No one is ruling out Bode Miller
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
ARE, Sweden ” Bode Miller wants to become the first man with world championship titles in all five disciplines, and the only one missing from his collection is the slalom.
Though the American heads into Saturday’s race having finished just one slalom in the last 13 months, no one is willing to rule out a Miller victory.
“The results haven’t been there to support that, and he’ll have to dig deep for it,” said U.S. men’s head coach Phil McNichol. “But people still believe he can do anything. He’s proven in the past so many times that he can.”
Miller has five World Cup slalom wins, but none since December 2004. In recent years, he’s focused more on the downhill and super-giant slalom ” speed events that require different skills than the technique-oriented slalom.
“We got some work to do. I’ve been skiing every day in the afternoon,” Miller said. “The skis are better ” we’ve been testing stuff out ” but it’s still a long way to go to be competing with (Benjamin) Raich and those guys.”
The Olympic and world slalom champion, Raich seems in best position to win more gold. Sweden’s Jens Byggmark, who had back-to-back wins at Kitzbuehel, Austria, and a second place behind Raich in the night race at Schladming, is another favorite. So is his teammate Markus Larsson.
But they won’t dismiss Miller.
“Bode Miller can do anything. I think he can do it,” said Byggmark, who leads the World Cup slalom standings.
Raich, who went out on the first leg of Wednesday’s giant slalom, is also wary of Miller.
“He’s not bad in slalom. As you saw in Kitzbuehel, he was very fast. But it’s hard work for him,” Raich said.
Slalom used to be one of Miller’s strongest disciplines. But since bulking up for the speed events, his technical events have suffered. Lighter skiers tend to be more agile and do better in slalom. In his slalom heyday, Miller weighed 185 pounds. He now weighs in at around 215.
“Right now slalom is a personal struggle for him,” McNichol said. “I’ve never seen him come up against something in skiing that’s been such a challenge for him. It’s his Gordian knot. He just can’t seem to get this one solved.”
Miller is famous for being able to shrug off hard times.
After emerging as a top skier in 1999 with fourth-place finishes in a pair of World Cup slalom races, Miller went on a 17-race bust, failing to finish a slalom for 33 months. But he suddenly returned to form in 2001 to finish that season runner-up in the World Cup slalom standings.
“His struggle in the slalom is a bit different from anything he’s ever encountered, but it’s not messing with his head as it would other people,” McNichol said. “Though it’s still a challenge for his confidence and psyche, he’s never let defeat or trouble hinder his ability to stay positive.”
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U.S. Ski & Snowboard on Tuesday made the official announcement that World Cup Alpine skiing is returning to Aspen Mountain in March with men’s super-G and downhill racing, part of a revamped schedule by the International Ski Federation for the 2022-23 season.