AN INTERVIEW WITH BODE MILLER

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Olympic medalist and reigning giant slalom world champion Bode Miller [Franconia, NH] said in early September that since there are no Olympics nor any World Championships this season, he was looking to win a World Cup title this winter. The only skier, male or female, to compete in every race during the 2003 season, Miller got his pursuit of a title off on the right foot Sunday, winning the men's opening GS in Soelden, Austria. He had the fastest time in each run.



Reigning giant slalom world champion Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) made his head coach look like a prophet - and lived up to the media's billing as pre-race favorite - as he produced the fastest time on both runs Sunday, capturing the opening men's World Cup race of the season by more than a second on an icy course set on the Rettenbach Glacier. No other U.S. skier made the second run.



His win marked the first time a U.S. skier won the opening race of the season, whether early-early season or the old end-of-November start dates. (When Julie Parisien won the SL at Park City in November 1993, it was the third race of the winter.)



"I didn't really ski my best the first run," Miller said, "so to have the lead really gave me confidence. I was taking some risk in the second run, but I knew I had to. I felt really comfortable and when I crossed the finish line I knew I had won."



"The first course was nothing like I've ever seen before. And especially with the snow conditions the way they were. If it had been softer it would have been a lot easier. But you were going down the hill so directly and the speeds were so high, but the snow was also a little grippy. But you can't just slide into the turn to control your speed because your ski would catch. I like this kind of course, personally. It was so nerve-wracking how it was set, especially with it being the first race of the season."

"There was plenty of opportunity in each run for things to go differently. But I had great preparation from our Team and today it really worked for me."



"In the second run I was a lot more used to the snow. The first was the first time I really had taken a run on that snow. At least after that I had a little bit of knowledge and was able to change my tactics a bit.



<Today was really icy and FIS has said it would be preparing harder and icier courses this year.>
"For myself, personally, I would rather have changing conditions. But it definitely makes it more fair for the later guys. You saw that in the first run today with a lot of guys [from outside the first 30 starters] qualifying. I think that's great and much more exciting to give those guys a chance to show what they can do."



<Were the courses difficult?>
"I was actually really surprised. The first course was nothing like I've ever seen before. And especially with the snow conditions the way they were. If it had been softer it would have been a lot easier. But you were going down the hill so directly and the speeds were so high, but the snow was also a little grippy. But you can't just slide into the turn to control your speed because your ski would catch. I like this kind of course personally. It was so nerve wracking how it was set, especially with it being the first race of the season."



<You were second last season and you've said you want to win overall World Cup.>
"The overall World Cup is something to talk about after one race. I wish they would give it to me right now, but I don't think that's going to happen -- at least no one's approached me with that option. I guess there's a few guys who win the first race and go on to win the overall title. But I think it's a good foundation for the season. I feel relaxed, though, and I feel I have more control on the things around me this year."

<How much of a difference are the skis making this year?>
"I was really impressed with the change and the progression so far this season. Rossignol is working really hard all the time testing. I'm actually on a very similar ski this year to what I was on last year. On every condition, especially on flatter sections of the course, this ski is far and way the best ski out there.



<The French were 2-3; the top Austrian was fifth. What about the French and Austrians?>
"I'm not at all surprised about the French. Everyone's seen [second-place finisher Frederic] Covili been really strong the last three years, and I think they have a good team, they all push each other, they're all good friends. They're one of the best teams out there. They come out and ski hard. They always push. So I'm not surprised at all.
"I'm a little surprised to not see the Austrians closer. It was just one of those days, it happens to everyone. But they're too strong a team not to be on the podium."



<Last year some said your technical skiing suffered because you skied speed events.>
"I heard a lot about how my technical skiing suffered last year. I think it was just one of those years. I was still second in GS and in slalom I was still in the top three despite having a lot of mistakes and DNFs. So it couldn't have suffered that badly."



Miller, who turned 26 two weeks ago, started seventh in the first run. He held a lead of nine-hundredths of a second over Frenchman Fredric Covili going into the final run - and he tore through the sun-bathed second course, which organizers iced after clearing a late-week storm that dumped about eight inches on the glacier. His winning time was 2:09.58.

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