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Golden Miller clinches title glory

Miller will be confident of winning the giant slalom world title after his super-G victory

BORMIO, Italy -- American Bode Miller has won the super-G world title, eclipsing favorite Hermann Maier and finishing ahead of a trio of Austrians to secure gold.

Miller, joint silver medallist in super-G at St Moritz two years ago, stormed down an icy Stelvio slope in one minute 27.55 seconds with Austria's Michael Walchhofer 0.14 seconds behind.

Benjamin Raich picked up the bronze medal but Maier could manage only fourth place -- the first time he has failed to take a podium place in a world championship super-G.

In St Moritz, Miller took gold in giant slalom and combined and was joint silver medallist along with Maier in super-G.

The American all-rounder will now fancy his chances of proving himself to be the undisputed top man in the world.

"It means a lot to me," said Miller. "I've felt for a long time that I could do it in the speed events and this is awesome."

The 27-year-old Miller has struggled for form of late after making a blistering start to the World Cup tour by winning six of the opening 10 races.

But he recovered from an early error when he touched the snow with his backside to deliver an aggressive but controlled run on a challenging, at times bumpy, course on the first day of the two-week world championships.

"Everything was a big fight from the beginning, especially in the upper part where I touched the snow and had to really fight hard," said Miller.

"I made one mistake but maybe I needed that to get me to push and push. I was definitely lucky, normally you wouldn't get a medal with such a mistake," he added.

The result puts the pressure on Maier to deliver in the downhill next Saturday and will raise questions about whether he is beginning to fall from his pedestal at the top of the sport.

The former double Olympic and world champion, who came back from an horrific motorcycle crash in 2001, has managed only one win in super-G this season.

In contrast, Walchhofer's silver medal is a sign that he is in fine shape to defend his downhill world championship title.

"It's fantastic, a great start for me," he said, "My goal here is to defend my downhill title and to get a medal already is great. But this also shows that Bode is going to be one of the toughest rivals in downhill."

Raich, who is developing into a genuine all-rounder after starting out in slalom, was particularly pleased to have pipped Maier to a bronze medal.

"For a former slalom skier to win a medal in super-G is fantastic. I delivered a very good performance and it is amazing that I was able to finish ahead of Maier."

There were good performances from Liechtenstein's Marco Buechel, who finished fifth, and Germany's Florian Eckert, a downhiller who has never managed even a top-10 finish in super-G on the World Cup circuit, who was sixth.

But American Daron Rahlves, considered a contender, finished a disappointing 10th, 1.70 seconds behind his compatriot Miller.

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