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Ski notebook

Miller time in Munich

Olympic champion shines before a prime-time crowd

HANNAH KEARNEY Back to her roots HANNAH KEARNEY
Back to her roots
By Tony Chamberlain and T.D. Thornton
Globe Correspondents / January 6, 2011

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Just when it seems Franconia, N.H.’s Bode Miller is fading from the scene — having hit the Olympic heights last winter in Vancouver — the 33-year-old pops up again. This time Miller grabbed a bronze-medal finish in one of the most exciting races on the World Cup tour — a night dual slalom before 25,000 fans in an arena in Munich last Sunday. It was Miller’s first podium of the season.

Miller, a five-time Olympic medalist, came from behind in his final run to edge hometown favorite Felix Neureuther for third, earning a spot on the podium, $21,000, and 60 points in the World Cup standings.

The winner was Croatian champion Ivica Kostelic, who skied nearly flawless runs all night, with second place going to Julien Lizeroux of France, who knocked US star Ted Ligety out of a podium finish.

The races are set on a dual slalom course before a crowd that creates one of the loudest cheering sections ski racers hear. After the race, Miller told reporters he enjoyed the noise.

“With 25,000 so close I hear all of them. They hated the one who beat Felix. It was cool to hear them cheer for him.’’

After a slow start in which he fell behind Austrian Michael Walchhofer, Miller said he found his rhythm and quick starts in time to knock Walchhofer off the ladder and finally, in the semifinals, to beat another Austrian ace, Benjamin Raich.

Smashing time At Waterville Valley, the year ended with a visit, and clinic, put on by Olympic gold medalist Hannah Kearney, who was bringing her message home. A lifelong member of Waterville Valley’s Black and Blue Trail Smashers Club, Kearney excelled as a moguls skier, then made her World Cup debut in 2003. Since then she has landed on the podium in 39 World Cup finishes before taking the gold in Vancouver last winter. Kearney spent the morning skiing with local girls, giving them tips on moguls skiing, then signed autographs and posed for pictures.

Getting a lift It’s been 26 years since Mittersill, the adjunct side country ski area to Cannon, was open to lift-served skiing. But starting last week, the popular Franconia Notch area was back with the Mittersill Double Chair for lift service for the first time since 1984. The timing worked well, ski area officials said, since the completion and certification of the lift took place on Dec. 30 just as the area got hit with four feet of snow . . . Powder Ridge, the Middlefield, Conn., ski area that has been out of business since 2006, got a new lease on life last month when the State Bond Commission voted to approve $500,000 for improvements. Powder Ridge operated for 47 years in the central part of the state before the town bought the property at foreclosure auction in 2008. According to the Middlefield Press, town officials recently voted to refinance short-term debt on the ski area, and the next step is to try to work out a lease arrangement with ski development company Alpine Associates, whose proposal is under consideration . . . The North American Telemark Organization will hold a series of two-day, on-snow Telemark workshops throughout New England this month. The first day is a skills clinic followed by a guided backcountry tour on the second day. Upcoming programs are at Wildcat Mountain/Tuckerman Ravine on Jan. 15-16, Mad River Glen/Camel’s Hump on Jan. 22-23 (women only), and Bromley Ski Area on Jan. 29-30. All skill levels are encouraged, pre-registration is required, cost is $190, and details are at telemarknato.com.

Place to be The New England Sled Dog Club has its only sanctioned Massachusetts race meet this year Jan. 15-16 at Appleton Farms in Ipswich, and up to 80 mushing teams are expected. The course has been laid out to accommodate three-wheeled “rig’’ races in the event there is not enough snow to support sledding. Admission is free, but on-site parking is $20. See myopiasleddograces.com for details . . . Mount Snow is giving away a wedding package valued at $25,000, but you have to be prepared to pop the question right away: Deadline for entries is Monday, and the wedding must take place next month on Valentine’s Day. Submit a video, write an essay, or fill out an online form at the resort’s website that makes a pitch for why you and your sweetie should win the contest . . . Donating at the Shawnee Peak blood drive this Sunday gets you a voucher for a free midweek lift ticket valid through the end of the season . . . College students get $19 lift tickets at Bolton Valley weekdays through Jan. 14 . . . If you pre-buy an Okemo lift ticket on weekdays through Jan. 14, you get a $20 lunch voucher redeemable at any eatery on the mountain . . . Sign up for any Monday-Thursday lesson at Catamount (only mountain in New England where you can ski in Massachusetts and New York on a single trail), and your lift ticket for the day is free.

Happy trails This Saturday’s national Winter Trails Day introduces cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to first-timers at various touring centers. Weston Ski Track offers free snowshoeing passes, demos, and tours plus free preregistered cross-country lessons to those who buy a trail pass. Find other New England locales like Vermont’s Woodstock Nordic Center and Maine’s Sunday River Outdoor Center at www.wintertrails.org . . . Celebrate National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month at Wachusett with a three-day Learn to Turn package for $199 for anyone 6 and up that includes lessons, rentals, and beginner lift ticket . . . Nashoba Valley combines terrain park safety and competitions for skiers and riders 12 and under during a series beginning Monday called The Gathering. Held in the beginner terrain park from 6-7 p.m., the park staff introduces the kids to one feature per session . . . Tomorrow is $9 tickets at Cranmore during Ticket Roll Back Day . . . Sunday is Youth Pay Their Age Day (ages 6 to 18) at Mount Snow . . . The Killington Access Road should be alive with college students receiving discounts to night spots and shops through Jan. 14 as part of Killington’s Snowfest . . . College students pay $19 midweek through Jan. 14 at Bolton Valley with ID . . . Loon is introducing two-day Women’s Performance Camps for blue square to double black diamond skiers Jan. 29-30 and Feb. 26-27. Cost is $200 and includes lift tickets . . . Whaleback Mountain in Enfield, N.H., hosts the first Captain Ahab’s 24/12, a ski and ride marathon, Jan. 29-30. There is a 24-hour competition for skiers and snowboarders, and a 12-hour Up-Down challenge where free-heelers trek up and ski down the hill off I-89. Sign up by Jan. 16 at www.whaleback.com . . . The New England Triathlon series gets underway Sunday at Weston Ski Track with the Weston Winter Duathlon (4K trail run, 6K XC), followed by the Jan. 23 Gunstock Winter Triathlon (4K trail run, 3.5K mountain bike, 3K XC) and Weston’s Feb. 13 Massachusetts Winter Triathlon (5K trail run, 7.5K mountain bike, 6K XC).

Globe correspondent Marty Basch contributed to this report.