Miller aims to break world record

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KITZBUEHEL, Austria (AP) – If Bode Miller wants to become the only man to win world championship gold medals in all five disciplines, he’ll first need to secure a slalom spot on the U.S. team.

Miller, who won titles in the downhill, super-G, giant slalom and the combined event over the last two worlds, is only missing a slalom gold to complete the set.

Miller will have three chances over the next four days to qualify for the slalom at the world championships, which begin Feb. 3 in Are, Sweden.

“I haven’t qualified for it yet. That’s one of the things I’ve got to work on the next few days,” Miller said.

A pair of slaloms are scheduled Saturday and Sunday at Kitzbuehel with another on Tuesday night under the floodlights of nearby Schladming.

Toni Sailer of Austria came the closest to the record, sweeping gold in the slalom, giant slalom, downhill and combined races at one world championship – the 1956 worlds in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. But the super-G didn’t exist in those days. It was only introduced to the world championships in 1987.

“That’s something I think would be a nice record to have before I stop,” Miller said.

The 29-year-old Miller said he would likely continue racing at least until his two-year contract with ski supplier Head expires at the end of next season. The next world championships are in 2009.

“I’d like to ski at least through the end of the contract,” he said. “But I’m a pretty spontaneous kid so once in a while I make a decision which doesn’t line up with where things are.

“But as of now I feel pretty good. I feel comfortable. My injuries aren’t hampering me too badly. I just have to see where it goes.”

Nations are allowed to enter four athletes in each discipline. The world champion in a discipline gets an automatic extra berth.

Olympic combined champion Ted Ligety and Jimmy Cochran have already met the criteria set by the U.S. team. Ligety because he finished second in a World Cup slalom at Alta Badia, Italy, and Cochran because of two top-20 results this season.

Miller hasn’t completed a slalom in more than a year. The last time he finished a slalom was here on Jan. 22 last year, when he placed 18th.

Miller has five career World Cup slalom victories, but the last one dates back to Dec. 13, 2004, in Sestriere, Italy.

“I’d like to think I’ll get a spot if no one else qualifies,” Miller said. “I need a strong result in the next three races, otherwise I could not even get a start position.”

The hill in Kitzbuehel could well suit Miller as it’s about 100 feet longer than usual and a lot flatter.

Miller has four World Cup victories this season, two in downhill and two in super-G. He also finished runner-up in a giant slalom at Alta Badia.

In 2005, Miller won gold in the downhill and super-G in Bormio, Italy. In 2003, he was giant slalom and combined gold medalist and super-G silver medalist.

AP-ES-01-26-07 2023EST

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