Bode Miller had company all around him yesterday, and not just on the podium at Beaver Creek, Colo.
Miller narrowly avoided a high-speed collision with a course worker to capture his first World Cup downhill victory in two years, ignoring the scare along with increasingly heavy snowfall to charge down the Birds of Prey course in 1 minute 46.15 seconds.
Swiss downhill veteran Didier Cuche was runner-up, 0.15 seconds behind, and American Steve Nyman, was third, 0.33 back.
Americans have won the Birds of Prey downhill -- considered one of the toughest on the World Cup circuit -- the last three years.
Four Americans finished in the top 10 yesterday as Scott Macartney took eighth and Marco Sullivan 10th.
"It's really nice to see Bode on the top of the steps again," US head coach Phil McNichol said. " Miller's last World Cup victory was at the finals in Are, Sweden, in March, when he won a super-G.
Beaver Creek is the only US stop on the World Cup circuit, so "obviously, everybody's pushing the limits here," Miller said. "You're more likely to take an extra risk when you're in front of your home fans, your home crowd."
Miller, known for his steady nerves, had a close call when a man lost his footing on the icy surface and streaked across his path just two gates below the brazen skier. Miller neither flinched nor slowed. He even picked up speed.
"Once I realized I wasn't going to hit him, he was the last thing on my mind," Miller said.
Women -- Germany's Maria Riesch, coming back from two knee operations, edged Lindsey Kildow at Lake Louise, Alberta, to win the opening downhill of the season.
Riesch won for the fourth time in her career, finishing in 1:51.31. Kildow, of Vail, Colo., was the runner-up in 1:51.74, with Nadia Fanchini of Italy third. Stacey Cook of Truckee, Calif., was fourth for her first top-five finish.