Kitzbuehel, Austria – American ski racer Bode Miller returned to the podium in Saturday’s storied Hahnenkamm Downhill in Kitzbuehel, finishing in second place behind Switzerland’s Didier Cuche, who won the race by nearly a full second.nSaturday’s finish marked the sixth time Miller has stepped on the podium in Kitzbuehel, Austria, while Cuche matched Franz Klammer’s record of four Hahnenkamm downhill wins. Adrien Theaux, of France, completed Saturday’s podium in third.
“I’ve been in this position before. It would have been great to get a win here. I’ve never won this downhill before. I’ve been a close a couple times and skied really well,” said Miller, of Franconia, N.H. “I was happy with the way I skied today. I put down a pretty good intensity and skied very well.”
There were several crashes on The Streif, a challenging course in which skiers reach speeds of up to 130 kilometres per hour and also have to negotiate large jumps. Miller, known to rise to the occasion in marquee events, acknowledged that the Hahnenkamm downhill is a special race.
“This course always gets you a little more amped up, a little more excited than the other courses, especially when it skis like it did this year – it was pretty tough,” he said.
Miller struck a gracious note, however, giving credit to Cuche for a run that propelled him well ahead of the field. “Didier skied phenomenal. He took a lot of risks. He has this course pretty figured out, where to take risks and where not to, and then on the easier parts he doesn’t make any mistakes,” Miller said. “He leaves no room for anyone to gain time, especially if the skis were running as well as they were today.”
Miller’s U.S. teammates all finished well back in the pack on Saturday. Park City, Utah’s Ted Ligety finished in 27th, just a few hundredths ahead of Travis Ganong, of Olympic Valley, Calif., who stopped the timer in 28th. Steven Nyman, of Heber City, Utah, rounded out the U.S. results in 36th. Ligety, however, remained undeterred.
“I think I need a little more time on my super G skis to be a contender and in downhill I’m not contending for anything other than few points here and there, so it’s just more for fun,” Ligety said after Saturday’s race.
Canada’s Erik Guay laid down another solid performance on Saturday to cap a successful return from injury on what is considered the toughest course on the World Cup circuit. The 29-year-old, of Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, who didn’t race for a month due to a lower back problem, followed up an 11th place finish in Friday’s super G by finishing 16th in Saturday’s downhill.
“All things considered, I think it was a pretty solid weekend. It wasn’t an ideal run but it’s tough to come back on Kitzbuehel,” said Guay. “I had some good splits, especially, and some good sections.”
Guay’s run came as the Canadian team also celebrated a stirring effort from young Ben Thomsen, of Invermere, British Columbia, who picked up some World Cup points with a top-30 finish. Manuel Osborne-Paradis, of Vancouver, British Columbia, missed a gate and did not finish, while Ryan Semple, of Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, finished 46th.
Audi FIS Alpine World Cup
Kitzbuehel, Austria – Jan. 22, 2011
1. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 1:57.72
2. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 1:58.70
3. Adrien Theaux, France, 1:58.90