Skier Miller reaches top of World Cup standings
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia (AP) -- Bode Miller is first American man in 20 years to lead the World Cup overall standings.
The skier from Franconia, N.H., won his second straight World Cup giant slalom Saturday, overtaking defending champion Stephan Eberharter for the overall lead. Not since Phil Mahre in 1983 has a U.S. man occupied that spot.
"I had no idea," said Miller, shrugging. "It just goes to show how much importance I give it. I just know it was a great race today and I hope I can carry the momentum into tomorrow's slalom."
The strong showing by the United States was bolstered by Erik Schlopy, who finished fourth. Christian Mayer of Austria was second and Sami Uotila of Finland was third.
"I wanted to see Erik do well as bad as I wanted to win," Miller said. "It's a goal of ours to be on the podium together."
Miller, who also took over first place in the giant slalom standings, had the best time in the second leg after finishing third in the opening run.
He had a combined time of 2 minutes, 4.15 seconds, with Mayer 0.83 seconds behind. Uotila rallied from 14th place to finish in 2:04.99.
This marked the third straight victory for the American men's team, with Miller winning a giant slalom in Alta Badia, Italy, two weeks ago and Daron Rahlves taking a downhill in Bormio, Italy, last week.
"Bode is big about the team," U.S. head coach Phil McNichol said. "He cares so much."
Having a good season
The U.S. team has four top-three finishes this season and has had skiers in the top 10 in all but two races so far.
"I don't think there has been this depth on the team since, well, ... I'd have to look back in the record books," McNichol said. "Once Erik makes the podium, then we'll have three guys capable of reaching the top three."
Miller has 578 points in the overall standings and Eberharter is second at 555.
Eberharter, the Olympic giant slalom champion, was 24th Saturday. He is struggling since hurting his knee during a giant slalom last month. The Austrian missed a downhill and super giant slalom and a giant slalom before Christmas.
"I just don't feel my skis anymore," Eberharter said.
Overtakes Swiss skier
Miller advanced from second in the discipline standings and leads with 325 points. Switzerland's Michael von Gruenigen finished 11th and dropped to second at 302 points.
Schlopy tied for fourth with Austria's Benjamin Raich in 2:05.55. Schlopy's previous best this season was fifth place in Park City, Utah, in November.
This was the seventh race in a row in which an Austrian man failed to win.
Raich, runner-up in the giant slalom standings last season, squandered a 0.42-second lead from the opening leg. He was seeking his first victory of the season.
France's Vincent Millet, second in the opening leg, crashed midway down the second run, spinning wildly into the netting.
Conditions on the Podkoren course were surprisingly good after warm weather and rain two days earlier damaged the run and threatened the race.