Skiing: Miller scores second giant slalom win in three races

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The Independent Online

Overall leader Bode Miller showed uncharacteristic maturity and restraint yesterday to win the men's World Cup giant slalom at Val D'Isere.

Miller, who won the season-opening event in Soelden but failed to complete the next in Beaver Creek, covered the fast and shadowy O.K. course at the classic French resort twice in a combined time of two minutes, 20.66 seconds.

The 27-year-old American, known for his go-for-broke style, controlled his zeal sufficiently to make sure he finished the opening run. He clocked the fourth-best time, leaving himself 0.30 to make up on the second leg.

To the delight of the French fans crowding the finish area, Miller displayed his traditional take-no-prisoners attitude on the second leg to take victory.

"The first run I definitely held back. I didn't push 100 percent. Second run I let go but made some bad turns," Miller said.

Austrian ski star Hermann Maier, who led after the opening run and look poised to win his first giant slalom in almost four years, dropped to third place after the second leg with 2:20.99.

"I'm very pleased by my achievement this year in giant slalom," said Maier, who was the runner-up in Beaver Creek. "For sure it's disappointing because I was leading after the first run. But I knew in the second run I hadn't skied well enough to win."

Maier was a dominant force in the discipline between 1999 and 2001 - winning the World Cup giant slalom title three times as well as the Olympic gold medal in 1998 - before a motorcycle crash in August 2001 nearly cost him a leg.

The day's surprise performance was by 21-year-old Italian rookie Mirko Deflorian. Starting 58th in the opening run, Deflorian overcame the increasingly rutted snow to post the 24th best time. He then delivered the fastest second leg to finish a stunning fifth, just 0.86 seconds off the pace.