Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves 1-2 in world championship downhill


Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves 1-2 in world championship downhillBode Miller and Daron Rahlves went one-two in the world championship downhill today in Bormio, stunning their competitors with an aggressive display of power and style.

It is the first time Americans have taken the top two spots in a world championship race. No American man has ever won a world championship downhill. Miller said he and Rahlves were the two skiers he would pick when the game was on the line.

“You have to put a guy in to make that winning shot or take that all-important run,” Miller said. “The two guys I would pick out of the whole World Cup are myself and Daron.”

Rahlves said it was exciting to have Miller as a competitor. “If it was easy and you kept winning all the time, it wouldn’t be much fun,” said Rahlves. “It takes a lot of fight to put together a good run and a good race…I think he’s a competitor who puts things on the line, and I respect that. He really attacks.”

Miller waited in the start house for more than 10 minutes as racer number two Alexandr Horoschilov of Russia, was picked out of the nettings, where he’d gotten hung up after crashing. “We knew he had a good start number,” said John McBride, head speed coach for the U.S. men’s team. “But we also knew it would be trouble if one of those (guys) before him went down and got him flagged.”

It was sunny and cold in Bormio, and the snow was hard, but dry and chalky for most of the course. Thousands of fans turned out to watch the marquee event of the alpine skiing world championships. Among them were skiing greats like Alberto Tomba, Pirmin Zurbriggen and Pepi Stiegler, to name a few.

Third place went to the reigning world champion in this event, Michael Walchhofer of Austria, who also leads the World Cup downhill standings. “Clearly we hoped for a victory,” he said of the Austrian team.

Hermann Maier finished 17th. A bad fall off the San Pietro jump in the training run the day before had left him with stitches in his shin.

British skier Finlay Mickle had an outstanding race, finishing 11th. “I gave everything I had today,” Mickel said after the race. “I did not even have the energy to wave to Mum and Dad.”

There was also reason to be happy for the Swiss team, who finished fifth and sixth with Bruno Kernen and Didier Defago, whose injured teammate Didier Cuche was hobbling around the finish on crutches.

Debate on start order format comes to a head…
While American fans are enjoying the success, the Austrians are seeing this as an indictment of the method used for determining the start order. Miller himself conceded that starting third gave him an advantage over the Austrians, who started 23, 27, 29, 30 and 31.

“In my opinion, it makes the sport kind of strange,” said Miller, calling change long overdue. He said he doesn’t like the top 30 bibs are given in reverse order of the finish position in the final training run. “They were trying to make it appealing for TV, but it just makes it dangerous for the athletes.”

Instead of shutting down his speed near the finish on the final training run on Friday, Miller clicked open the start wand on his training run and waited. He ended up 28th, and so started third in the race.

Meanwhile Werner Franz of Austria was gunning for a start position. He beat Christoph Gruber, but then had to start 29th, hitting choppy ruts on the turns.

“Clearly we have a problem,” said Michael Walchhofer. “The piste becomes worse and worse.”

Miller and Rahlves, after the race…
After the race, Miller received an emotional hug from Bob Beattie, the former coach and television commentator from the United States.

A co-founder of the World Cup, and source of inspiration for many of the American athletes, Beattie said that it was one of the best days of ski racing he had watched.

The athletes appeared at the awards ceremony in this medieval town, and then returned to the U.S.A. House, a retreat for American athletes and supporters. For the rest of the night, the sidewalk outside the door was mobbed with fans, hoping one of the armed bouncers would let them in.

Meanwhile inside, Miller and Rahvles posed with their medals for a cluster of cameramen, and stood by as USSA president Bill Marolt gave a toast.

“I don’t have any weaknesses really,” said Miller, who started third. “I’m decent on the flats — not the best. I’m good on turns, good in the air, off jumps I don’t really make mistakes. There’s no hole in my skiing.”

Rahlves skied aggressively out of the 21st start position, and made several small mistakes to finish 0.44 behind Miller. “Life is about taking chances and sport is about taking chances,” said Rahlves.

World Ski Championships

Men’s Downhill
Bormio, Italy
Feb. 5, 2005

1. Bode Miller, USA 1:56.22
2. Daron Rahlves, USA 1:56.66
3. Michael Walchhofer, AUT 1:57.09
4. Fritz Strobl, AUT 1:57.17
5. Bruno Kernen, SUI 1:57.25
6. Didier Defago, SUI 1:57.37
7. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 1:57.38
8. Ambrosi Hoffmann, SUI 1:57.40
9. Johan Grugger, AUT 1:57.52
9. David Poisson, FRA 1:57.52
11. Finlay Mickel, GBR 1:57.53
12. Florian Eckert, GER 1:57.65
13. Juerg Gruenenfelder, SUI 1:57.67
14. Kurt Sulzenbacher, ITA 1:57.79
15. Kristian Ghedina, ITA 1:57.86
16. John Kucera, CAN 1:57.90
17. Hermann Maier, AUT 1:57.95
18. Max Rauffer, GER 1:57.99
19. Manuel Osborne-Paradis, CAN 1:58.00
20. Andrej Jerman, SLO 1:58.02
21. Justin Johnson, USA 1:58.10
22. Erik Guay, CAN 1:58.28
23. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, NOR 1:58.31
24. Peter Fill, ITA 1:58.39
25. Marco Buechel, LIE 1:58.59
26. Bjarne Solbakken, NOR 1:58.63
27. Alessandro Fattori, ITA 1:58.92
28. Werner Franz, AUT 1:58.96
29. Yannick Bertrand, FRA 1:59.51
30. Jeff Hume, CAN 1:59.57
other North Americans:
38. Hubertus VonHohenlohe, MEX 2:10.25

THE SCOOP

By Hank McKee

equipment
World Championship, Men’s DH, Bormio, Feb. 5, 2005

Skier, skis/boots/binding
1 Miller, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Rahlves, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Walchhofer, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
4 Strobl, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
5 Kernen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
6 Defago, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
7 Svindal, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Hoffmann, Stoeckli/Atomic/Atomic
9 Grugger, Head/Lange/Tyrolia
9 Poisson, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon

FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, Men’s Downhill, Bormio, Italy, Feb. 5, 2005. … It is the fifth event of the World Championships. … The third men’s event. … Winning margin is .44 of a second.

It is the fourth World Championships and fifth Championship medal for Bode Miller. … He also won gold in ’03 combined, ’03 GS and the ’05 SG. … Silver in ’03 SG. … He is the only American to win more than two World Championships in a career. … It is the second time Miller has won a title race with a teammate on the podium (Erik Schlopy 3rd GS ’03). … It is his second title this season. … He has a total of eight wins this season. … He is the first U.S. male to win a championship DH. … Picabo Street (’96) and Hilary Lindh (’97) have both won among U.S. women.

It is the second World Championship medal for Daron Rahlves. … Also won the ’01 SG gold. … The U.S. has previously had two skiers on the same World Championship podium (the ’03 GS; the women’s DH 2/18/96 with Picabo Street 1st and Hilary Lindh 3rd; The 2/6/85 GS also in Bormio Diann Roffe 1st, Eva Twardokens 3rd)) but never a one-two sweep. … Rahlves has been second three times this season without a win.

It is the third World Championship medal for Michael Walchhofer and completes his cycle having won each color. … He has five championship results to his career, the worst of them a 6th. … It is the sixth time Walchhofer has been third this seas
on.

It is the 2nd time Fritz Strobl has finished fourth in a World Championship DH (’97) …

It is the third title race of John Kucera’s career, and the third of these championships. … The second for Maneul Osborne-Paradia and second of these championships. … The first title race for Justin Johnson. … The fifth for Erik Guay. … third of these championships…. The second title race for Jeff Hume who competed in combined in ’03. … It is the 29th World Championship race for Hubertus VonHohenloe. … He participated in the 1982 Worlds when the U.S. collected five medals.

Austria has five medals (1g,1s,3b); Croatia one (g); Italy two (1s,1b); Norway one (s); Sweden two (1g,1s); and the U.S. four (2g,1s,1b). … Miller, Anja Paerson, Benjamin Raich and Walchhofer have each won two medals at these championships.

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