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Miller proves to be large and in charge

Bode Miller is back on the podium after claiming his 23d World Cup victory, winning a super-G in Val Gardena, Italy. Bode Miller is back on the podium after claiming his 23d World Cup victory, winning a super-G in Val Gardena, Italy. (GETTY IMAGES)

VAL GARDENA, Italy -- Bode Miller won a super-G by a large margin yesterday, racing to his 23d World Cup victory and his second in two weeks.

The American covered the 1.5-mile Saslong course in 1 minute 32.35 seconds. Christoph Gruber of Austria was second, a distant 0.64 seconds behind, and Canada's John Kucera was third, 0.73 back.

"I tried to ski aggressively and I definitely didn't make any mistakes," said Miller, who captured his fourth World Cup win in super-G, a discipline in which he is also world champion.

"It's the first time this season that I was able to ski well from start to finish," Miller said. "I couldn't have asked for more."

Miller, who won a downhill in Beaver Creek, Colo., Dec. 1, is the first skier on the men's circuit with two victories this season. He could have won more but failed to finish after leading the opening legs of a super-combi and giant slalom in Beaver Creek.

"It has been a frustrating start to the season," Miller said. "The mistakes that I've made have been really costly."

Miller never had finished better than fourth here, but thin snow cover made the course more technical and better suited to his style.

"The way it is now is the toughest I've ever seen it," Miller said. "I knew if I didn't make any mistakes today I had a better chance to win here than ever before. When I got to the finish line, I wasn't surprised I was in the lead."

Gruber wasn't surprised either.

"We all know that if Bode skis a perfect run he can be unbeatable," the Austrian said. "So it was OK for me to be 64-hundredths back."

Kucera won the season-opening super-G in Lake Louise, Alberta, and retained the discipline leader's red bib.

"I hope to keep it for more races," Kucera said. "Wearing the red bib, you got to go fast."

Didier Cuche of Switzerland was fourth, 0.78 behind, and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway finished fifth and retained the overall World Cup lead.

Austria's Hermann Maier was the last top skier who had a chance to beat Miller. The Austrian was 0.06 seconds off the American's pace at the first checkpoint but missed a gate near the end of his run and was disqualified.

The powerhouse Austrian team has not won a race since Benjamin Raich took the season-opening slalom in Levi, Finland, more than a month ago.

Hans Grugger, the Austrian who won the super-G here last year, also skied off course. And Michael Walchhofer made a mistake midway through his run after a fast split.

Sweden's Patrik Jaerbyn and Switzerland's Ambrosi Hoffmann fell but both appeared to be fine.

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