Alpine skiing: Miller to skip Kitzbuehel downhill

American veteran Bode Miller will not race Saturday's prestigious World Cup downhill in Kitzbuehel, but will tick the right television broadcasting boxes by competing as a forerunner.

The 37-year-old, with one eye firmly fixed on achieving better race fitness for next month's World Ski Championships on home snow, also opted out of racing the downhill in Wengen last week despite having completed a training run down the longest course on the circuit.

The American finished sixth in Thursday's second training run in Austria, having also finished Tuesday's first session, but he immediately cast doubt on whether he would actually take part in Saturday's lucrative race, just eight weeks out of back surgery.

"He will be a forerunner for television," US ski team coach Sasha Rearick confirmed, meaning Miller will be one of four racers, normally rising local stars, who ski untimed down the course before the official start.

"We must be intelligent and take the right decisions at the right moment," Rearick said. "Today Bode showed he can still ski, but he's still not at 100 percent.

"We hope he'll make his return at the world champs."

It is a blow for the tens of thousands of fans who pack into the downtown finish area and for many of whom Miller is heralded as one of the most attacking and entertaining skiers on the circuit.

Earlier Thursday, Miller, twice a runner-up in the Kitzbuehel downhill, warned that he might not race the toughest, scariest piste on the World Cup circuit.

"The skiing is coming, the equipment is coming, it's just a matter of making sure I don't make any backward steps for my back," he said.

"The problem is there's a reason why everyone calls it the toughest race in the world, there's no margin for error. You make one small mistake and you end up in hospital."

He added: "I have to be smart about it. I'm sure there's a discussion to have because I was fast today and I felt my fitness was fine.

"It's just the risk management and how that factors into where I'm at. Obviously I do want to try and be safe, but I want to win, too.

"I'm only eight weeks and a couple of days out of surgery for my back. You ask any doctor whether it's a good idea to run the Hahnenkamm eight weeks out of surgery on a blown out disc and they'll pretty much unanimously tell you the same thing: it's not a good idea.

"I do sometimes defy the doctors but in this case it might be a good idea to listen to them."

Given his time away from snow, six-time Olympic medallist and former four-time world champion Miller added that a lot of time has been spent garnering invaluable information on his equipment.

"Today the equipment worked really well," he said Thursday. "We've been trying to get through a season's worth of testing in a matter of a few runs.

"The other (first) training run I went out the gate and by the time I went off the Mausfalle (jump high up the course) I was like 'Argh, this is going to be a long run!'.

"I had no grip, no balance, I felt really awkward and on this hill that's not how you want to feel. But today I felt it right away that I had a little better grip and the balance was good but I still have to back off in some places because the risk is so high.

"If you just get caught on an edge a little bit, the compression forces here are so big on your body because the snow is so hard.

"It's unbelievable, you hit one bump and your ski sticks and it's like having a car dropped on your back. But the parts where I pushed, I pushed hard and skied well."

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