Miller sixth, Nyman ninth in combi
ARE, Sweden This is what happens when Bode Miller fails to finish with a flourish.Leading after the downhill leg of the world championships combined event, Miller was on track for a medal, perhaps gold, until he inexplicably slowed down in the final gates of the slalom and finished sixth.”I was mystified. I thought he would get the job done today. He was in such a good position,” said U.S. men’s head coach Phil McNichol. “He did a good job at the top, he was carrying good speed. But then it was a little uncharacteristic. It looked like he was either having a difficult time at the bottom or he backed off.”It’s a great example of what just finishing gets you. Everyone can give him a hard time for not finishing, but at world championships you go for the win or you finish sixth.”The gold medal went to Daniel Albrecht of Switzerland, who was seventh after the downhill leg but had a near-perfect slalom run for a combined time of 2 minutes, 28.99 seconds. Defending champion Benjamin Raich of Austria was second, 0.08 seconds behind. Another Swiss skier, Marc Berthod, took bronze, 0.24 back.Overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal was fifth, and Miller finished 0.98 back.Olympic combined champion Ted Ligety had a turbulent race. He had a disappointing downhill run, then almost ran into two men with shovels in the slalom and was awarded a rerun – which he failed to finish. Another American, Steven Nyman, finished ninth, 1.19 behind.After the downhill leg, Miller had more than a second lead on Albrecht. But Miller lost all his advantage, and much more, in the slalom.”He definitely didn’t ski as well as he could have at the bottom, and it cost him a medal today,” McNichol said. “But I haven’t spoken to him about it. I don’t know what happened.”Miller dodged reporters for the fourth day in a row.”He vacated the premises pretty quickly,” McNichol said.Though formerly a threat in slalom, Miller has become famous for failing to finish his runs. He has completed one slalom race in the last 13 months, and has failed to finish all three combined events on the World Cup circuit this season.At least he finished here. At the last world championships in Bormio, Italy, two years ago, Miller lost a ski 15 seconds into the downhill leg of the combined, then performed a rollicking one-legged caper most of the way down the slope on one ski.Ligety was 33rd after the downhill, with 2.82 to make up in the evening’s single slalom leg.He made a mistake on the upper section of the slalom course and then course workers got in his way. Ligety lifted one ski up to avoid colliding with the closest course worker, who was desperately trying to get out of the way. The other man, a little lower down, seemed oblivious to Ligety’s approach but the 22-year-old American skidded to a halt in time.After shaking hands with the closest course worker, who came over to apologize, Ligety made his way back up for another run and skied off course.”The problem was that they were unaware that the intervals became shorter before the 30th skier came down,” said race chief Jan-Erik Hedstrom. “They were just before a roll and could not see him coming, and then when it got tight, the one that got in the way was not that experienced and he didn’t know to go away from the turn. But if you’re just a volunteer, you can’t have that experience.”McNichol said it was fortunate Ligety was not having the greatest run to begin with.”He was interfered with, but we’re lucky he wasn’t on his way to a medal performance,” McNichol said. “He had a huge job ahead of him, but he probably could have chiseled his way up.”
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