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Wengen: Bode Miller DQ hands Raich win in Lauberhorn super combined


Wengen: Bode Miller DQ hands Raich win in Lauberhorn super combined{mosimage}WENGEN, Switzerland – After one of the most turbulent weeks of his ski racing career, Bode Miller came within a centimeter Friday of delivering an emphatic message: ‘I always let my skiing do the talking.’

Miller uttered those words following the Wengen super combined less than 24 hours after publicly apologizing for his comments regarding drinking and skiing on ’60 Minutes.’ After placing second in the morning downhill, Miller straddled a gate on the bottom third of the slalom course – a mistake controversial enough to warrant a protest discussion among U.S. coaches in the finish.

Miller roared into first place by 1.11 over Raich after completing his slalom, with just Michael Walchhofer of Austria left in the start house. But judges quickly tagged a DQ beside Miller’s name, and Walchhofer’s slalom troubles allowed teammate Raich to claim career win No. 19. Norwegian veteran Kjetil Andre Aamodt was second and Italy’s Peter Fill third for his first career podium.

‘On that hooked tip, I hit on the gate straight on with my ski’ Miller said. ‘But once you get disqualified, it’s hard to get back in. You have to prove that you did that. I want to ask the R [referee] what the rules are, because if you drive straight over the gate with your tip, then it’s OK. … The mark on my ski goes straight down the middle of the ski for a little while before it goes off the edges. It would be tough [to win a protest], but if we had some good video we might be able to pull it off.’

Ambiguity concerning the FIS rules on gate straddling fueled Miller’s protest bid. According to article 661.4.1 of the International Ski Competition Rules, a gate has been passed correctly when both the competitor’s ski tips and both feet have passed across the gate line. The gate line in slalom is the imaginary shortest line between the turning pole and the outside pole.

‘The part that’s fairly clear on the video is that the gate was under his ski, and most of the time that’s going to be a DQ’ U.S. Ski Team coach John McBride said. ‘It’s unfortunate. He had a good day, there’s no doubt about it. He skied well. It’s just unfortunate … that close.’

FIS referee Guenter Hujara said a Miller win would have been good for the sport. He also said the disqualification was valid. ‘It’s very clear that the ski tip has to cross the gate line, and it’s more than obvious that he was straddling the gate’ Hujara said. ‘There is maybe damage to his ski done where he crosses the pole. … Bode raises the question, but there is not a question.

Defending overall champ Miller now has a tough chore over the second half of the World Cup calendar. With 19 races down and 20 to go, Raich owns a commanding lead in the chase for the overall globe, 706 to 520 for Walchhofer. Miller and Daron Rahlves are tied for third in the overall standings with 489 points

‘This is great’ Raich said. ‘I’ve scored 360 points in one single week.’ Raich was fourth in the morning slalom and 10th in the downhill, finishing with a two-run time of 2 minutes, 38.46 seconds. Aamodt was 0.19 back and Fill third, .32 behind the winner.

‘It was a good day for sure’ Aamodt said. ‘My first podium since the downhill in Lake Louise, the first downhill of the season. It’s never easy to finish on the podium in the World Cup.

“For me, slalom is the most important part of the combined. Because of my injury, I hadn’t been able to train slalom as much.’

Miller has not completed a slalom or combined slalom leg since last season. But he said he’s making progress.

‘I think I did some stuff with my boots. The boot setup is definitely OK’ Miller said. ‘[This week is] the first time I’ve gotten to spend some time working on slalom.’

Rahlves had a disappointing morning run. He was disqualified after failing to negotiate a right-hand turn and missing a gate on the second half of the course. ‘Today was another training day for me, because I wasn’t going to race slalom’ Rahlves said. ‘You’ve got to stay real close to the fence [on that long straightaway mid-course]. I tried to push it a little, see what I could get away with, and you can’t do that.

‘The Hundschopf on down is where I’m usually fastest’ Rahlves said. ‘And that hasn’t been the cases here the last few days. … I’ve got to ski a lot cleaner and put it together. I’ve got to execute better. I definitely need to come out with my A game tomorrow [in the 76th annual Lauberhorn downhill].’

American Steven Nyman was 19th overall after the seventh-best downhill, boosting his Torino chances. ‘I think Stevie’s shown his downhill is getting stronger and stronger’ McBride said. ‘We’re working to try and get him a little volume in slalom, a little time on his slalom skis. Slalom’s a little off the mark right now, but he’s a talented kid. We need to get him a little volume and find the right training environment. His downhill is on right now.’

Nyman was pleased with the way he handled the difficult chicane in the midsection of the course, where he averted disaster a day earlier in the second training run.

‘I had a little trouble in training there yesterday at the first left-footer’ Nyman said. ‘I went a little too straight into the right-footer because of that and T-boned into the fence, went up and did an alley-oop 360. I nailed it. …

‘I told my brother that he’d be proud, because I’m integrating ski racing with freeskiing’ he said. Nyman’s brother Blake, 21, is a competitive freeskiier.

Scott Macartney was 29th, while Justin Johnson (slalom DNS), Marco Sullivan (slalom DNS) and Ted Ligety (slalom DNF) did not complete both portions of the event.

WENGEN SUPER COMBINED NOTEBOOK: Canadian Erik Guay (sixth in the downhill, DNS slalom) was clocked at a scintillating 97 miles per hour at a speed trap on the Wengen downhill track, considered the fastest on the World Cup circuit.

The race took place in sunny conditions here in the heart of Swiss ski country, the Berner Oberland. (For an interactive map of the area, click here.)

Bode Miller’s got plenty of folks on his side despite the recent ’60 Minutes’ controversy. Check out our reader responses on skiracing.com. Friday, Miller had his share of supporters in the crowd of 14,000 enjoying crisp weather in spectacular Wengen.

Anita Wellig and her ski racing daughters (self-professed biggest fan of Miller) made the trek up the Lauberhorn from the valley town of Leisinger, Switzerland, to see their main man. ‘Bode is completely different, and he loves skiing’ Wellig said. ‘We think he’s not doing it for money, it’s for fun. … For children to do well in training, it’s always dependent about money. Bode came from no money at all. He really wanted to do it.’

Combined races are as old as any discipline in the sport, but the new super combi race format – consisting of one run of slalom and a shortened downhill – was introduced by the FIS last year.

‘In some ways it takes us back to the roots’ FIS Secretary General Sarah Lewis told Ski Racing magazine in September, ‘because that’s how it used to be.’ (Subscribe to the magazine here.)

The first running of the event was here at Wengen last year. This year, there are three such races on the men’s calendar (at Val d’Isere on Dec. 11 and Chamonix on Feb. 3).
___

Nathaniel Vinton contributed to this reeport.

Men’s combined
Wengen, Switzerland
Jan. 13, 2006

1. Benjamin Raich, AUT 2:38.46
2. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, NOR 2:38.65
3. Peter Fill, ITA 2:38.78
4. Michael Walchhofer, AUT 2:38.82
5. Didier Defago, SUI 2:39.78
6. Kjetil Jansrud, NOR 2:39.90 r>7. Lasse Kjus, NOR 2:39.99
8. Pierrick Bourgeat, FRA 2:40.22
9. Aksel Lund Svindal, NOR 2:40.34
10. Lars Myhre, NOR 2:40.74
11. Silvan Zurbriggen, SUI 2:40.91
12. Rainer Schoenfelder, AUT 2:40.98
13. Jean-Baptiste Granger, FRA 2:41.08
14. Marc Berthod, SUI 2:41.42
15. Andrej Sporn, SLO 2:41.42
16. Lucas Senoner, ITA 2:41.49
17. Ales Gorza, SLO 2:41.61
18. Patrick Staudacher, ITA 2:41.64
19. Steven Nyman, USA 2:42.04
20. Christoph Gruber, AUT 2:42.13
21. Ryan Semple, CAN 2:42.13
21. Ondrej Bank, CZE 2:42.13
23. Hermann Maier, AUT 2:42.15
24. Adrien Theaux, FRA 2:42.45
25. Andrej Jerman, SLO 2:42.78
26. Pierre Paquin, FRA 2:42.97
27. Filip Trejbal, CZE 2:43.11
28. Ivica Kostelic, CRO 2:43.47
29. Scott Macartney, USA 2:43.48
30. Andrej Krizaj, SLO 2:44.27
Other North Americans:
32. Manuel Osborne-Paradis, CAN 2:44.83
DNS DH: Francois Bourque, CAN.
DSQ DH: Daron Rahlves, USA.
DNS SL: Justin Johnson, Marco Sullivan, USA. Erik Guay, CAN.
DNF SL: Ted Ligety, USA; John Kucera, Julien Cousineau, CAN.
DSQ SL: Bode Miller, USA (gate 51-52).

THE SCOOP

By Hank McKee

Equipment
Men’s combined, Wengen, Jan. 13, 2006
Skier, skis/boots/bindings 1. Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic 2. Aamodt, Dynastar/Lange/Tyrolia 3. Fill, Dynastar/Lange/Look 4. Walchhofer, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic 5. Defago, Rossignol/Lange/Rossignol 6. Jansrud, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic 7. Kjus, Dynastar/Lange/Look 8. Bourgeat, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol 9. Svindal, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic 10. Myhre, Nordica/Nordica/Marker

Men’s super combined, Wengen, Switzerland, Jan. 13, 2006. … It is the 19th event of the men’s 34 race, four combined World Cup schedule. … It is the second of four scheduled combineds. … It is the first event of a three-event set at Wengen.

It is the 19th career win for Benjamin Raich. … His second win in combined, and his second straight at Wengen, having won Jan. 14, 2005. … Raich ties Anita Wachter for seventh on the all-time Austrian win list and is the fourth male on the list behind Hermann Maier (51), Stephan Eberharter (29) and Franz Klammer (26). … It is his third win of the season, the other two coming in GS. … He was 10th in the DH, fourth in SL.

It is the 63rd career podium for Kjetil Andre Aamodt. … His 17th in combined in 22 completed combines dating back to January 1992. … It is his second podium of the season, the other in DH at Lake Louise Nov. 26. … He was third in DH, 11th in SL.

It is the first career podium for Peter Fill. … He is 23, from Kastelruth. … His best previous result was fourth in SG at Beaver Creek Dec. 7, 2003. … His best previous result this season was seventh at Beaver Creek DH Dec. 12. … He was also eighth in combined at Val d’Isere Dec. 11. … He was fourth in DH, 12th in SL.

It is the first combined result of Steven Nyman’s career. … He has now scored in every discipline but GS. … It is his seventh career score, and sixth of the season. … He was seventh in DH, 27th in SL. … It is the first combined result for Ryan Semple and his fifth career scoring finish. … second of the season. … He was 30th in DH, 13th in SL. …It is the 11th career scoring result for Scott Macartney and fourth in combined. … He was 16th in combined at Wengen last season and eighth at Wengen in 2003. … It is his fifth scoring result of the season. … He was 14th in DH, 31st in SL.

The Norwegians had not had five skiers in the top 10 of a World Cup since Wengen’s combined in January 1995. … Benjamin Raich extends his lead in the World Cup overall standings to 706-520 over Michael Walchhofer (fourth in event) who moves up from fourth place in the standings. … Bode Miller (SL DSQ) and Daron Rahlves (DH DSQ) are tied for third in the overall standings with 489 points. … Walchhofer leads the combined standings 150-145 over Raich. … Kjetil Aamodt is third at 130. … Miller is the top American in eighth with 60 points. … Winning margin was .19 of a second. … Top four skiers are within one second. … Top nine within two seconds. … Rahlves was one of seven skiers DQ’d at the same place on course (gates 34 & 35).

Wengen: Bode Miller sanctioned for missing bib drawFriday the 13th: Midpoint in the season, with the Lauberhorn in the balance

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