Miller DQ'd, then skips out on ceremony for draw

Updated: January 14, 2006, 10:16 AM ET
Associated Press

WENGEN, Switzerland -- Bode Miller hit the trifecta: an apology, a disqualification, an absence.

Bode Miller
Agence Zoom/Getty ImagesBode Miller's run in Wengen started well but quickly went awry, ending in his disqualification and the need for more damage control.

One day after he was humbled for comments about drinking and racing, Miller was disqualified near the end of a World Cup race Friday. The champion skier failed to get the result reversed and later skipped a ceremony in town for the downhill draw for Saturday's race.

"It just never stops with him," World Cup race director Guenther Hujara said.

Miller, the defending overall champion, was disqualified just yards from the finish of a slalom, allowing Austria's Benjamin Raich to win a super-combi and pad his lead in the overall standings.

The super-combi, a new version of the traditional combined, adds the times from a shortened downhill in the morning to a slalom leg a few hours later.

Norway's Kjetil Andre Aamodt was second and Italy's Peter Fill was third for his first top-three finish. The top American was Steven Nyman, 19th.

Miller was second fastest in the morning's downhill and appeared to have won after the slalom, leading Raich by 1.11 seconds. But the New Hampshire skier was disqualified for straddling a gate near the end.

Miller was unable to get his disqualification changed after speaking with Hujara -- and his problems didn't stop there.

He skipped the mandatory downhill bib draw ceremony in the town square, letting down thousands of fans hoping to catch a glimpse of him. It was unclear why he was absent; no other skier missed the draw.

Miller, who often complains of his sponsor and media duties, was supposed to start 27th but will now be the 30th skier out.

Miller, who had delivered his best slalom performance in eight months, said that while the front part of his right ski did hit the flattened gate, his foot never crossed over the pole.

"My ski definitely hit the gate but it [the gate] went down the middle of the ski and my foot was on the right side of it," Miller said, explaining why he completed his run even though International Ski Federation rules state skiers must abandon a race if they miss a gate to preserve the course. "The tip of my ski went over it but I didn't hook it completely."

Article 661.4.1 of the ski rules states that a gate has been passed correctly when both the competitor's ski tips and both feet have passed across the gate line. The gate line in slalom is the imaginary shortest line between the turning pole and the outside pole. In other words, both skis must be in between the two poles.

"Bode raises the question, but there is not a question," Hujara said. "There was not a big discussion or a fight. It's very clear that the ski tip has to cross the gate line, and it's more than obvious that he was straddling the gate."

Miller's sole victory this season came in December in a giant slalom at Beaver Creek, Colo.

"I've put a bit of energy in my slalom. I've felt so bad in slalom lately," Miller said. "I felt better today. I'll be back."

On Thursday, he apologized for comments during a CBS "60 Minutes" profile, regretting the "confusion and pain" he caused with his remarks about skiing and drinking.

Raich leads the World Cup overall standings with 706 points. Austria's Michael Walchhofer climbed into second with 520. Miller and teammate Daron Rahlves remained tied but dropped into third with 489.

Raich, 13th after the morning's downhill, delivered a stunning slalom leg to win with a combined time of 2 minutes, 38.46 seconds. Aamodt finished in 2:38.65 and Fill at 2:38.78.

Raich and Austrian men's coach Toni Giger watched Miller's run replayed in slow motion on the jumbo screen in the finish area. They said it seemed clear to them he straddled the gate.

"I'm lucky I don't have to make that decision," Raich said.

In the other super-combi race this season in Val d'Isere, France, Walchhofer was awarded the victory last month after winner Didier Defago of Switzerland was disqualified for an equipment violation.

Italy's Giorgio Rocca, who has swept all four slaloms this season, straddled in the slalom run Friday.

"I'm not mad," he said. "This was a good training for Sunday's slalom."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press