Bode Miller Eighth in World Championship Downhill

Posted By: The Ski Channel on February 7, 2009 12:45 pm

The Americans didn’t do it, but a Canadian did, as 24-year-old John Kucera flew down the steep, technical Bellvarde downhill run Saturday, at the World Championships in Val d’Isere, France, nabbing his first World Championship title. Kucera sliced just .04 seconds ahead of Switzerland’s Didier Cuche, the recent winner of the Super G World Championship title. Cuche’s teammate Carlo Janka took the bronze, just .17 seconds behind, and American ski hero, Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) topped the U.S. squad’s finishes with an eighth place.

Kucera started second, which turned out to be a major bonus as later on in the race, the weather turned extremely foggy. For Miller, the fog was out of a horror movie, yet even though the visibility was near non-existent, Miller chose not to request a re-run. “I wouldn’t want to run again," Miller said. "It’s just too demanding."

Race officials held the competition after Miller skied, waiting for the fog to clear before defending downhill world champ and general rock star, Aksel Lund Svindal took his turn. Miller’s American compatriot and overall good guy, Marco “Sully” Sullivan (Squaw Valley, CA) shook his head as to why the officials didn’t hold the course for Miller. "It’s hard to say what their thinking was, but it’s a bummer," Sullivan said.

Sully himself failed to ski up to his par (he’s a World Cup downhill winner, himself), and suggested the fog had something to do with his performance.
"When I came into the fog it kind of surprised me and that’s when I made my first mistake and from that point on I was kind of playing catch up,” Sullivan said. “I was hammering trying to make up time and it just got worse and worse and by the bottom, I was pretty much spent from all the recoveries."

Fellow Americans Erik Fisher (Middleton, ID) and Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY) also had trouble with the fog and difficult course, and failed to finish the grueling downhill race. "The bottom two thirds of the course is tough. There’s no flow to it. You have to come into each turn like it’s its own section and just get ready for it,” Fisher said.

The World Championships continue Sunday with the women’s downhill, where Lindsey Vonn will charge for another title.

Val d’Isere, France – Feb. 7, 2009
Men’s Downhill

1. John Kucera, Canada, 2:07.01
2. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 2:07.05
3. Carlo Janka, Switzerland, 2:07.18
4. Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein, 2:07.53
5. Adrien Theaux, France, 2:07.95
8. Bode Miller, Franconia, NH, 2:08.38
25. Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, CA, 2:12.16
DNF – Andrew Weibrecht (Lake Placid, NY), Erik Fisher (Middleton, ID)
# # #

photo: Doug Haney/USSA