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Palander Wins Giant Slalom In Rainy Switzerland


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Adelboden, Switzerland Feb. 7, 2004 — Bode Miller (Franconia, NH), second in the first run, skied out in a snow squall Saturday during the second run of a giant slalom won by Finn Kalle Palander. Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) turned-in the best GS result of his career, finishing 12th with Dane Spencer (Boise, ID) 13th in a mix of snow, rain and tough visibility.

The first run was delayed nearly two hours because of rain and snow, and then the second run was pushed back an hour because of the weather. As Miller got set to run, looking to protect his lead in the giant slalom standings, snow fell harder.

Unseen snow hole ends podium run
With a chance to gain on the World Cup points leaders, Miller made it halfway through the second run before hitting a hole and going out; he got back on course but then pulled it over after several more gates. Hermann Maier of Austria finished eighth with fellow Austrian Beni Raich, back after suffering a concussion a week earlier, dropping to 24th after being fourth in the opening run.

First-run leader Palander, battling through the messy weather with the 19th-fastest second-run time, won and took over the GS points leader with a time of 2:32.15. Massimiliano Blardone of Italy was second in 2:32.89 while Austrians Heinz Schilchegger and Christoph Gruber tied for third place (2:33.27). Rare in a GS, six skiers failed to get through the wretched conditions and finish their second run.

Rahlves, whose previous best GS result was 18th, was 26th in the first run and posted the fourth-fastest final run as he finished in 2:34.32 with Spencer, 18th in the first run, finishing 13th at 2:34.37.

Maier continues to lead the points parade with 954 points to 925 for Raich. Miller stands fifth (772) with Rahlves seventh (696).

Rahlves said he hadn’t skied much GS since Flachau, Austria, on the first weekend of the new year but with his downhill and super G racing going well, “usually I can bring that speed over to GS and just be tactically smart. …Adelboden is the toughest hill as far as tactics…

Smiling Rahlves pleased for watery background
“These conditions aren’t making it any easier. It rained so much, the first run was a battle. I was doing down on my hand here and there,” Rahlves said, noting with a grin that his background in water sports — he’s a former jet-ski world champion — was a plus.

“You can’t see any of the bumps,” Miller said. “Some of the turns are dished out, nice and smooth. And some have two or three chopholes. I just came in there, rolled it up and said ‘OK, please be smooth,’ — ‘no, not smooth,’ and the ski went down and it was gone.

“It’s weird, because the visibility isn’t bad. You can see a decent distance and the gates, but the snow, there’s no definition. That’s fine if it’s a nice flat here. But here there are these little rolls in certain sections of gates. This is definitely one of the toughest courses. You can go out on the third gate here — there aren’t a lot of courses like this. Everyone’s chucking ’em sideways and balancing. And it doesn’t really stop. Even on the flat sections, they’re all fallaways and they set it tough as Hell today. On those fallaways, you feel like you’re climbing uphill on every gate,” Miller said.