Bode Miller charges out of the start house in the opening training run for Saturday's Laubernorn downhill in Wengen. It's Miller's first race of the season. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom)
WENGEN, Switzerland (Jan. 15, 2015) - Wengen’s fabled Lauberhorn downhill is in a class by itself: It's over two and a half minutes of leg-burning pain down a 2.78-mile course with speeds pushing 100 mph. Two-time downhill champion Bode Miller was back, testing his body and gauging the viability of getting into the start house for the 85th running of Lauberhorn on Saturday. After the first two runs of the season, Miller remains in the hunt.
“This is a tough race to come into for your first race of the season,” he said after Tuesday’s first training run. “Physically, this is probably the most demanding course of the year. Being in good physical shape is one part of it, but being in efficient skiing shape is also part of it.”
Miller was the fastest American of the Tuesday, but was still three seconds back from Austria’s Matthias Mayer, finishing 28th. Marco Sullivan was 29th, Travis Ganong 30th, and Jared Goldberg 31st. Others included Ted Ligety in 38th, Tim Jitloff 58th, Will Brandenburg 65th and Wiley Maple 69th. Steven Nyman did not finish.
“I was taking it pretty easy today to feel my back out,” Miller said. “Overall I’m really happy with where it’s at and my back felt OK. The movements felt OK. The fitness was a problem a little bit, but that’s to be expected at this point. Even in my best shape I suffered pretty bad on this hill trying to be fast.”
Bode Miller stands in the start in Wengen on Thursday. (Getty Images-AFP/Olivier Morin)
No stranger to the Lauberhorn, Miller won the classic downhill in 2007 and 2008. He was fifth last year and in 2012.
There were a few changes in the course this year, most notably in the Langentrejen - a series of three big super G turns. “They straightened out the beginning of it, which I like,” said Miller. “And they made the last two turns big turns. The entry speed now into the Hanneggschuss is super low.”
Miller trained again Thursday, taking 44th in the run, and is still not sure about racing on Saturday. "It’s going to be a tough decision about the race. I’d love to race and see how I do. But I know this hill pretty well, and if you’re not physically ready for it, it can damage you," said Miller. "It’s a risk to be out here, just skiing training runs. I’ll talk to the coaches today and take a look and make a decision."
Racing begins Friday with super combined live on Universal Sports Network, followed by a slalom on Saturday and Sunday's Lauberhorn downhill.
Friday Jan. 15 - 7:30-9:00 a.m. EST - Super Combined LIVE
Saturday, Jan. 16 - 2:00-4:00 p.m. EST - Lauberhorn Downhill
Sunday, Jan. 17 - 6:30-8:00 a.m. EST - Slalom LIVE