Herbst wins men’s World Cup slalom; Miller DQd
Ryan Summerlin November 15, 2009
LEVI, Finland – Reinfried Herbst of Austria won the men’s World Cup slalom opener on Sunday, and American Bode Miller was disqualified in his first race of the season.
Herbst posted a two-run time of 1 minute, 49.79 seconds down the Black Course to beat runner-up Ivica Kostelic of Croatia by 0.28 seconds. It was Herbst’s sixth career World Cup victory, all in slalom.
“In the first run I skied well, I had everything under control and made no big mistakes,” Herbst said. “In the second run I was very fast on the flat parts. It was important to push from the first until the last gate.”
Reigning World Cup slalom champion Jean-Baptiste Grange of France, last year’s winner in Levi, finished third, 0.53 behind.
Miller barely qualified for the second run, finishing 30th in the opener to take the last slot. The former two-time overall champion got hit in the face by a gate early in the second run and did not finish.
“Bode was trying a lot of things in the first run, but he was still able to get a second run and then was skiing really well on the top before he got hit in the face with a gate,” said U.S. technical head coach Rudi Soulard.
“His nose was bleeding pretty bad and he has a fat lip, but he’s OK,” Soulard said. “His skiing is not where he needs to be yet, but he’s doing all the right things to get there.”
A year ago, Miller finished second in the slalom opener in Levi. That was his best result of the season and his first slalom podium since December 2004. Last season was the first in which he failed to win a race in nearly 10 years.
He cut the season short and skipped the World Cup Finals in Sweden after failing to medal at the world championships – the third straight major championship where he failed to make the podium.
Ted Ligety and Jimmy Cochran of the U.S. finished 18th and 19th, respectively.
Most of the skiers had trouble with the steep section at the top of the course in the second run, with competitors being kicked out of line and ending up below the level of the next gate.
“I guess everyone had some kind of trouble there,” Kostelic said. “I was speaking to my sister later and she told me that actually there was a rut and she said that everyone was hitting this rut.”
Kostelic leads the overall standings with 102 points, two ahead of Herbst and speed specialist Didier Cuche of Switzerland after two races.
First-run leader Andre Myhrer of Sweden made several mistakes in the second round and dropped to 11th, 1.41 behind.