Miller's improvement shows from get-go

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta -- Bode Miller of the United States won the first World Cup downhill race of the season on Saturday, finishing in 1 minute, 42.75 seconds to claim his first career World Cup downhill race.

Miller, who in the past has been a slalom and giant slalom specialist, is focusing on improvement in the downhill this season as part of his bid to become the first American man since Phil Mahre in 1983 to win the World Cup overall title.

Antoine Deneriaz of France was second in 1:43.72, while Michael Walchhofer of Austria was third in 1:43.92. Hermann Maier, the defending World Cup overall champion, finished sixth.

"It means all the pieces came together today," said Miller, who has competed in every race on the World Cup calendar the last two years. "There's a lot of pieces that have to come together to win a downhill. Even more pieces have to come together to be a second ahead."

The race was held on the Olympic downhill course, a string of man-made snow on an otherwise brown mountain, under sun and a bright blue sky.

Miller also won the opening giant slalom race of the season in Soelden, Austria, but his best downhill result before Saturday was a fifth in Bormio, Italy, in 2003.

"The prestige and the sexiness of downhill are undeniable," Miller said. "It's the fastest, has the biggest jumps, the most risks."

The first super-giant slalom of the season is scheduled for Sunday at Lake Louise.

1. Bode Miller, United States, 1 minute, 42.75 seconds.
2. Antoine Deneriaz, France, 1:43.72.
3. Michael Walchhofer, Austria, 1:43.92.
4. Hans Knauss, Austria, 1:43.98.
5. Daron Rahlves, United States, 1:44.06.
6. Hermann Maier, Austria, 1:44.09.
7. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 1:44.45.
8. Jan Hudec, Canada, 1:44.51.
9. Ambrosi Hoffmann, Switzerland, 1:44.58.
10. Lasse Kjus, Norway, 1:44.61.
11. Silvan Zurbriggen, Switzerland, 1:44.78.
12. Kurt Sulzenbacher, Italy, 1:44.84.
13. Andreas Schifferer, Austria, 1:44.91.
14. Bruno Kernen, Switzerland, 1:45.00.
15. Erik Guay, Canada, 1:45.05.
16. Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway, 1:45.07.
17. Benjamin Raich, Austria, 1:45.11.
18. Max Rauffer, Germany, 1:45.21.
19. Johann Grugger, Austria, 1:45.22.
20. Klaus Kroell, Austria, 1:45.25.
21. Norbert Holzknecht, Austria, 1:45.36.
22. Werner Franz, Austria, 1:45.40.
23. Bjarne Solbakken, Norway, 1:45.41.
24. Marco Buechel, Liechtenstein, 1:45.48.
25. Francois Bourque, Canada, 1:45.54.
World Cup Downhill Standings
1. Bode Miller, United States, 100 points.
2. Antoine Deneriaz, France, 80.
3. Michael Walchhofer, Austria, 60.
4. Hans Knauss, Austria, 50.
5. Daron Rahlves, United States, 45.
6. Hermann Maier, Austria, 40.
7. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 36.
8. Jan Hudec, Canada, 32.
9. Ambrosi Hoffmann, Switzerland, 29.
10. Lasse Kjus, Norway, 26.
Overall World Cup Standings
1. Bode Miller, United States, 200 points.
2. Hans Knauss, Austria, 95.
3. Antoine Deneriaz, France, 80.
(tie) Massimiliano Blardone, Italy, 80.
5. Michael Walchhofer, Austria, 75.
6. Didier Cuche, Switzerland, 65.
7. Kalle Palander, Finland, 60.
8. Hermann Maier, Austria, 56.
9. Joel Chenal, France, 50.
10. Andreas Schifferer, Austria, 49.