Tough start for Miller in giant slalom

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 13 2022 11:57 AM | Updated as of Feb 13 2022 03:39 PM

Asa Miller of the Philippines reacts after his run. Wolfgang Rattay, Reuters
Asa Miller of the Philippines reacts after his run. Wolfgang Rattay, Reuters

(2nd UPDATE) Asa Miller endured a tough start to his campaign in the Beijing Winter Olympics, failing to finish his first run in the giant slalom on Sunday morning at the Ice River in the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre.

Amid difficult conditions, Miller was out just under 20 seconds after he started, failing to navigate the first gate in the course. He registered a DNF (did not finish) in his first run, joining several other skiers who also struggled in the event.

It was a disappointing result for the 21-year-old Miller, who is making his second appearance in the Winter Games after also competing for the Philippines in Pyeongchang 2018. 

Miller had also competed in the giant slalom in 2018, finishing 70th out of 110 participants in his Games debut. This time around, he bombs out of contention along with 34 other skiers -- two of whom did not start their run at all.

The weather was not kind to Miller and the other competitors, who battled against falling snow -- and not the artificial type that organizers sprayed on the course two days ago. There was almost zero visibility at the time of the meet.

"It's certainly a bummer and as the course got skied out," Miller's American coach Will Gregorak said. "It's not good on the upper pitch. I feel bum for him but he had an excellent warm up this morning."

So frustrated with his DNF that Miller rushed back to the Olympic Village with dad Kelly. 

"Asa didn't want to ski just to finish, he wants to ski lay down and run," said Gregorak. "The hard part about this hill is that it comes out as you ride and it gets very slick."

Switzerland's Marco Odermatt topped the first run after finishing the course with a time of 1:02.93. He is closely followed by Austria's Stefan Brennsteiner (1:02.97) and France's Mathieu Faivre (1:03.01).

The second run of the men's giant slalom has been postponed amid heavy snowfall and low visibility at the Yanqing Alpine Skiing Center.

It is the first time snow has fallen during an Alpine skiing race at the Beijing Olympics.

Snow has been falling since Saturday at the Yanqing Alpine Skiing Centre, where athletes had been racing and training on artificial snow. A second women’s downhill training run scheduled for Sunday was canceled.

Gregorak said he is proud of Miller despite the DNF.

"I'm still proud of him, he still put out the work," the coach said. "Like I said, he didn't go out [only] to finish. That's the nature of the sport, that's what could happen."

A total of 33 skiers did not finish, while Brazil's Michael Macedo and Armenia's Harutyun Harutyunyan did not start.

Miller will have another chance when he competes in the slalom on February 16, his second and last event of the Winter Games.

"Asa wants to put his head into slalom mode," said Gregorak. "He'll take today and let the frustration out and then tomorrow we will go back to slalom."

The other Southeast Asian skiers that entered in the event, Thailand's Nicola Zanon and Timor Leste's Yohan Goncalves Goutt, finished at Nos. 44 and 52, respectively, to advance to the second run.