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

1/14/2006

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

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."