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Miller 3rd in Kitzbuehel Slalom


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Kitzbuehel, Austria, Jan. 20, 2002–Quick-footed Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) overcame first run troubles with a broken ski pole Sunday and, calling it “as big a battle as any of my three wins, moved up four spots to finish third in the slalom concluding Hahnenkamm Weekend behind two Austrians. Tom Rothrock (Cashmere, WA) was 16th for the best World Cup result of his young career.

ESPN will televise coverage of the slalom today at 6 p.m. EST.

When first-run leaders Mitja Kunc of Slovenia and Croatian Ivica Kostelic ran into problems on their second run, Austrian Rainer Schoenfelder cruised to victory in 1:36.88. Kilian Albrecht, who has trained with Vermont’s Green Mountain School racing program, was second in 1:37.07 with Miller, seventh in the first run after briefly jamming a ski pole between his legs, finished third, just two-hundredths of a second behind Albrecht.

Rothrock, the only other U.S. athlete to reach the second run, posted the second top-30 of his career, finishing 16th in 1:38.53. The final pre-Olympic slalom will be Tuesday night in Schladming.

Miller jammed a ski pole between his legs perhaps 20 seconds into his first run, snapping off the basket and about six inches of pole. He somehow kept his balance — “there must’ve 10 or 15 places where I lost two-tenths of a second here and two there,” he recalled — and came down seventh.

“I think the level of skiing was really high today,” Miller said. “I mean, Kostelic and Kunc are skiing some of the very best in the world…

“We had two courses that were tremendously different — the first run was on the difficult side and the second run was on the easier side. …The first run was a great course and without the mistake, putting that pole between my legs up top, I think I could’ve had a good lead after the first run,” Miller went on. “The second run was just a grinder, slow speeds…and just a grinder.”

The Carrabassett Valley Academy product, who has won three World Cup races (two slalom, one GS) this season, added, “The two courses really didn’t suit me and it was as big a battle as any of my wins. When guys are skiing well like these guys did, you can’t control it. I just got beat by some great skiing.

“This was awesome. This is the biggest hill on the World Cup.”

World slalom champion Mario Matt seriously injured his right shoulder during the race and official said later he would be sidelined indefinitely for either a separated or fractured shoulder, putting in doubt whether he could compete at the Olympics next month. Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won the combined calculation for the weekend, mixing Sunday’s slalom and Saturday’s Hahnenkamm downhill, with teammate Lasse Kjus second and Michael Walchhofer of Austria third. No Americans competed in the combined. The men move on to Schladming for the night slalom Tuesday. The Olympic Team will be named Jan. 28 after the weekend races in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Hahnenkamm Weekend
Kitzbuehel, AUT – Jan. 20
Men’s Slalom
1. Rainer Schoenfelder, Austria, 1:36.88
2. Kilian Albrecht, Austria, 1:37.07
3. Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H., 1:37.09
4. Giorgio Rocca, Italy, 1:37.41
5. Manfred Pranger, Austria, 1:37.60

16. Tom Rothrock, Cashmere, Wash., 1:38.53

Did not qualify for 2nd run: Chip Kight, Stowe, Vt.
DNF-1: Erik Schlopy, Park City, Utah; Casey Puckett, Aspen, Colo.; Sacha Gros, Vail, Colo.