Zagreb Adelboden Wengen
they were getting impatient to come out of a delay above the final pitch.
Of the top five scorers — Lizeroux, Hirscher, Kostelic, Benjamin Raich and
Matthias Hargin — only Lizeroux had been on a slalom podium earlier in the
season. The standings had tightened up and slaloms were coming at them…
well, like gates in a slalom.
The 80th Lauberhorn provided plenty of distractions, such as Bode Miller
erupting for a workmanlike combined win and a Swiss downhill win from
Carlo Janka that elevated the party atmosphere in Wengen so high the Euro
techno music was still throbbing Sunday morning.
The combined was the first race up and it was a beauty for Bodenation.
Miller won the downhill leg, was elated his team had gotten his ski set-up dialed in, and then skied a smart, tactical slalom leg and got his first win since
the end of the 2008 season. It was a seemingly stunning win and it kept the
spectators, wound up like a Swiss clock, from a total eruption as two home
standing men, Carlo Janka and Silvan Zurbriggen, respectively finished 2-3
and Austrian Benjamin Raich (battling with Janka for the top overall spot
in the Cup standings) got pushed to fourth.
Fifth went to Ligety, an indicator of his still-growing prowess as the best he
has ever done in the two-event discipline is fourth. “I knew I had to make up
time, so I was going hard,” he said, “but I wanted to make the finish line, too.
I think I was more toward the side of taking it easy.” With a recent rash of
DNFs in slalom, he was determined to get things back on track for the nasty
string of slaloms ahead. “I wanted to get a little confidence, get to the finish
and not be too slow,” he said. Mission accomplished.
The story of the day, though, was Miller. Despite not skiing well — in his estimation — he got the result that pushed the Swiss out of the win column.
His equipment is getting dialed in; this is a process normally done much
earlier in the season, or pre-season, but his late start has made that a difficult task to be squeezed in among races, training and the never-ending
travel. Now, says Miller, he can focus on the actual racing, to putting down
“extreme runs,” runs that will win a race against anybody anytime. And make
no mistake, the idea is to have those runs surfacing at the Games.
“That was the idea,” said Miller. “When I came back we started looking at
my program and where I was going to peak and ski strong.” This stretch of
January was where it was decided he would need to start if the end-all was
to be on target. “These couple of weeks — Wengen, Kitzbuehel — and then
carry it right into the Games. It was a kind of natural peak of things.”
Success for Bode Miller is not the same as it is for everyone else. Where others can be satisfied with gold medals and race wins, Miller needs something
more. Miller wants to put down performances where “you beat everybody
whether they ski their best or not. With the set-ups I have now I feel like
anybody can ski their best and I can go down and beat them if I ski well.”
Miller looked like he might do that the next day in the big race, the Lauberhorn downhill. And he nearly carried it off despite a big error high on the
course. Because of the early error Bode took a gamble just above the finish
in the portion of the track known as the super G turns. “I was really direct
into the turns, which is where I made that mistake yesterday and I made the
same mistake today,” he said. “It’s risky, but you can pull it off.”
But he didn’t. Instead, to the delight of the red-flag waving Swiss, Miller
went out and Janka posted perhaps the greatest win of his still brief career.
“It is the race every Swiss skier dreams of winning,” he said before being
whisked off to be the focal point of a thousand toasts.
In second, to his own surprise, was Canadian Manuel Osborne-Paradis.
All week in training the “Manimal” had been slow. He wasn’t seeing well in
Steve Nyman collected m points in the Lauberh down
Ted Ligety skied safe and fast.
GEPA ( 6)