Bode Miller wins career-first World Cup downhill in Lake LouiseBode Miller won the opening World Cup downhill race of the season on Saturday, finishing in 1 minute, 42.75 seconds to claim the first World Cup downhill victory of his career. “I had good training runs, and I figured out the line pretty quickly,” said Miller. “I knew where I could take risks, and where not to. I could ski aggressively where I wanted.”
Miller said that the bulletproof snow suited him well. “Conditions were as good as could be,” he said, pointing out that Canadian Jan Hudec, back now from last year’s injury, went from starting in the sixties to finishing eighth. “Everything held up better than it ever has before.”
It was a great day for the American alpine racers, with Daron Rahlves coming in fifth in Lake Louise and four American women finishing in the top 16 down in Aspen, where the women were racing slalom. “Pretty impressive show by our big guns,” said the U.S. Ski Team’s super G and downhill head coach John McBride. “Bode pretty much put the smack down on everyone after that first interval. He’s skiing with so much confidence. He did some impressive things out there today – skiing so intensively, so well…and he’s obviously so confident – really, a whole different level of confidence — on that new equipment.”
Miller’s win is especially noteworthy because this was his first speed race since switching to Atomic skis this summer. He has said that the new set-up allows him to get himself into a more aerodynamic tucking position. “Obviously the way I stand is very important,” said Miller in a cell-phone conversation with a Ski Racing correspondent. “And the way I stand makes everything easier now. There are a hundred different factors when you change equipment.”
Miller, who began his World Cup career as a tech-event specialist, is focusing on improvement in the downhill this season as part of his bid to become the first American man since Phil Mahre in 1983 to win the World Cup overall title. Miller suffered last year in speed events, but was very fast in 2002-2003, finishing second in the super G at the 2003 world championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Antoine Deneriaz of France was second in 1:43.72, while Michael Walchhofer of Austria was third in 1:43.92. The race was held on the Olympic downhill course, a string of man-made snow on an otherwise brown mountain. The race was contested under sun and a bright blue sky. The first super G of the season is scheduled for Sunday.
“It means all the pieces came together today,” said Miller, who has competed in every race on the World Cup calendar the last two years. “There’s a lot of pieces that have to come together to win a downhill. Even more pieces have to come together to be a second ahead.”
Miller also won the opening giant slalom race of the season in Soelden, Austria, but his best downhill result before Saturday was a fifth in Bormio, Italy, in 2003.
“The prestige and the sexiness of downhill are undeniable,” Miller said. “It’s the fastest, has the biggest jumps, the most risks.”
-staff and wire reports
Lake Louise, Alberta
Nov. 27, 2004
1. Bode Miller, USA 1:42.75
2. Antoine Deneriaz, FRA 1:43.72
3. Michael Walchhofer, AUT 1:43.92
4. Hans Knauss, AUT 1:43.98
5. Daron Rahlves, USA 1:44.06
6. Hermann Maier, AUT 1:44.09
7. Didier Cuche, SUI 1:44.45
8. Jan Hudec, CAN 1:44.51
9. Ambrosi Hoffmann, SUI 1:44.58
10. Lasse Kjus, NOR 1:44.61
11. Silvan Zurbriggen, SUI 1:44.78
12. Kurt Sulzenbacher, ITA 1:44.84
13. Andreas Schifferer, AUT 1:44.91
14. Bruno Kernen, SUI 1:45.00
15. Erik Guay, CAN 1:45.05
16. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 1:45.07
17. Benjamin Raich, AUT 1:45.11
18. Max Rauffer, GER 1:45.21
19. Johann Grugger, AUT 1:45.22
20. Klaus Kroell, AUT 1:45.25
21. Norbert Holzknecht, AUT 1:45.36
22. Werner Franz, AUT 1:45.40
23. Bjarne Solbakken, NOR 1:45.41
24. Marco Buechel, LIE 1:45.48
25. Francois Bourque, CAN 1:45.54
26. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, NOR 1:45.56
26. Tobias Gruenenfelder, SUI 1:45.56
28. Kristian Ghedina, ITA 1:45.60
29. Finlay Mickel, GBR 1:45.61
30. Mario Scheiber, AUT 1:45.65
other North Americans
37. John Kucera, CAN 1:46.16
38. Scott Macartney, USA 1:46.30
39. Jeff Hume, CAN 1:46.33
48. Justin Johnson, USA 1:46.70
54. Bryon Friedman, USA 1:47.13
56. Jakub Fiala, USA 1:47.22
67. Wade Bishop, USA 1:48.55
DNF: Vincent Lavoie, CAN.
By Hank McKee
Lake Louise Men’s Downhill, Nov. 27, 2004 Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Miller, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Deneriaz, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Walchhofer, Atomic/Lange/Atomic
4 Knauss, Fischer/Lange/Fischer
5 Rahlves, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6 Maier, Atomic/Lange/Atomic
7 Cuche, Atomic/Lange/Atomic
8 Hudec, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
9 Hoffmann, Stoeckli/Atomic/Atomic
10 Kjus, Dynastar/Atomic/Look
The Lake Louise DH 11/27/2004 is the second men’s race of a 35 race World Cup schedule (plus two combineds). … It is the first of 11 scheduled downhills.
It is the 14th career World Cup win for Bode Miller, … his first in DH. … It is his second win of the season in two races. … It is the 144th U.S. World Cup win and second of the season. … The last dozen U.S. wins have come from either Miller or Daron Rahlves. … It is Miller’s first win at Lake Louise, the previous best result at the site a pair sevenths in DH 11/30/02 and SG 12/1/02. … It is a large margin of victory at .97 of a second… the next eight finishing skiers are within that margin of each other.
It is the sixth career Cup podium for Antoine Deneriaz, the most recent a 3rd at Kvitfjell 3/6/04. … He owns three wins, all in DH and two from Val Gardena (12/20/03 & 12/21/02) … It is the 16th career podium for Michael Walchhofer, 11 of them in DH and all since Jan. 2001.
It is the 25th career top five Cup finish for Daron Rahlves, 11 of them coming in his last 21 scoring finishes.
It is the best of three career scoring finishes for Jan Hudec. … Hudec started 62nd. … It is the 11th scoring finish for Erik Guay and his fourth best ever. … Three of his best four results have come at Lake Louise. … It is the second scoring finish ever for Francois Bourque. … He was 23rd at Garmisch 2/1/2004 in SG.
Miller leads the overall standings 200-95 for Hans Knauss (4th in race). … The U.S. is now second to Austria in the Nations Cup rankings behind 769-454. (includes Women’s Aspen SL).