Doug Haney/U.S. Ski Team
Miller notches first World Cup win of the season for American men, record 32nd of his career
January 15, 2010 —
WENGEN, Switzerland - Two-time World Cup overall champion Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) secured his first victory of the 2010 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup season on Friday, smoking the field in the downhill and holding off defending champion Carlo Janka of Switzerland in the slalom for his eighth podium and fourth win at Wengen.
"I feel like I have a setup now in all four events where I can be a threat to win and be on the podium," Miller said. "It's been a long time since I really felt like that."
Ted Ligety (Park City, UT) was no slouch in nabbing fifth place, but the day belonged to Miller, whose blazing downhill, despite two mistakes, gave him enough cushion to win his third World Cup super combined.
"Earlier this year, I could've won races, but it would have taken some other things to happen - better conditions for me, or other guys having some difficulties" Miller said. "But the way I have my setups now, I feel like anybody can ski their best and I can go down and beat them if I ski well."
It is Miller’s first win since March 2008 (Kvitfjell, Norway) in one of the toughest races on the World Cup, proving he's still a force to be reckoned with - even while mending an ankle injury - and he's rounding into shape right in time for Vancouver.
"Hearing the national anthem, it feels good," said head coach Sasha Rearick. "Bode put down one hell of a run in the downhill. That was impressive."
"It was a great day for me just that in I made a breakthrough in my equipment," Miller said. "It's been a frustrating season a little bit because we haven't had very consistent conditions, and I was so far behind at the beginning of the year with no testing all summer. I didn't even ski until September, so we've been kind of plugging away and trying to figure out all the different things in all four events, and today was the first day that I had a downhill setup that I really felt that I could win on."
Starting the downhill sixth in fair conditions under the Eiger, Miller improved on the time of early leader Dominik Paris (Italy) at each interval, then watched 54 other skiers fail to challenge his pace.
"I couldn't have skied another second faster than I did today," Miller said after the downhill run.
Miller kept the same boot and skied with a first-time setup in the slalom run - sans warm-up or training.
"I was just a little nervous to rip right out of the gate and try to put down turns, especially with Janka skiing well, and I didn't have a ton of time to play with," Miller said.
"That's always a little bit tough for someone with 400 World Cup races, you know that's not the best way to go out there and try to win, but I have to do it. I just started so late this year that I had no time to test and no time to run new equipment, so I was really happy, under those circumstances especially, to go out there and finish two solid runs."
Ligety is two spots ahead of Miller in the World Cup standings in seventh after a solid downhill run in 16th and a slalom that was the day’s fifth fastest in front of a record attendance of 17,500.
"For a guy with his ability and his downhill experience, fantastic execution," Rearick said of the first run. Ligety said he was "more toward the side of taking it easy” in the slalom.
"I just wanted to try and get a little bit of confidence back and try to make it to the finish line not being too slow," Ligety said. "My skiing's going well, it's just a matter of finishing and being able to push it hard in the race."
Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY), with former coach and Lake Placid Olympic Regional Development Authority Jeff Byrne on hand, finished 20th in the downhill before failing to complete his slalom run.
Another downhill event - the longest in the world at over 2-1/2 minutes - awaits U.S. skiers Saturday before a slalom Sunday.
"Tomorrow's a big one for the downhill group for sure," Rearick said. "(Steven Nyman, Sundance, UT) is slowly making steps in a really strong way, he's skiing better and better. He's confident in his skiing and he's starting to get fit, too. He didn't start training until November, so he's going in the right direction.
"Andrew Weibrecht is chugging along, doing what he does. He's going to attack that hill tomorrow," Rearick said, adding that Erik Fisher (Middleton, ID) could surprise people.
"He's a competitor," Rearick said. "He loves to compete, so it should be fun to see what he can do tomorrow. Because the Olympic qualifications are coming down to these next two downhills."
UniversalSports.com won't stream live for this weekend's events due to technical difficulties, but races will be available on demand.
2010 Audi FIS World Cup
Wengen, Switzerland - Jan. 15, 2010
Men’s Super Combined
1. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 2:35.96
2. Carlo Janka, Switzerland, 2:36.33
3. Silvan Zurbriggen, Switzerland, 2:36.38
4. Benjamin Raich, Austria, 2:36.67
5. Ted Ligety, Park City, UT, 2:37.23
33. Tim Jitloff, Reno, NV
DNF-SL - Andrew Weibrecht, Lake Placid, NY
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