Miller Takes Second at Swiss GS, Pads Overall Lead

Bode GS 01 11 05

ADELBODEN, Switzerland Jan. 11, 2005 (AP by Erica Bulman)--Bode Miller lost a pole on the first run, and nearly performed the splits near the finish on the second run. But he still somehow managed to finish second in a World Cup giant slalom on Tuesday and maintained his lead in the overall standings.

Miller, who is trying to become the first American to win the overall title since Phil Mahre in 1983, took over the top spot in the giant slalom standings by finishing runner-up Tuesday to Italy's Massimiliano Blardone.

``It was a great race today,'' Miller said. ``This kind of difficult classic really raises the level of skiing and I think we saw today some of the best skiing we've seen.

``I think that's why I was able to save myself from falling in the second run and still ski fast in the first run without my pole. This kind of competition brings out the best in everyone.''

Miller leads the overall standings with 988 points, followed by Austrians Benjamin Raich (690) and Hermann Maier (551), the overall defending champion. The U.S. skier leads the giant slalom standings with 340 points, followed by Canadian Thomas Grandi (302) and Blardone (266).

Blardone mastered bad lighting on the opening leg and massive pressure on the second to tame the Chuenisbaergli course _ one of the circuit's steepest and toughest _ and claim his first World Cup victory with a two-run time of 2 minutes, 19.84 seconds.

Miller's time was 2:20.02. Finland's Kalle Palander was third in 2:20.23.

``This is a great place for my first career victory,'' said Blardone, runner-up in the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria. ``I've always been top-10 here and Italians have done well here in the past. Finally my time has come.''

American Daron Rahlves, third after the first run, walked away from a frightening crash only a few gates from the bottom of the second run. Rahlves hit a bump at an estimated 45 mph and his knees slammed into his chest, sending him into a full backward somersault.

Miller watched from the finish area, hands over his mouth, as Rahlves crashed into safety netting. He was motionless for several moments, then got back up and crossed the finish line in his ski boots _ without his skis.

``I just have a headache,'' Rahlves said. ``I'm starting to feel a lot of sore spots now. It's like someone took a baseball bat and knocked me around. I'm a little out of it right now.

``I'm happy I'm walking. When you take a crash and get up, it's good news.''

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press