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Bode Miller nearly fastest in Bormio downhill training

Dec 27, 2013, 9:46 AM EDT

Bode Miller Getty Images

Bode Miller began laying the groundwork for what could be a spectacular weekend, finishing second in the opening downhill training run in snow-swept Bormio, Italy on Friday.

Miller is coming off his best performance in a downhill this season, having placed fifth in Val Gardena a week ago. He was just .15 seconds off landing on the podium on the Saslong classic.

In Bormio, he found himself .20 seconds behind Italy’s Christof Innerhofer, who logged the fastest time of the day on the Stelvio course on which he posted the first of his six career World Cup victories in December of 2008.

“It’s always good to be back in Bormio,” Innerhofer told FIS. “My first big successes, my first victory and my first podium on this slope so I have great memories from the Stelvio. I am having fun this week as I know I can do really well.”

Miller has been solid throughout his career on this slope, winning the downhill in 2007. He has also finished fourth twice and fifth twice, most recently in 2011 which is the last time he raced there.

Overall, it was a solid showing in training by the Americans as Steve Nyman finished ninth, Travis Ganong came in 17th and Marco Sullivan finished 19th. A second training run will be contested Saturday, with the race slated for Sunday beginning at 5:45 am ET.

Conditions have been a great concern as heavy snowfalls at the top of the mountain forced organizers to lower the original starting position. While snow was falling at elevation, rain was altering the surface at the bottom section of the course.

Travel to Bormio was also an issue for some athletes. Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who finished third in the training run behind Innerhofer and Miller and leads the World Cup overall standings, described his nightmarish trek to the event on his Facebook page.

“Another classic birthday celebration,” Svindal wrote. “I spent almost the whole day alone in my car fighting Italian traffic and a snow storm. The 26th is always travel day to Bormio ITA for the Christmas downhill race. Bormio is one of the hardest places in Europe to get too. There are no close airports and you have to cross at least one mountain pass to get here.

“My first attempt was Passo del Tonale that they decided to close down just as I got there. That meant going back the way I came, about 2 hours plus the 4 hour detour around the mountains. Like I said, another classic 26th of December and birthday celebration! But luckily I have plenty of other days that are sweet(!), so I’ll take it.”

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