WENGEN, Switzerland Jan. 13, 2007 (USSA Release)—Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH) blazed through the longest downhill on the World Cup tour Saturday, leading at every checkpoint and hitting nearly 90 mph at one stretch to capture the 77th Lauberhorn, succeeding retired U.S. Ski Team speed legend and last year's winner, Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA).
Miller's 25th World Cup victory, his fourth this season, puts him two behind Phil Mahre. WCSN.com will have same-day video streaming at 4 p.m. ET.
"I took a huge amount of risk in some places and made it stick, so I feel good about that," Miller said in the finish area. Temperatures were in the mid-30s (+3 C.) and the strong sun softened the track; 11 skiers - a high number for a downhill - failed to finish their run.
He tore out of the start and rolled down the 4.48K course like an avalanche, gathering steam all the way. He was .32 ahead at the first interval, .43 at the second, then .56, .89 - hitting 144.4 kph (89.73 mph) through a speed trap, and finally 1.47 ahead when he crashed across the finish line. The Carrabassett Valley Academy grad's winning time was 2:28.89 with Swiss racer Didier Cuche second (2:29.54). Steven Nyman (Provo, UT) was 11th.
Miller learned from Rahlves' win"I watched Daron win here last year and was pretty impressed - the way he skied and his intensity. After the training run (Thursday - where Cuche led and Miller was 17th) I knew I would have a hard time with it. It's hard physically and hard mentally," Miller said.
"When I kicked out of the gate, I had the full intention of winning every section. I pushed everything the whole way down. To make the finish as I did (shaving nearly 1.5 seconds off the leader's time) was awesome," he said.
Miller skied 26th and in a bizarre episode, Austrian champion Michael Walchhofer, running 30th and the last serious challenger for him, stumbled out of the gate and skied off course after dislodging the timing equipment and causing a brief delay.
The sheer length of the course is demanding, Miller explained, but when the snow is soft - so soft Friday's race was canceled - and the sun is shining, it becomes even tougher. And then there are the sporadic places where it's icy in the shade, he said.
"It's hard, how physically tiring the course is. You ski back on your tails and you use more strength, and when you go from the sun to the shade, you also move to the back of the ski and that's tiring," Miller told reporters. "They did a great job to get this race off with this little snow...and I'm pretty happy they did."[pagebreak]
Big spill after rocketing across the finish line
He crashed at the end of the track where there is a jump before the finish area. Saturday, he said, "I skied that straighter. I carried a huge amount of speed to the finish...
"All the parts I needed to do well I did well in," he said. "I've been close to winning here but have missed it, in my mind, for mental errors. It's unbelievably taxing. You just have to overpower your body and give it a try (in the final stretch). You're absolutely getting bad messages from your body to not make any more turns. Your body is saying 'Go straight'...I was gonna come off that last jump and go straight for the finish and then get on my butt (to slow down) as fast as I could."
"It was impressive, the way he went after it," said Head Coach Phil McNichol. "Bode came out of the start and he was rolling right away. He held a clinic on how to ski the Lauberhorn."
The triumph was his fourth in downhill, his first in any venue outside of North America. Mahre, the all-time winningest U.S. skier, had 27 victories - all in slalom, giant slalom and combined - before retiring in 1984.
"Bode did a fantastic job all through the top part and then the super G turns in the middle are where he must've been flying. Then he skied very aggressively on the bottom, especially for the bottom of a 22:30 downhill. He just laid one down; it was fantastic," said Men's DH Head Coach Chris Brigham.
Brigham: Overall points scrap heats up
"And he's skiing good slalom, and he's fired-up so that could mean a big bounce-back tomorrow for combined. He's definitely fired-up, though, with the overall (points race) a tight game with him."
Miller, the 2005 overall champion, stands third overall with 640 points; he leads the super G points. Cuche is second overall at 651 and Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal, who was eighth in the Lauberhorn race, leads with 671.
Brigham said he was highly impressed by Nyman's run. "It was fantastic for Steven - his second time here, and he struggled in the training run the others day, but he really took care of business today," the coach said.
Organizers announced a change in the Lauberhorn Weekend schedule. Instead of a slalom Sunday, the men will race the super combined - a shortened downhill and one run of slalom - which was torpedoed Friday by soft snow conditions.
ALPINE MEN'S WORLD CUP
77th Lauberhorn Downhill
Wengen, SUI - Jan. 13, 2007
1. Bode Miller, Bretton Woods, NH, 2:28.89
2. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 2:29.54
3. Peter Fill, Italy, 2:30.36
4. Ambrosi Hoffmann, Switzerland, 2:30.45
5. Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein, 2:30.50
11. Steven Nyman, Provo, UT, 2:31.14
31. Ted Ligety, Park City, UT, 2:33.43
36. Scott Macartney, Redmond, WA, 2:34.11
37. JJ Johnson, Park City, UT, 2:34.59
48. T.J. Lanning, Park City, UT, 2:35.33
Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, CA