Olympic champion Raich wins slalom
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
SCHLADMING, Austria ” Olympic champion Benjamin Raich won a World Cup slalom on Tuesday night, the last race before the world championships. Bode Miller finished a World Cup slalom for the first time in more than a year, but finished 25th.
Raich, who was second after the opening leg, charged down the floodlit Planai course in a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 42.55 seconds. Sweden’s Jens Byggmark, the winner of consecutive slaloms in Kitzbuehel last weekend, was runner-up in 1:42.93. Mario Matt of Austria was third.
Miller skidded onto his right hip a few gates into the second run and had to hike back up the course to rerun the gate. He was last among those who finished both runs, nearly 10 seconds slower than Raich, and did not earn any World Cup points because he was too far behind the winner.
But just qualifying for the second leg likely secured Miller a berth in the slalom at next month’s worlds in Are, Sweden. Miller wants to become the first skier to collect world championship gold medals in all five disciplines. He is missing only the slalom gold.
Up to four skiers per nation can enter each discipline. Olympic combined champion Ted Ligety, who finished 17th on Tuesday, and Jimmy Cochran already have secured berths for the United States. Miller, Tom Rothrock and Tim Jitloff were vying for the last two spots, but Rothrock and Jitloff failed to finish in the top 30 of the first run Tuesday and did not qualify for the second run.
Miller completed a World Cup slalom for the first time since finishing 18th in Kitzbuehel, Austria, on Jan. 22, 2006.
“Bode qualified for second runs in Adelboden and in Kitzbuehel,” U.S. coach Phil McNichol said. “Tim and Tom have not qualified for second runs yet. That’s clearly something.”
Ligety competed a day after being involved in a minor car accident. Ligety and U.S. teammate Roger Brown were headed to their hotel Monday afternoon when their four-wheel-drive car rolled off the road. Neither athlete was hurt.
Let’s make some skiing predictions. I made my X Games snowboarding predictions a day earlier and remain only mildly lukewarm in terms of confidence, but maybe I’ll feel better about the skiers.