Byggmark makes a big mark in slalom
January 27, 2007
KITZBUEHEL, Austria – Jens Byggmark won his first World Cup race Saturday with a surprising victory in a slalom, while American Bode Miller lost a ski and crashed on his first run.
The 21-year-old Swede, who had the fastest opening run, delivered a second brilliant run down the Ganslern course to win with a combined time of 1 minute, 43.74 seconds.
“It’s amazing,” Byggmark said. “After the first run, I tried not to expect anything.”
It is Byggmark’s first full season on the World Cup circuit.
Miller lost his right ski during his first run, and has now gone nearly a year without completing a slalom event.
Austria’s Mario Matt improved on his third-place finish from the last slalom at Adelboden, Switzerland, three weeks ago, finishing second in 1:44.61.
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Germany’s Alois Vogl was third in 1:45.22.
Olympic champion Benjamin Raich, who was third going into the second run, dropped into fifth.
Switzerland’s Marc Berthod, the surprise winner of the slushy slalom at Adelboden, crossed second after the opening leg but straddled a gate on his second trip down.
Discipline leader Markus Larsson of Sweden fell and failed to qualify for the second run.
Miller, still seeking a berth on the U.S. slalom squad for the upcoming world championships in Are, Sweden, had a disastrous run.
He straddled a gate midway down, then hiked back up two sets of gates to rerun it. Moments later, he lost his right ski on a left turn and crashed. It was the second time in two weeks Miller lost his right ski in a slalom.
In Adelboden, he was the only American to qualify for the second leg but his ski inexplicably popped off midway down the next run.
“It’s the same problem as in Adelboden,” said Rainer Salzgeber, who works for Head ” the company that makes Miller’s skis. “In a way, he is the only guy who has a problem like that.”
Salzgeber said the company had found a solution to Miller’s binding plight, but the American felt the adjustments could lead to more problems.
Miller, 29, has finished only three of his last 20 World Cup slalom races. The last time he finished one was here last season when was 18th. His last World Cup slalom victory dates back to December 2004 at Sestriere, Italy.
Miller will have another chance in Sunday’s slalom to secure a spot for the worlds, which begin Feb. 3. Another slalom is scheduled Tuesday night at nearby Schladming.
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