Miller loses ski, chance to end slump |

Miller loses ski, chance to end slump

Erica Bulman
The Associated Press

Aspen, CO Colorado

ADELBODEN, Switzerland ” It was yet another lost ski and even more importantly, a lost opportunity for Bode Miller.

Sitting 11th after the opening leg, Miller looked poised to finish a World Cup slalom for the first time in almost a year when his right ski popped off during the second run Sunday for no apparent reason.

He left the race hill without talking to journalists so it was difficult to know exactly what happened but both U.S. coaches and his ski manufacturers were baffled.

“His ski just came right off, dropped off his foot after the turn,” U.S. men’s head coach Phil McNichol said. “But he skied really well today. He was in good slalom form. It’s horrible luck.”

While Miller places unusual stress on his ski bindings and has long worked with his ski brand of the moment to address the challenge, it is unclear whether this time it was anything he did or simply bad luck.

The toe of Miller’s boot came out, which can be caused by several things, including ice build-up under the boot, poorly adjusted bindings or badly clipping the boot into the binding.

“It’s too early to say why it happened,” said Rainer Salzgeber, who works for Head ” the company that makes Miller’s skis. “We have to go back to the factory and check all the possibilities, together with the ski and boot.

“There has not been this kind of problem with the binding before, not in this way.”

Miller is not unfamiliar with losing his skis midway through a race. The most famous example was at the 2005 world championships in Bormio, Italy, where he lost a board in the downhill and tried to complete the course on one leg.

That was a big race to lose, but somehow didn’t seem quite as unlucky as Sunday’s slalom misfortune.

The last time Miller completed a slalom was Jan. 22 at Kitzbuehel, Austria, where he finished 18th.

The 29-year-old American has completed only three of his last 19 World Cup slalom races. He has not won a slalom since Dec. 13, 2004, in Sestriere, Italy.

Though he has been criticized for his recent slalom slump, there are a number of reasons for it.

After becoming more focused on the downhill and super-G in his quest for the overall title ” Miller was required to spend more time developing and training the different skills necessary for those events. This often came at the cost of nurturing those needed in the turn-heavy slalom.

He also bulked up about 35 pounds for the speed events, and struggled with his skis as well as knee injuries.

Because slalom is raced over two legs, it has been a special challenge for Miller, who often chooses speed and risk over caution and certainty.

But McNichol said Miller had been working at restraint.

“That’s what he’s been trying to do in slalom, to maintain his risk and not do anything too special but still be in the game,” McNichol said. “He skied really solid today. It was actually smart skiing.”