ADELBODEN, Switzerland Jan. 11, 2005 (USSA) - World Cup leader Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) padded his overall points lead Tuesday finishing second in giant slalom at the World Cup's annual midweek stop in Adelboden, and with an estimated 15,000 fans watching. Italy's Massimiliano Blardone won the race, finishing at 2:19.84 - +0.18. ahead of Miller. Dane Spencer (Boise, ID) finished 17th.
"This was a World Cup race to remember," said Miller, a six-time World Cup winner this season with three other podiums."Today we saw pieces of the best skiing the world has ever seen. It takes a really challenging hill to bring out such great skiing and great skiers. The classic hills like Adelboden really know how to put on a race, and it was greeat to be out there."
Miller, who stands first in overall World Cup rankings at 1631, was pleased with his performance despite two "huge mistakes": During the first run, he lost a ski pole on the upper portion of the narrow, icy course but still finished fourth; then was late for a gate at the bottom of his second run and estimated he lost two-to three-tenths of a second at the finish. Miller attributed his mistakes - and his recovery from them - to the return of his favorite skis which were damaged when he hit a rock in Alta Badia, Italy, in December.
He rode the skis to victory in Soelden, Austria, at the season-opener then again in Val d'Isere, France."I was happy I got to break those skis out again," Miller said. "The problem is that they are so much different - they are faster - than any of the other skis I've been on since and I just wasn't used to them."
The skis particularly came into play during the second run near the bottom when he hooked his inside edge while transitioning through a turn and lost some speed. Luckily, explained Miller, he was in the air at the time and could adjust his skis back under him before putting them back on the ground.
"I was super psyched to make that recovery and make that next gate," said Miller.
Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA), looking to add giant slalom points in his bid to be the overall World Cup champion, tore through the first GS run in third place, and was leading the second run but tumbled into the netting by the second-to-last gate. He skated over the finish line in his ski boots to the roaring applause of the fans. Miller called it "surreal" and said it was one of the most spectacular crashes he had ever seen. Unfortunately, noted Miller, Rahlves was going faster than anyone at the time.
"We were staring double podiums in the face today for sure," said Mike Morin, men's SL/GS head coach. "Capturing that double podium is impressive, but elusive. What's more impressive is having three to four guys in GS who are gunning for podiums at the World Championships. We've never had that before."
Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT) also lost a ski pole - his right one - in the first run and finished outside the top 30. Schlopy said losing his pole didn't knock him off balance, but without it he had a hard time reading the snow, which was frustrating. "It's a bummer Erik went out," said Morin. "He really came out attacking."
MEN'S ALPINE WORLD CUP
Adelboden, SUI - Jan. 11, 2005
Men's Giant Slalom
1. Massimiliano Blardone, Italy, 2:19.84
2. Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H., 2:20.02
3. Kalle Palander, Finland, 2:20.23
4. Benjamin Raich, Austria, 2:20.54
5. Lasse Kjus, Norway, 2:20.66
17. Dane Spencer, Boise, Idaho, 2:21.83
Did not qualify for 2nd run:
Jimmy Cochran, Keane, N.H., Tom Rothrock, Cashmere, Wash., Erik Schlopy, Park City, Utah
DNF 2nd run
Daron Rahlves, Sugarbowl, Calif.
For complete results: