U.S. Bode Miller speeds past a gate on his way to win a men's ski World Cup giant slalom at Val D' Isere, France, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2004.
AP Photo/Marco Trovati
VAL D'ISERE, France -- Bode Miller put his go-for-broke style temporarily in check Sunday and won a World Cup giant slalom for the second time this season.
Miller's daring and brashness on the slope has become his signature, but the overall World Cup leader understood a bit of restraint was called for this time.
''The first run I definitely held back,'' he said. ''I didn't push 100 percent. Second run, I let go but made some bad turns.''
Miller had a combined time of 2 minutes, 20.66 seconds. Lasse Kjus of Norway finished second in 2:20.95, climbing from fifth place. Hermann Maier of Austria was third in 2:20.99. Daron Rahlves, Miller's U.S. teammate, was 15th.
Italian rookie Mirko Deflorian turned in the day's most surprising performance. He had the fastest second leg to finish fifth, 0.86 seconds off the pace.
''It's such a tough course,'' said Miller, who won his weight in local wine -- about 90 bottles -- in addition to more than $30,000 in prize money. ''There are lots of blind turns, there's a lot of speed for a GS and it's a long course, distancewise. You can't afford to make a tactical mistake.''
Miller leads the overall standings with 630 points, a whopping 291 ahead of second-place Maier. Miller tops the giant slalom standings with 200, followed by Kjus at 180 and Maier at 156.
Miller won the season-opening giant slalom but failed to complete the one in Beaver Creek, Colo. So he made a cautious first run Sunday, simply intent on finishing. That left him in fourth place, 0.30 seconds behind Maier.
The skier from Franconia, N.H., then summoned his gung-ho tactics and rallied in the next leg to the delight of fans crowding the finish area.
''I won the first race this year in Soelden by more than a second and crashed in the second in Beaver Creek,'' Miller said. ''So it makes sense that I finish here. So I had to decide here how much to hold back and how much to let go.''
Kjus won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek last month for his first victory in the discipline since winning in Kranjska Gora in 1996.
''It always takes me longer than most people to recover from jet lag,'' he said. ''First run, I felt more like sleeping than skiing. But I woke up.''
Maier led after the opening run and look poised to win his first giant slalom in almost four years.
''I'm very pleased by my achievement this year in GS,'' said Maier, 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 won 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.
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