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St. Moritz, Switzerland (Feb. 6) AP — Bode Miller won his first major title Thursday, capturing the gold medal in the combined in another excellent showing by the United States at the world championships. This was Miller’s second medal in two races. He shared the silver with Hermann Maier of Austria in the opening super giant slalom.
Norwegians Lasse Kjus and Kjetil-Andre Aamodt won the silver and bronze in the combined.
After his victory, Miller crouched and held his face in his hands. He later wiped tears from his eyes. “It was such a hard race,” Miller said. “I felt I didn’t really have a chance after the downhill. I really battled in the slalom.”
Miller gave the United States its first gold medal of the two-week event – and the fourth medal overall – after only three races.
“Once you have momentum, when you get the team feeling like that, it’s contagious,” said Miller, who won the silver in the combined at the Salt Lake City Olympics. Miller’s victory came 33 years after Billy Kidd of the United States won the combined at the worlds in Val Gardena, Italy.
Kjus and Aamodt both have a record-tying 11 medals at the world championships, matching the total of Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg.
Miller capitalized on an excellent run in the second slalom heat after finishing 17th in the morning downhill. He jumped to fourth after the first slalom heat and won the gold with his outstanding second run.
“It’s the combined so anything is possible but, after the downhill I sure didn’t think it was likely,” said the 25-year-old skier from Franconia, N.H.
“But to come down and have two great slalom runs and to see this thing determined by just seven-hundredths of a second, with so many great skiers out there, it’s a great feeling to be a world champion.”
Miller had a total time of 3 minutes, 18.41 seconds. In this event, the combined times of the two slalom runs are added to the downhill time.
“I think a lot of people discount the combined but it’s a really hard race. … It’s the toughest emotionally, physically and mentally.”
Kjus finished 0.07 seconds behind and Aamodt was 0.13 off the pace. It was Kjus’ eighth silver medal at world championships.
I’ve been struggling all season, winning the downhill portion was great for my confidence,” he said. “It’s great to be second to Bode.”
Benjamin Raich of Austria, second entering the final second run, but he skidded off the course and was eliminated.
Aamodt now has 18 Olympic and world championship medals, increasing his record as the all-time Alpine skiing leader. He won the Olympic gold ahead of Miller and was three-time defending champion in the event.
“It was a tight race and I am happy; I didn’t have enough strength at the end,” Aamodt said. “A medal is a medal.”
Kjus won the combined in 1993 and was twice a silver medalist.
Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press