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Bode Blanked Again At Major Championship

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AP
Bode Miller and the U.S. men are left with a blank look at the world championships. After straining his knee during the first run of Saturday's slalom, Miller will leave this frigid resort without a medal. He also failed to crack the top three at last year's Turin Olympics.

"It's an alarming trend for a guy that should be having big results," U.S. men's head coach Phil McNichol told The Associated Press. "He came up short again at a big championship. But I don't think Torino and this event are a good comparison.

"Bode came in here much more prepared than at the Olympics. He worked hard and we trained hard."

Austria's Mario Matt won the slalom in a combined time of 1 minute, 57.33 seconds. Italy's Manfred Moelgg took the silver, while Jean-Baptiste Grange of France won the bronze.

While Lindsey Kildow collected a pair of silver medals in the speed events and Julia Mancuso another in the combined _ the U.S. men have been shut out.

The last time the U.S. men failed to bring home a medal from the worlds was 1999. They'll have one last shot in Sunday's team event, which Miller will skip because of fatigue and injury.

Miller's best result at the worlds was a sixth-place finish in the combined. He was seventh in the downhill, 15th in the giant slalom and 24th in the super-G.

It's a far cry from the last worlds in Bormio, Italy, in 2005, when Miller stunned the powerful Austrian Wunderteam by taking gold in both speed events _ downhill and super-G. Later that season, Miller became the first American to take the coveted World Cup overall since Phil Mahre and Tamara McKinney in 1983.

Despite his latest washout, Miller remains the only skier with four World Cup wins this season, two in downhill and two in super-G. Austria's Benjamin Raich, the reigning overall champion, has three victories so far. No other skier has more than two.

"Bode's been really pumped, really focused this season. He won the Lauberhorn in January, his first big downhill win in Europe," McNichol said. "His attention span has gone further into the season."

It's tough to pinpoint why he can't pull it together at major championships.

"I'm not going to tell you it's easy to get into the head of Bode Miller," McNichol said.

Only one-third of the 74-man field completed both legs. Miller lasted longer than many of the favorites on the aggressive Olympia course before tweaking his knee and skiing off course, ending his lofty bid to become the first male skier with world titles in all five events.

Miller has finished just one slalom in the past 13 months.

But it is logical that at his age, Miller tends to do better in the speed events, where more mature muscle mass and a better knowledge of the circuit's courses are crucial to success. He led the downhill portion of the combined here but lost his advantage in the slalom leg.

Though Miller isn't exactly over the hill at 29, he's on the riper end of the spectrum when it comes to ski racing. It is generally the younger skiers _ still lithe and agile _ who excel in the technical events.

"It definitely gets your attention if the kind of athlete that Bode is comes up dry for two championships in a row," McNichol said. "I wouldn't say he's washed up, definitely not. You can't say yet if his time is fading.

"It's just been two letdown seasons in a row. He's still performed pretty well on the World Cup, although not at the same level as 2005. You have to look at the equipment changes, the weather, and the other challenges we've had. We're not looking for excuses, we're looking for answers."

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AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf contributed to this report.