MILLER AND RAHLVES TIE FOR SUPER G WIN; MILLER TAKES TITLE AND COMMANDING LEAD OVER RAICHTweet
MILLER AND RAHLVES TIE FOR SUPER G WIN; MILLER TAKES TITLE AND COMMANDING LEAD OVER RAICHBode Miller and Daron Rahlves made more U.S. ski history tying for the win in the final super G of the season Friday at Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
“It was a good day,” said Rahlves, a loyal friend and teammate to Miller, but one who has been stuck in Miller’s shadow all season. “To be up there side by side…with a win…It’s pretty sweet…I’m still laughing.”
For Rahlves, it was the much-needed first win of a difficult season; for Miller, it was one giant step toward being the first American to win the World Cup overall title since 1983 when Phil Mahre and Tamara McKinney were overall champions.
It was sunny and warm in Lenzerheide. (Michaela Dorfmeister won the women’s race and super G title). For the men’s race, American coach John McBride set a difficult course on the steep and rolling Silvano Beltrametti track. There were 25 racers on the start list. Rahlves ran 22nd, Miller 24th, and Maier 25th.
“We talked back and forth what the plan was,” said Rahlves, recalling how he and Miller discussed tactics while waiting to start. “And then we got some good reports from the coaches, and then he said, ‘I know it’s tight, there’s one guy between us, but if you can get a radio, give me a heads up on things.’”
Rahlves carried speed out of a steep pitch on the lower middle of the course and took by far the tightest line of any single racer on the last gates. With a time of 1:10.24, he knocked off the leader at that point: Stephan Goergl of Austria.
Clutching for a radio the second he came to a stop, he told Miller about what line to use — where to ski round, and where to let it run. “Between breaths I was just slobbering all over the radio,” said Rahlves later.
“Just like we talked about before,” hollered Rahlves, gasping for air while Miller was preparing to start with his typical nonchalant demeanor.
Then Miller blasted onto the course and laid down arc after arc with his inimitable technique, which looks off balance. “He is not always in a correct position,” explained Toni Sailer, who won three golds in the 1956 Olympics, and says Miller is a talent to match all ski racing legends. “It seems like a too dangerous way of skiing.”
Miller made mistakes, but covered the distance and crossed the finish line in the new aerodynamic tuck that came to his skiing only this year.
As he entered the long run-out area in the finish, slowing to a stop, the green light on the lower corner of the scoreboard popped up, indicating a racer has taken the lead.
“I looked up there and I saw the green light,” said Rahlves, who then looked to see what kind of advantage Miller had on him. “And I thought, whoa…zeroes…okay…I’ll take that.”
Improbably, he and Miller had deadlocked for the lead with one skier to go: Hermann Maier, the wearer of the discipline leader’s red bib.
“It still came down to Hermann,” said Miller later. “Hermann crushed the course up [last week] in Norway, putting everybody in the tank…I could win today, and if he was second he would have won the title.”
Maier skied conservatively and made mistakes, finishing ninth on the 2km course. Realizing he had given up the red bib he shook hands with Miller and Rahlves with a sportsmanlike smile.
Maier owns this discipline, but he and his countrymen have little to feel bad about: With the exception of Miller’s win at Lake Louise back in November — and the almost bizarre American tie today — every single World Cup super G victory went to an Austrian (Miller also took the super G at world championships ).
Rahlves, ever the team player, did Miller a huge favor: by finishing 0.01 seconds faster than he did, Rahlves would have taken the win, and Miller would have taken only 80 points from the race.
And today, Miller needed all the points he could get. Maier only needed to finish fourth to clinch the title, even if Miller had won.
With two races remaining – giant slalom on Saturday, slalom on Sunday – Miller is 184 points ahead of Austrian Benni Raich. The only possible scenario under which Raich could take the crystal globe away from Miller would be if he wins both races and Miller finishes outside the top 15 in both.
Why the season turned out the way it did…
Last year Hermann Maier took the title, in a discipline where he has always shown his dominance. He won that crystal globe four years straight from 1998 to 2001. Upon returning from his motorcycle accident in January 2003, super G was the first event he won.
This season, in what must have been one of the highlights of his season, Maier won the Kitzbuehel super G in January, beating Daron Rahlves by just 0.02 seconds. He kept quiet until five days ago at Kvitfjell, where he won the race by 0.83 seconds.
After that race, only two skiers were in contention for the super G title: Maier (with 424 points) and Miller (with 370). Based on those numbers, Miller had to win today’s race and hope Maier finished worse than fourth if Miller wanted to take the title. But Miller also knew he had to take extra risks in order to compete with Benni Raich for the overall World Cup title.
One of the reasons Miller was satisfied to do so well in the super G standings was that he has long thought it was an event he was suited for. He was second in the world championship super G in 2003, and took the gold this year.
This year’s super G standings showed disappointing performances from Hans Knauss (suspended for positive drug tests), Andreas Schifferer (who missed world championships entirely), and Lasse Kjus (hampered by chronic respiratory problems).
Click on these links to see results from each of this year’s World Cup super G races:
Lake Louise, CAN (winner: Bode Miller, USA).
Beaver Creek, USA (winner: Stephan Goergl, AUT).
Val Gardena (winner: Michael Walchhofer, AUT)
Kitzbuehel, AUT (winner: Hermann Maier, AUT)
Garmisch, GER (winner: Christoph Gruber, AUT)
Kvitfjell, NOR (winner: Hermann Maier, AUT
Lenzerheide, SUI (winners: Daron Rahlves and Bode Miller, USA and USA)
The World Cup Finals resume tomorrow, with men’s giant slalom and women’s slalom. In the men’s race, six skiers have a mathematical chance at winning the title. Benjamin Raich leads the standings with 363 points over Thomas Grandi (342 points). They are followed by Miller (340), Blardone (316), Maier (312) and Palander (266).
On Sunday, men will race slalom and women will run GS, and the overall World Cup titles will be announced.
RESULTS: World C
Men’s Super G
March 11, 2005
1. Bode Miller, USA 1:10.24
1. Daron Rahlves, USA 1:10.24
3. Stephan Goergl, AUT 1:10.29
4. Marco Buechel, LIE 1:10.31
5. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, NOR 1:10.35
6. Erik Guay, CAN 1:10.38
7. Michael Walchhofer, AUT 1:10.42
8. Tobias Gruenenfelder, SUI 1:10.61
9. Hermann Maier, AUT 1:10.63
10. Lasse Kjus, NOR 1:10.68
11. Benjamin Raich, AUT 1:10.76
12. Andreas Schifferer, AUT 1:11.01
13. Didier Defago, SUI 1:11.12
14. Francois Bourque, CAN 1:11.13
14. Ambrosi Hoffmann, SUI 1:11.13
16. Mario Scheiber, AUT 1:11.17
16. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 1:11.17
18. Alessandro Fattori, ITA 1:11.21
19. Fritz Strobl, AUT 1:11.23
20. Konrad Hari, SUI 1:11.29
21. Christoph Gruber, AUT 1:11.35
22. Florian Eckert, GER 1:11.46
23. Bruno Kernen, SUI 1:11.67
No additional North Americans.
By Hank McKee
Men’s SG, Lenzerheide, March 11, 2005
1 Miller, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
1 Rahlves, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3 Goergl, Fischer/Lange/Fischer
4 Buechel, Head/Lange/Tyrolia
5 Aamodt, Dynastar/Nordica/Tyrolia
6 Guay, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
7 Walchhofer, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8 Gruenenfelder, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
9 Maier, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10 Kjus, Dynastar/Atomic/Look
World Cup Finals, Men’s Super G, Lenzerheide, Switzerland, March 11, 2005. … It is the 34th of 37 scheduled men’s World Cup events with 1 combined having been canceled. … It is the 7th of 7 scheduled Super G’s. … It is a tie for first place with third just 5 100ths back. … The first 19 skiers are within the same second in a race where only the top 15 score.
It is the 19th career win for Bode Miller and the ninth for Daron Rahlves. … Americans have never tied for first in a World Cup race before. … The wins are the 150th and 151st U.S. World Cup wins. … Miller is in sole possession of second all time on the U.S. win list behind Phil Mahre (27). … Rahlves moves into a tie for fourth with Picabo Street and Steve Mahre. Tamara McKinney had 18 wins. … It is the second career SG win for Miller… The third for Rahlves. … It is the 9th win of the season for Miller including two gold medals at World Championships. … It is the first win of the season for Rahlves, but his sixth podium, counting three medals at Worlds.
It is the second career podium for Stephan Goergl, the first a SG win earlier this season at Beaver Creek 12/2/04.
Erik Guay matches his second best career placing in 6th. … It is the third best career result for Francois Bourque in 14th.
Miller’s lead in the overall standings expands to 184 over Benjamin Raich (11th in race) 1528-1344. … And to 283 over Hermann Maier (9th in race). … Rahlves remains in fifth place with a point total of 944. … Miller wins the SG title (his first) 470-453 over Maier. … Rahlves finishes 3rd at 362. … No American has previously won a World Cup SG title.