fast. Tommy Ford has registered four scoring finishes while Leanne Smith, Marco Sullivan, and
Stacey Cook each have four scoring results. In total, 17 racers have scored points, including Julia
Mancuso with two podiums and Miller with the downhill win at Beaver Creek.
So read these race reports closely. It’s a fun read.
Men’s Downhill, Dec. 2
No one does risk like Bode Miller.
Despite a decided lack of training time, Miller elected, as he usually does, to put it all on the line in
hopes of picking up his first downhill win at Beaver Creek in five seasons. He won here at the height
of his career in 2004 and 2006. But he is 34 now, an age when most start to realize their mortality,
and he hadn’t won a downhill anywhere since the 2008 season. Such statistics are of no concern
to Bode Miller.
He believes in what he does on a racecourse, and knows he is the reason many people around the
globe have come to be fans of the sport he loves.
The course, Birds of Prey, gave him a perfect platform to give his fans, and himself a sense of
euphoria. A thick and loud crowd helped the inspiration. He delivered exactly what he set out to.
Although, it should be noted, he nearly got beat.
He said he was nervous in the start about taking the necessary risk to win. “I know that’s what I
have to do,” he said. “And I’m committed to doing it, but it builds huge anxiety in the start when you
know you’re about to do something that’s terribly risky and sketchy.”
Birds of Prey, after an inauspicious start to the week (see the story on page 22) was perfect for his
purpose. “It gets a little chewed up; there’s 70 guys running it three times, so over the Brink it definitely gets a little hacked up, but it’s absolutely a pleasure to ski it,” he said. “It’s smooth and grippy
and a consistent surface top to bottom.”
So Miller put the hammer down as only he can, skiing with immense intensity as his fans roared
with approval at every near-miscue.
He tucked in places his coach said he had never seen him tuck before. His arms waved around as
he struggled to keep a line that challenged the laws of nature. He may have even amazed himself.
“You can’t take that kind of risk unless there’s something really on the line,” said Miller. “I realize I
never skied that course with that kind of risk before. Seven out of 10 times it doesn’t work ... It was
a pleasure to get to the finish. You’re going so fast, so close to the edge. I’m not moving my hands
of my own accord; it’s all reaction to stay balanced on the edge, and the edge is so responsive to
the snow that it kind of catches you all the time. That’s why you see guys get thrown around... Yeah,
I had a couple of real close calls today.”
And he took the lead. But running 12th, there were plenty of racers remaining who have been more
successful downhillers over the past few seasons. And they knew what they had to beat. “I saw the
time on the start,” said Austrian Klaus Kroell, who would come within a couple of tenths of a second
of taking away Bode’s win. “I knew it would be very tough to beat him, I tried my best.”
Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, 10 years younger than Miller, got even closer, four hundredths. The rest
were a second or more behind.
“I knew the run I put down was the best I could ski today,” said Miller. “Four hundredths is not a lot
of time at that speed. ... After a mile and a half of racing it comes down to a foot and a half.”
It was a spectacular showing on what would turn out to be an incredibly successful week of ski racing for the U.S. team. Bode Miller won on his own terms in front of a home crowd.
“I think it’s what skiing needs right now,” said Miller. “Right now, more and more times you see
athletes master the course, but they’re not committed to the risk. I think it’s a shame. If I can do it,
Those fans lucky enough to have witnessed it will remember December 2011 in Beaver Creek for
a long, long time.