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March 17, 2007
LENZERHEIDE, SWITZERLAND – (USST News Bureau Release) – Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH) ended a two-month podium drought Saturday, producing the third-fastest final run to finish third in giant slalom at World Cup Finals as Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal reclaimed the World Cup overall lead. Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) was 10th.
WCSN.com will broadcast an eight-hour block of same-day video streaming from World Cup Finals with women’s slalom coverage at noon and 4 p.m. ET and men’s GS coverage at 2 and 6 p.m. ET.
Svindal, who won the gold medal in GS at the 2007 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships last month in Sweden, was second in the first run, one-hundredth of a second behind Italy’s Max Blardone. He had a two-run time of 2:07.82 to also capture the World Cup GS title. Blardone sputtered on his second run and finished second in 2:08.03 and second overall in GS.
First podium since Wengen for U.S. men
Defending overall champion Benjamin Raich of Austria, normally one of the most reliable gate-runners in alpine, skied out in the first run, opening the door wide to Svindal retaking the overall points lead in addition to winning the GS crystal globe. With one race remaining, Svindal leads with 1,252 points to 1,155 for Raich and, even if Raich wins the SL, the Norwegian needs to finish no lower than 15th Sunday to claim the overall crown.
Miller, seventh in the first run, finished in 2:08.49 with Ligety timed in 2:09.70. It was Miller’s first top-3 since he won the Lauberhorn downhill Jan. 13 in Wengen, Switzerland, for the 25th win of his career, leaving him two shy of Phil Mahre’s U.S. mark for victories.
“My second run was all right. I still had a lot of sloppy turns in there,” Miller said, “but in general it feels a lot better.”
He said his skis “ran the way I’ve been wanting the skis to feel all year. It’s exciting.”
John McBride, the men’s combined coach who came out of retirement last spring to work intensively with him, said Miller was getting used to a new pressure plate on his skis in the first run. “Bode had some issues on his first run, working with that new plate. He struggled at the top for maybe 10 gates and then he found his rhythm. The second run was nearly the same set and Bode adjusted nicely, then he skied smart and hammered it.”
Five consecutive seasons of 10 or more podiums
He also praised Svindal “for handling that second-run pressure to get by Benni and to get by Blardone” for the giant slalom championship. “He was so tough. What a rock star!”
Miller added Svindal manages his risks well, in line with the style put forth by the recently retired Norwegian greats Lasse Kjus and Kjetil Andre Aamodt, each former World Cup overall champion. “He skis a lot like Lasse and Aamodt did – they don’t take a lot of risks. I don’t ski like that but I understand how it works,” Miller, the 2005 overall champion, said.
Head Coach Phil McNichol noted the podium is the 10th of the season for the men’s team, a string of five straight seasons with double-digit top-3s. “We’ll take every one. We’re not giving back any podiums,” he said.
The men’s slalom Sunday is the final race of the World Cup calendar for 2007. Miller and Ligety will be competing. First run is 4 a.m. with second run at 6:30 a.m. ET.