ALTA BADIA, Italy, Dec. 14, 2003 (AP by Andrew Dampf) -- Bode Miller is a pretty good judge of talent. After posting the fastest first run in Sunday's World Cup giant slalom, Miller watched Kalle Palander navigate the course.
"You might want to watch this," Miller said. "Palander will probably win this."
The Finn did just that, edging Miller for the best first run, then laying back slightly in the second leg for his first giant slalom victory in a combined time of 2 minutes, 30.57 seconds.
Miller, who won the season's first two giant slaloms, finished 1.12 seconds back in fourth place, behind Davide Simoncelli of Italy and Frederic Covili of France.
"My goal for this season, or this career, was a podium finish in giant slalom," Palander said. "It was the first time in my career that I was leading after the first run of a giant slalom. I know the feeling from slalom, but when Bode Miller is behind you, it's not nice."
Overall World Cup leader Hermann Maier fell midway through his second run, but appeared unhurt and was joking after he got back up and skied down to the finish area. He still leads the overall standings.
Palander's best previous finish in a giant slalom was fifth in Park City on Nov. 22. He is better known for his slalom success, winning four races to take the World Cup title in that discipline last season. He also won the opening slalom of this season in Park City on Nov. 23.
Palander said he is not about to become an all-around specialist and race all four disciplines like Miller.
"I'm a crazy guy, but I'm too old for that," Palander said. "My last super-G was in 1999 and I almost killed myself."
Sunday's race originally was scheduled for Val d'Isere but was moved to Italy because of lack of snow at the French resort.
© 2000 The Associated Press