Miller avoids crash, impresses Klammer in Austria |

Miller avoids crash, impresses Klammer in Austria

Eric Willemsen
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Bode Miller, of the United States, gets to the finish area after completing an alpine ski, men's World Cup downhill, in Kitzbuehel, Austria, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

KITZBUEHEL, Austria – Bode Miller got a slap on the back from Austrian great Franz Klammer after narrowly escaping a crash on the famed Streif course.

Miller didn’t get his first victory at the classic World Cup downhill on Saturday, but he got style points for a save at 80 mph.

The 34-year-old Miller caught an icy bump at the Hausbergkante, one of the most challenging parts of the course. It hit one of his skis so badly that it almost came off.

“Going across the Hausberg and your ski goes like that,” Miller told The Associated Press, “it feels a lot worse than it looked” on the TV screen for a crowd of about 25,000.

“Those are life-savers,” he said. “One hundred points is great, but I always try to be at the finish with all my parts intact. That was obviously, in some ways, better than a win, so I am happy.”

Miller quickly reacted and found his balance, but lost speed. He finished 29th, 1.35 seconds behind Didier Cuche of Switzerland, who won a record fifth time on the course. Cuche overtook Klammer, who won the Hahnenkamm downhill four times in the 1970s and 80s.

The Austrian great congratulated Cuche and met Miller after he safely made it through the finish.

“People like to see this as much as they want to see a victory,” Klammer told the American.

Miller said it was a close call.

“My ski almost came all the way off,” he said. “You can feel it when it comes out of your binding like that. It almost came off all the way, then kicked back in.”

Miller’s had other spectacular escapes on the Streif.

Four years ago, he was thrown wide in a long right turn and avoided a crash by riding the fence with both skis before getting back on the course – and finishing in second place.

This time, Miller was fighting the conditions, which worsened during the race with increased snowfall. The starting point on the course had already be significantly lowered, shortening it from 3.3 kilometers to 2.

“These were less-than-ideal conditions. I was pushing pretty hard, I knew I had to take some risks,” Miller said.

He agreed with the decision to stage the race after the super G was canceled Friday to avoid damage to the course.

“It’s not dangerous, it’s just dangerous the way downhill is,” Miller said. “The visibility is OK, considering the light. They took all the teeth out of the course. And people want to see a race. It’s worth it.”

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