MILLER, RAHLVES GO 1-2 IN BEAVER CREEK GS; SCHLOPY FOURTHBEAVER CREEK, COLORADO — On the chattery slopes of Beaver Creek, in a driving snowstorm, Bode Miller reminded everyone in attendance why he’s the world’s most popular skier. It’s not his propensity to stir up controversy, his looks, his occasional surliness or disregard for formality (and sometimes manners), although those things certainly don’t hurt in landing his name in the headlines. It’s because what he does after he kicks out of the starting gate is simply electric.
With countryman Daron Rahlves (yes, that Daron Rahlves, the guy who just won the downhill and used to be a speed skier) sitting in the finish with the lead, Miller left the second-run starting gate and embarked on a journey only he could have completed. Touching his rear to the snow more times than one could count, and making one, maybe two seemingly fatal mistakes, Miller inexplicably arrived at the finish with the second run’s fastest time. The crowd, already giddy from the success of Rahlves and Erik Schlopy, exploded as Miller fell, fittingly, onto his backside in the finish, grinning ear to ear. It was clear the man can do things on skis that no one else in the world can do.
“Yeah, that was not ideal,” said Miller. “For those of you who don’t know ski racing, it’s not faster to go on your ass, but it adds excitement sometimes.”
Generating speed between mistakes, Miller had the home crowd on the edge of its seat, not only to see if he would win, but also simply to see if he would make it down without blowing up. “I was totally aware of being on the edge the whole time,” Miller said. “I was taking risks. Those are the kind of runs that are fun for me. I got across the finish line and I didn’t know if I had won or not but I had a huge grin on my face. … Just to have made it.”
Miller bumped Rahlves into second, a career-best finish in GS, and quite a capper to what could be Rahlves’ final time down Birds of Prey. “This could be my last time here at Beaver Creek racing,” said Rahlves, “So it’s a pretty nice way to walk away.”
USSA president Bill Marolt was more impressed. “What Daron’s doing is remarkeable. He has really developed himself event by event. If you look by at his career, he was really a super G skier. He made himself into a good downhill skier. Then he saw the opportunity to go for the overall, and he said ‘the only way to do that is by making myself into a giant slalom skier.’ Daron Rahlves is a great story.”
Considering Lindsey Kildow’s victory in Lake Louise on Saturday, Schlopy’s remarkable day (he finished fourth despite breaking his left hand during the first run, and missed making an all-American podium by 0.01 seconds), along with Dane Spencer’s solid 12th, the day was truly red, white and blue.
“It felt like I was in the U.S. championships,” said third-place finisher Kalle Palander. “You know it’s not a nice feeling when you see Daron in front of me and Bode behind me.”
Palander might have adjusted everyone’s story line had he not had to make his own miraculous save four gates from the finish. Tied with Miller after the first run, Palander was first of the two on course, and was ahead of Rahlves at every split. Then he was thrown into the soft snow, struggled to stay upright, and killed significant speed before the finish. But his impressive save was just an appetizer for Miller’s run, which actually came to a head in the very same spot.
“I willed myself around that fourth-to-last gate,” he said. “That was — if you know physics that didn’t make any sense. I just made my ski go around it without any of the laws of physics applying.”
Miller’s work is not done, as he will race in tomorrow’s slalom, but he certainly put to rest all those rumors of his demise, centering on what many saw as a lack of motivation that swirled about after a lackluster performance in Lake Louise last weekend. “You can’t just manufacture motivation out of thin air, although I’ve been trying for the last three years,” Miller said. “[But] I think days like yesterday, coming to a place where you’re family’s there, the home crowd. Those are the circumstances that [make] that process a bit easier. I think that made a difference for me.
“I haven’t brought the type of intensity that normally I like to bring,” he admitted. “But the last two days, I think I did bring that intensity. That doesn’t mean it’s going to come every race, or that it’s going to come any easier, but I do put a lot of conscious thought trying to figure out how to get that out of myself. It’s a lot more fun to race with that kind of intensity and motivation.”
Birds of Prey GS notebook
A foot of snow fell overnight, and it continued to snow during race. While all the racers voiced their appreciation for the race crew in making the race happen at all, the conditions were difficult. Flat light and choppy conditions made things interesting and the snow surface in the course ensured a rough ride. “The snow was so strange, sometimes really clean, icy turns and sometimes there were small ice, iceballs,” Kalle Palander said.
Nike posters and T-shirts with Miller’s likeness and the instructions, “Join Bode,” were circulating in the finish area. Check out JoinBode.com.
Austria’s Mario Matt, long a slalom specialist, skied the third-fastest second run, moving up from 29th to 11th.
Canadian Francois Bourque finished sixth after starting 50th.
Men’s Giant Slalom
Beaver Creek, Colo.,
Dec. 3, 2005
1. Bode Miller, USA 2:34.56
2. Daron Rahlves, USA 2:35.05
3. Kalle Palander, FIN 2:35.79
4. Erik Schlopy, USA 2:35.80
5. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 2:35.99
6. Francois Bourque, CAN 2:36.50
7. Fredrik Nyberg, SWE 2:36.59
8. Hermann Maier, AUT 2:36.70
9. Davide Simoncelli, ITA 2:36.77
10. Rainer Schoenfelder, AUT 2:36.84
11. Mario Matt, AUT 2:37.12
12. Dane Spencer, USA 2:37.21
13. Massimiliano Blardone, ITA 2:37.43
14. Hannes Reichelt, AUT 2:37.51
15. Marc Berthod, SUI 2:37.59
16. Daniel Albrecht, SUI 2:37.64
17. Thomas Grandi, CAN 2:37.71
18. Giorgio Rocca, ITA 2:37.93
19. Didier Cuche, SUI 2:38.00
20. Frederic Covili, FRA 2:38.01
21. Erik Guay, CAN 2:38.18
22. Marco Buechel, LIE 2:38.30
23. Raphael Burtin, FRA 2:38.33
24. Ales Gorza, SLO 2:38.35
25. Niklas Rainer, SWE 2:38.37
26. Markus Larsson, SWE 2:38.58
27. Bernard Vajdic, SLO 2:38.74
28. Lasse Kjus, NOR 2:39.12
29. Mirko DeFlorian, ITA 2:45.53
Other North Americans:
DNQ 2nd: Jean-Philippe Roy, Ryan Semple, John Kucera, CAN; Chip Knight USA.
DNF 1st: Ted Ligety, Jake Zamansky, USA.
DNS: James Cochran, USA.
Men’s GS, Beaver Creek, Dec. 3, 2005
1. Miller, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2. Rahlves, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3. Palander, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4. Schlopy, Nordica/Marker/Look
5. Svindal, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6. Bourque, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
7. Nyberg, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
8. Maier, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
9. Simoncelli, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
10. Schoenfelder, Fischer/Nordica/Fischer
By Hank McKee
Men’s Giant Slalom, Beaver Creek, Colo., Dec. 3, 2005. … It is the sixth race of the men’s 34 race, 4 combined World Cup schedule. … It is the second of eight scheduled GS’s. … It is the third of a four-race set at Beaver Creek.
It is the 20th career World Cup win for Bode Miller. … His ninth in GS. … It is the 155th U.S. win. … Bode is second on the all-time list behind Phil Mahre’s 27 career wins. … Bode ties Tamara McKinney for most GS wins. … It is his first win of the season, but he
also has two second place finishes (Solden GS Dec. 23 and Beaver Creek DH Dec. 2).
It is the 24th career podium for Daron Rahlves. … His first in GS. … It is his fourth result of the season, all of them top five finishes and three of them podium results. … (3rd Lake Louise SG Nov. 27, 5th Beaver Creek SG Dec. 1, 1st Beaver Creek DH Dec. 2 and 2nd GS Dec. 3). … It is not the first 1-2 finish for U.S. men in a World Cup GS, the first occurred at Copper Mnt, Colo, March 5, 1976 when Greg Jones won and Phil Mahre was second. … Steve Mahre was sixth. … In other disciplines, Miller and Rahlves tied for first in the final SG of last season.
It is the 19th career podium for Kalle Palander. … His 7th in GS. … It is his first podium of the season.
It is the sixth time Erik Schlopy has been fourth or better in his career (all in GS). … But it is the first time since 2003. … His finish makes the U.S. result the best men’s GS result all time. … Sixth is Francois Bourgue’s third-best career result. … All three of them coming already this season. … Twelfth matches Dane Spencer’s fourth-best career result. … It is the second scoring result of the season for Thomas Grandi. … 104th of his career. … It is the first career scoring result in GS for Erik Guay.
Rahlves moves into the lead in the overall World Cup standings 285-282 over Bode Miller. … Aksel Svindal (5th in race) is third at 266. … Miller holds the GS standings lead 180-132 over Hermann Maier. … Rainer Schoenfelder is third with 86 points. … Just the top two skiers are within the same second with third 1.2 seconds out. … Austria men lead the Nations Cup 1,229-710 over the U.S. … Norway is third at 540.