Winter Games: Asa Miller eyes redemption in slalom

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 15 2022 02:32 PM

Asa Miller (left) preparing for his last day of ski training for Wednesday’s slalom event in the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games at the National Alpine Skiing Centre. The other individuals in photo are American coach Will Gregorak (right) and Asa’s father Kelly. Handout courtesy of the POC.https://sa.kapamilya.com/absnews/abscbnnews/media/2022/sports/02/15/oly_slalom_asa-miller.jpg
Asa Miller (left) preparing for his last day of ski training for Wednesday’s slalom event in the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games at the National Alpine Skiing Centre. The other individuals in photo are American coach Will Gregorak (right) and Asa’s father Kelly. Handout courtesy of the POC.

Alpine skier Asa Miller gets a shot at redemption in the men's slalom on Wednesday at the Beijing Winter Olympics -- an event that has proven to be unpredictable throughout the season.

Miller took the day off on Monday to shake off the frustration from his disappointing performance in the giant slalom on Sunday. He was back on the course Tuesday, preparing not just physically but mentally as well.

"Trust your feet and trust yourself as the skier you are," was the advice offered by American coach Will Gregorak to Miller 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."

While the start list won't be finalized until the coaches' meeting later in the day, Miller will definitely be up against world-class opponents -- including the man they call "The Rocket," English skier David Ryding.

Most eyes are on Ryding, whose tough task is to end Great Britain'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 was aggressive in helping 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."

Alpine skiing has been unpredictable 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.

Miller was one of 33 skiers — out of 84 starters — who were DNF, or Did Not Finish, in the giant slalom on Sunday when natural 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 concentrated on his training and only smiled or waved his hand when sought for an interview.

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

"It's an easier slalom hill than GS [giant slalom] where the upper and lower pitches were very difficult," said Gregorak, who owns 23 World Cup stints while playing for the US team from 2008 to 2014. "This is exactly a mellow slalom, not a particularly difficult hill so there should be plenty of skiers who will go pretty intensely."

"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 giant slalom's first run is also set at 10 a.m. and the second run at 1:45 p.m.