Three-time Olympian Bode Miller has turned up the downhill heat on European slopes as the 2007-08 Audi FIS Men's World Cup has reached its January marquee events.
Miller, 30, won Saturday's 78th Lauberhorn men's downhill at Wengen, Switz. and tied Phil Mahre as the winningest American racers on the World Cup alpine ski tour. The 6-2, 210-pound renegade from Bretton Woods, N.H. captured his 27th World Cup victory by hammering the middle section for his second straight triumph on the longest track (2.8 miles) on the Audi tour.
His final time was two minutes, 30.40 seconds. It was Miller's second straight DH victory in the tour. He won at Bormio, Italy Dec. 29 and was eighth at Val Gardena Italy Dec. 15.
Last January 13 Carrabassett Valley Academy product Miller earned his first-ever European downhill victory by .65 seconds over eventual World Cup DH king Didier Cuche of Switzerland. On Saturday, Bode collected his second consecutive Lauberhorn triumph by the identical .65 second-margin over Cuche.
"There was no braking, no backing off," said Miller, who broke away from the U.S. Ski Team after 10 years to compete on his own this World Cup season.
He said, "It didn't feel that good in terms of the quality of the skiing, but I was very aggressive. I kept really pushing forward the whole time." U.S. coach Chris Brigham added that Miller did some "fantastic skiing. He crushed it."
Miller said that finishing third Friday in the super combined event at Wengen helped him sort out some speed sections during the shortened downhill and one-run slalom format. He said, "I learned there were curves I couldn't ski full speed. I took them a bit slower today and had a tighter line. I'm proud of the way I skied."
Bode is now tied with the 50-year-old U.S. gate ace from Yakima, Wash. who was World Cup overall champion from 1981-83 and won the 1984 Olympic slalom gold medal.
Mahre's 27 World Cup wins include 11 combined triumphs, nine slaloms and seven giant slaloms. Miller's 27-win career shows nine GS wins plus six in downhill, five in super giant slalom, five in slalom, and two more in combined.
With Sunday's result, Miller moved into second place in the current overall standings on the tour, just 79 points behind leader Benjamin Raich of Austria. Bode pulled closer to the top in the downhill standings where Cuche leads him by the tiniest margin, 284-283.
Next, the men race Jan. 18-20 during the 68th Hahnenkamm weekend (SG Friday, DH Saturday, slalom combined Sunday) at Kitzbuehel, Austria. The women's tour resumes Jan. 18 with downhill plus two SGs at Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, site of the 1956 Winter Olympic Games.
Current men's and women's leaders and top Americans:
Men's overall: 1—Benjamin Raich (Aust.) 690 points. 2—Bode Miller (Team America) 611. 3—Didier Cuche (Switz.) 605. 6—Ted Ligety (U.S.) 440.
Men's downhill: 1—Didier Cuche 284. 2—Bode Miller 283.
Men's slalom: 1—Jean-Baptiste Grange (Fra.) 276. 2—Benjamin Raich 216. 11—Ted Ligety 120.
Men's giant slalom: 1—Daniel Albrecht (Switz.) 258. 2—Benjamin Raich 248. 4—Ted Ligety 235.
Men's super giant slalom: 1—Didier Cuche (Switz.) 184. 2—Benjamin Raich 161. 11—Bode Miller 87.
Men's super combined: 1 (tie)—Daniel Albrecht and Jean-Baptiste Grange 180. 3—Bode Miller 110.
Women's overall: 1—Nicole Hosp (Aust.) 699 points. 4—Lindsey Vonn (U.S.) 538 points. 6—Julia Mancuso 523.
Women's downhill: 1—Lindsey Vonn 330. 2—Britt Janyk (Can.) 224. 8—Julia Mancuso 121.
Women's slalom: 1—Nicole Hosp 405.
Women's giant slalom: 1—Denise Karbon (Italy) 460. 4—Julia Mancuso 229.
Women's super giant slalom: 1—Anja Paerson 136. 12—Julia Mancuso 50.
Women's super combined: 1—Lindsey Vonn 100. 3—Julia Mancuso 60.