Bode tweaks equipment before heading to worlds |

Bode tweaks equipment before heading to worlds

Bode Miller, of the United States, salutes after taking sixth place in an alpine ski, men's World Cup slalom race, in Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009. (AP Photo/Enrico Schiavi)

VAL D’ISERE, France ” Bode Miller is obsessed with equipment. So it’s no surprise he was stopping in at his ski company’s factory Monday before heading to the world championships.

“He wants to get some hands-on time with the engineers,” Forest Carey, the coach of Miller’s personal team, told The Associated Press by telephone from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Miller trained for the giant slalom Monday on the Garmisch course that was used for World Cup races over the weekend. He had an appointment at Head’s factory in Austria in the afternoon, then planned to drive to Val d’Isere with Carey.

Miller’s friend and cook, Jake Serino, assistant coach Craig Daniels, and the rest of his crew were driving the team’s three motor homes to Val d’Isere.

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The men’s competition opens Wednesday with the super-G.

Miller has not won a major championship medal since sweeping the two speed races ” downhill and super-G ” at the 2005 worlds in Bormio, Italy. The New Hampshire skier’s best finish at the last worlds in Are, Sweden, two years ago was sixth in super-combi. At the 2006 Turin Olympics he placed fifth in downhill.

The Face de Bellevarde slope in Val d’Isere is one of the steepest courses the men will race all season. That means course setters will have to place gates closer together than normal for the technical events.

Miller plans to adapt to the change by using shorter skis in the giant slalom.

“They have to set the gates every 22 to 24 meters, whereas usually it’s 28 meters,” Carey said, adding that Miller’s skis most likely will be slightly shorter. Miller tested the new skis in Garmisch.

“It’s not that different,” Carey said. “I think everyone’s going to have them.”

Miller finished 24th in the GS won by Switzerland’s Carlo Janka on the Bellevarde in early December, and didn’t finish the super-G portion of a super-combi. Last February, Miller won a super-combi on the Bellevarde by leading the downhill portion.

“I would say it’s a good downhill for him, but not better than any of the others,” Carey said.

While Miller can’t use shorter skis for the slalom, he has stated that one of his big goals in these championships is to win the technical race. The slalom is the only title missing from Miller’s collection of world championship golds ” he won the giant slalom and combined in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 2003.

After injuring his ankle in a crash in Beaver Creek, Colo., in early December, Miller used a new pair of larger ski boots in slalom to ease the pain, but his skiing suffered.

“He went back to the old boots in Schladming and he’s right back where he left off,” Carey said, referring to Miller’s eighth-place slalom finish in the Austrian resort.

Miller then finished sixth in the Garmisch slalom. He opened the season by placing second in slalom in Levi, Finland.

“His (slalom) speed is there,” Carey said.

Miller has yet to win this season, finishing runner-up three times.

He broke away from the U.S. team before last season to train and race on his own, and it’s unlikely he will take part in the team event in Val D’Isere.

“Without the team event he’ll get three days to rest, which he’ll need if his body is hurting,” Carey said.

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