Fri, Dec 22, 2006 - Page 23 News List

US skiiers enjoy a special week in the Austrian Alps

AP , HINTERSTODER AND HINTERSTODER, AUSTRIA

The US' Bode Miller skis on his way to victory in the men's Super-G in Hinterstoder, Austria, on Wednesday.

PHOTO: EPA

It's been a big week for Americans in the Alps. Too bad it came 10 months too late for the Turin Olympics.

Bode Miller won a super-giant slalom in Hinterstoder on Wednesday, 90 minutes after Lindsey Kildow and Julia Mancuso finished 1-2 in a downhill at Val d'Isere, France. Those successes gave the US team five wins and an unprecedented nine podium results in the past six days.

Miller's win, his third of the season, moved him atop the overall World Cup standings.

The US skiers' dominance on the slopes is in stark contrast to their disappointing showing in February, when they went to Turin aiming for eight medals but came home with only two. Miller was a flop at the Games, failing to win a medal after being among the favorites in all five events.

"We're having unprecedented results with regards to the number of different athletes reaching the podium," US Alpine director Jesse Hunt said. "Five different athletes have made the podium in six days of racing. It's unbelievable. The athletes are feeding off each other in terms of confidence and momentum. It's pretty cool."

In addition to Miller and Kildow, wins in the past week have come from Mancuso and Steven Nyman. It was the first World Cup victory for each.

The US squad's podium finishes in the past six days have come in all disciplines -- slalom, giant slalom, super-G and downhill. It is the most impressive streak for the US team since 1983.

The success has come amid a continuing battle between Miller and the US team over new rules that require skiers to stay at the team hotel during races.

Miller would prefer to stay in his motorhome.

But opponents say they see a change in Miller since the Turin Games, where he made headlines with his partying instead of his skiing.

"Last year, every time I went out at night I saw Bode and he was going home after me," Austrian men's head coach Toni Giger told the press. "This year I haven't seen him too often when I go out. I think he's more focused on his skiing and less on going out and drinking and having fun."

"He has good motivation. He's changed his skis. He always was a very talented skier, so this combination makes him stronger," he said.

Yesterday's Action

Aksel Lund Svindal, who lost the World Cup overall lead to Bode Miller just 24 hours earlier, posted the fastest time in the opening leg of a men's giant slalom yesterday.

After a 30-minute delay because of fog and icy rain, Svindal negotiated his way through the 48 gates of the Wertung course in 1 minute, 12.91 seconds.

"It was difficult because of the snow conditions," Svindal said. "In some places it was icy and in others the snow was loose with what we call `death cookies.' It wasn't super smooth but I had a good rhythm and I didn't make any big mistakes. It was pretty good skiing."

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