LAKE LOUISE, Alberta (AP) – Bode Miller flailed, faltered and fumbled.

In the end, Miller’s best move was a nimble jump over the fencing in the finish area that allowed him to avoid explaining his tumultuous run at the season’s first World Cup downhill race on Saturday.

One of the circuit’s top gliders, Miller entered the race as a favorite, having posted his first World Cup downhill victory here last year with a dominant run.

But the World Cup overall champion never looked in contention as he wobbled down the men’s Olympic course barely in control to finish a distant 22nd, 1.47 seconds off the pace set by reigning Olympic champion Fritz Strobl of Austria.

Conditions at the Canadian Rocky Mountain resort of Lake Louise were expected to play to Miller’s advantage, with warm weather forcing officials to shorten the course by almost 985 feet, ideal for the circuit’s heavier and powerful gliders.

But Miller, like many of the other top contenders, had an unfortunate starting position after skiing fast in Friday’s training session.

The top 30 skiers in the final scheduled training session started in reverse order for the race. Posting the fifth-best time in training, Miller was forced to start 26th.

Conditions became more difficult for late starters because of warming temperatures and a light snowfall after the 21st skier kicked out of the hut.

Miller struggled from the start. He almost missed the first gate and then, as he was settling into his tuck on the upper flat, his right foot moved out from under him.

Miller had trouble with his right ski on several occasions and he lost his footing a number of times throughout the race, never appearing to be in control.

Miller, the first American to win the overall title in 22 years, appeared unruffled in the finish area, but avoided waiting television crews and journalists by leaping over a mesh fence to make an escape.

Strobl performed two dashes on the day, one on the race hill and another to recover the speed suit he had forgotten at the team’s hotel before the race. The 33-year-old Austrian won in 1 minute, 40.96 seconds, 0.09 ahead of another veteran, Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway.

Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein was third in 1:41.11, edging four-time overall champion Hermann Maier.

Michael Walchhofer, the reigning World Cup downhill champion, finished seventh, 0.69 behind teammate Strobl.

American Daron Rahlves finished 32nd, more than two seconds behind. The shortened course was ill-suited to the American, who at 185 pounds, lacks the mass to carry him across the flats.

“I have to do more in sections where it involves turns and technique to carry speed into flats,” he said.

“It hurts me at the top here because it starts so slow you have to get right into your tuck and get into gliding. For the heavier guys it’s not so tough to carry speed, build some speed and accelerate.

“To win the downhill title you have to step up and hit every race hard and try to be consistent the whole season. This is difficult to swallow for sure.”

The top American was Steve Nyman, who tied for 14th with Switzerland’s Ambrosi Hoffman in 1:42.01. Nyman was returning from a shin injury while training in Italy last February.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.