Dec 052005
 
Authors: Sarah Rawley

BEAVER CREEK – The U.S. Ski Team's dynamic duo – Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves – brought strength and intensity to the World Cup Tournament for two consecutive days.

With variable snow conditions that delayed several starts on the Birds of Prey racecourse, the world's best ski racers had to hold on tight to finish strong on the second longest Giant Slalom (GS) course on the World Cup Tour. Even U.S. Ski Team superstar Bode Miller almost lost it four gates before the finish.

"I willed my skis around those last gates. Those kind of recoveries are in a different league," Miller said.

The U.S. Ski Team concluded the GS race with its three strongest racers who kept the crowd wild with each racer taking the lead.

Rahlves, who edged out Miller in a one-two U.S. Downhill victory sweep Friday, raced across the finish line just after taking the lead.

Miller, the last racer on the GS course, took the final glory, a mere 0.49 seconds ahead of Rahlves.

It marked the first time U.S. men had gone one-two-four in a World Cup GS and is believed to be the first time U.S. skiers had accomplished the feat since the 1984 Women's Olympic GS in Sarajevo.

The results pushed the U.S. Ski Team to the top of the World Cup overall standings, showing the world that the U.S. Ski Team will have big stakes at the upcoming Olympics at Torino, Italy in February.

For Miller, this race was a boost in confidence, and return to his racing career from last year, when he won four of the first five World Cup races. In three races prior to Friday's, he had failed to finish first, and was 18th and 22nd in the others, respectively.

Miller said the last two days were indicative of the intensity he likes to bring to the course.

"Today showed what we have in ourselves, and that gives us power as a team," Rahlves said.

Kalle Pallander of Finland, the 1995 GS World Champion, had tied Miller in the opening run but ended up with the bronze only 0.01 seconds ahead of fourth place, Erik Schlopy.

"Being the third best American and fourth place, that's something," Schlopy said.

Austrian legend Hermann Maier finished eighth and other American finishes of the day included Dane Spencer in 12th.

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