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Rahlves is roused; Miller at standstill

SESTRIERE, Italy -- It was an up-and-down day for skiers with New England connections yesterday at the World Cup finals. Daron Rahlves added to his finest season by winning the downhill, while Bode Miller failed to score any points in his bid for the overall title.

The Austrian team had a big day, with Stephan Eberharter and Renate Goetschl moving into second place in the overall men's and women's standings.

Rahlves, a Californian who spent four years skiing at the Green Mountain Valley School in Vermont, charged down the 2.04-mile course in 1 minute 51.88 seconds, securing second place in the final downhill standings. He beat Austrian Fritz Strobl by a 10th of a second, with Eberharter third in 1:52.01. Miller, who hails from Franconia, N.H., finished 22d in 1:54.12.

It was Rahlves's eighth career World Cup win, all in speed events, and fourth victory of the season.

"I'm super stoked. I'm really liking this hill," Rahlves said. "This is the way I want to end my season.

"My goal was to win the downhill title, but I had a good all-around season. It gives me a huge lift for next season."

He also won a downhill in Beaver Creek, Colo., in December and a super giant slalom in Kitzbuehel, Austria, in January, before adding a super giant slalom victory Sunday in Kvitfjell, Norway.

Eberharter was the only contender for the overall title to score points, moving into second place. Hermann Maier leads with 1,165 points, Eberharter has 1,143, and Miller is next with 1,098.

"It's tough when you have to be in the top 15 and everyone is charging," said Miller, bidding for his first overall title. "You have to have a clean run. You have to be charging and attacking and not making mistakes. "It's disappointing not to score points, but I was taking some risks today. To make errors when you're taking risks is acceptable, I suppose."

Miller hopes to gain ground in the giant slalom and slalom, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. "I'm capable of winning the slalom and GS," he said. "Who knows what is going to happen? I know Hermann and Eberharter are going to try to win the Super G and GS."

Miller's chances of gaining ground in the Super G, however, might not be much better than in the downhill. His best result in the discipline was 17th.

"I hope [my chances] are better now because I didn't score any points here," he said. "I can ski Super G well, I just haven't been scoring well this year, so it's going to be a question mark tomorrow."

Eberharter, who clinched the downhill title last week, finished with a record 831 points in the event.

"All four racers are in a good spot to win the overall," Eberharter said. "The answer is written in the sky, and on Sunday we will all know who has won."

Goetschl won the women's downhill title for her first World Cup trophy since shredding her left knee and breaking her leg in a crash in the spring of 2002.

"It didn't start so well. I almost fell at the second gate and I thought, `It's over,' " she said. "Then I knew I had to risk everything."

Goetschl covered the 1.83-mile course in 1:45.01 and, with her sixth victory of the season, moved within 73 points of Sweden's Anja Paerson in the overall standings. Paerson did not compete in the downhill.

Goetschl has three more races to catch Paerson: Super G, slalom, and giant slalom. "I know how to be second," Goetschl said. "Last year, I lost the title by so little, so it was a big goal of mine to win it this time."

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