49.47 0.00
2 190236 COVILI Frederic FRA 1:00.27 49.33 1:49.60 1.02
3 510318 VON GRUENIGEN Michael SUI 1:00.21 49.54 1:49.75 2.20
4 420382 AAMODT Kjetil Andre NOR 1:00.55 49.27 1:49.82 2.75
5 532431 MILLER Bode USA 1:00.00 49.92 1:49.92 3.54
6 500139 NYBERG Fredrik SWE 1:00.75 49.38 1:50.13 5.18
7 292000 BLARDONE Massimiliano ITA 1:01.21 49.20 1:50.41 7.38
8 510030 CUCHE Didier SUI 1:00.98 49.54 1:50.52 8.25
9 510727 DEFAGO Didier SUI 1:00.62 49.97 1:50.59 8.80
10 50451 GRUBER Christoph AUT 1:01.42 49.27 1:50.69 9.58
11 50271 SCHILCHEGGER Heinz AUT 1:02.03 48.81 1:50.84 10.76
12 190707 MILLET Vincent FRA 1:00.90 50.01 1:50.91 11.31
13 190677 CHENAL Joel FRA 1:01.04 50.13 1:51.17 13.36
14 50688 MARINAC Martin AUT 1:02.15 49.05 1:51.20 13.59
15 50124 SCHIFFERER Andreas AUT 1:01.22 50.04 1:51.26 14.06
16 50547 SCHOENFELDER Rainer AUT 1:01.63 49.68 1:51.31 14.46
17 420911 SOLBAKKEN Bjarne NOR 1:01.68 49.67 1:51.35 14.77
18 560050 PAVLOVCIC Uros SLO 1:02.17 49.22 1:51.39 15.08
18 420470 KJUS Lasse NOR 1:01.91 49.48 1:51.39 15.08 20 50360 KNAUSS Hans AUT 1:01.06 50.34 1:51.40 15.16
21 291421 RIEDER Arnold ITA 1:02.17 49.53 1:51.70 17.52
21 100115 GRANDI Thomas CAN 1:02.26 49.44 1:51.70 17.52
21 50126 MAYER Christian AUT 1:01.98 49.72 1:51.70 17.52
24 101895 ROY Jean-Philippe CAN 1:02.28 49.43 1:51.71 17.60
25 50149 STROBL Josef AUT 1:02.12 49.85 1:51.97 19.64
26 191139 VIDAL Jean-Pierre FRA 1:01.61 50.37 1:51.98 19.72
27 290693 PLONER Alexander ITA 1:02.18 49.91 1:52.09 20.58
28 291768 ROBERTO Alessandro ITA 1:01.97 50.31 1:52.28 22.08
29 380260 KOSTELIC Ivica CRO 1:02.08 50.35 1:52.43 23.25
Did not finish 1st run:
HOLZER Patrick (ITA), SCHIEPPATI Alberto (ITA), UOTILA Sami (FIN), RAHLVES Daron (USA), BECIRBEGOVIC Enis (BIH), VAN DEN BOGAERT Jeroen (BEL)
Did not finish 2nd run:
RAICH Benjamin (AUT)
Disqualified 2nd run:
GRUENENFELDER Tobias (SUI)
Did not qualify 1st run:
KNIGHT Chip (USA), ERTL Andreas (GER), SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier (ARG), BURTIN Raphael (FRA), KARLSEN Truls Ove (NOR), DEFAGO Daniel (SUI), HOFER Beni (SUI), SAIONI Christophe (FRA), RECH Freddy (FRA), KOSIR Jure (SLO), ROTHROCK Tom (USA), GUFLER Michael (ITA), BUECHEL Marco (LIE), SCHLOPY Erik (USA), COGOLI Patrick (ITA), DE TESSIERES Gauthier (FRA), SIMONCELLI Davide (ITA), GOERGL Stephan (AUT), VONN Thomas (USA), PICCARD Jeff (FRA), KOBLAR Jernej (SLO), SPENCER Dane (USA), COUSINEAU Julien (CAN), ZAMANSKY Jake (USA), DRAGSIC Mitja (SLO), PALANDER Kalle (FIN), FILL Peter (ITA), PAULSEN Lasse (NOR), VOGT Achim (LIE), ZAHROBSKY Petr (CZE), JAERBYN Patrik (SWE), CASANOVA Marco (SUI), OTAKI Tetsuya (JPN), VIIRRET Tommi (FIN), SASAKI Akira (JPN), KOMAROV Sergeij (RUS), GEORGIEV Stefan (BUL), ALBERTSEN Johnny (DAN), RAJCAN Michal (SVK), DRYGIN Andrei (TJK)