Winter Olympics

Asa Miller targets Olympic redemption in slalom event

Rappler.com
Asa Miller targets Olympic redemption in slalom event

LAST SHOT. Asa Miller (left) prepares for his last day of ski training with his American coach Will Gregorak (right) and father Kelly at the National Alpine Skiing Centre.

PHILIPPINE OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

After an early exit in his first event, lone Philippine bet Asa Miller aims for a more competitive finish in men’s slalom

YANQING, China – Asa Miller gets a shot at redemption on Wednesday, February 16, in the unpredictable men’s slalom event of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

After taking a day’s off on Monday to shake off frustration from his mishap in the giant slalom on Sunday, Miller took to the course on Tuesday not only to get his legs and arms get the feel of the race again, but to reset his focus.

“Trust your feet and trust yourself as the skier you are,” American coach Will Gregorak told his 21-year-old and two-time Olympian ward in between training runs at the National Alpine Skiing Centre. “It’s similar to what I told you before – the best you can possibly ski on race day is to ski like yourself.”

Miller will be up against world-class opponents seeking Olympic glory, including the man they call “The Rocket,” Dave Ryding of Great Britain.

Most eyes are on Ryding, whose tough task is to end his country’s lengthy wait for a first Olympic medal in alpine skiing. Alain Baxter won Britain’s first Olympic medal in alpine skiing but was stripped of his slalom bronze at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games for using a decongestant that contained a banned stimulant.

Ryding, now 35, is in his fourth Olympics.

Gregorak made sure to help Miller put his mind on the course.

“You’re not going to become another person and you are already an excellent skier,” the 31-year-old coach told the Filipino-American athlete. “All you have to do is find the feeling that you already know.”

Gregorak added: “When you get into the gate, it’s just you and the course. Go and have some fun by making your best turn.”

Just how unpredictable alpine skiing was this season? There were six World Cup slaloms with six different winners with only four skiers making the podium more than once and no one doing it more than twice.

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Miller was one of 33 skiers – out of 84 starters – who registered a DNF (did not finish) in the giant slalom on Sunday when snow fell incessantly for the first time in the Games during the weekend and rendered visibility poor at the Ice River course. 

Besides Ryding, the other favorites include World Cup veteran Lucas Braathen of Norway, 2017 world champion Manuel Ferrer of Austria, 2018 world junior champion Noel Clement of France, and  Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics team event gold medalist Daniel Yule of Great Britain.

Miller, whose Olympic campaign is fully supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, concentrated on his training and only smiled and waved his hand when sought for an interview.

Gregorak, meanwhile, said that the slalom hill is a “little bit an easier place” than the giant slalom so he is expecting more racers to finish.

“This is exactly a mellow slalom, not a particularly difficult hill so there should be plenty of skiers who will go pretty intensely,” said Gregorak, who owns 23 World Cup stints while playing for the US team from 2008 to 2014. 

“GS is the purest form of ski racing and technically the most difficult,” he said. “Slalom comes at you the fastest even though you don’t move as fast as other events, but not technically difficult like GS.”

The slalom’s first run is set at 10 am and the second run at 1:45 pm. – Rappler.com