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Miller calls a halt to his iron man streak

As much as Bode Miller, New England's claim to having produced a true ski champion, has accomplished in his relatively young life -- the highlight being last year's World Cup championship -- there was another record in his name. Since March 6, 2002, Miller has started every World Cup race and the streak stands at 136.

That run will end this weekend. Miller will miss his first Cup race in almost four years when he skips the downhill and super-G at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

US ski team officials said yesterday that Miller is taking a break, ending his streak.

His withdrawal from the races means Miller has all but given up on defending his overall World Cup title and is focusing on the Turin Olympics, which begin Feb. 10.

''It's not so important for him, the overall," US team spokesman Marc Habermann said. ''He won it last year. This is something that had been discussed since the start of the season, taking a break before the Olympics."

Miller plans to compete in all five events at the Olympics and is expected to race in Chamonix, France, Feb. 3-4. Miller has always contended that the mark has meant little to him.

Talking to Ski Racing's Nate Vinton, Miller first assessed: ''It's one of those baseball records that doesn't really mean anything." But later Miller said, ''It's not an indicator of how good you are, but in a sense, it does make a statement."

And the statement is not lost on the 28-year-old's competitors, most of them calling the feat amazing -- and a few saying they would not try such a thing. Said 32-year old teammate Daron Rahlves: ''He's in damn good shape to be able to do that." And 21-year-old Ted Ligety: ''I hope maybe some day I'll be doing that. It's definitely a big accomplishment and a testament to his endurance."

Joining the team
Jeremy Bloom, Jeret ''Speedy" Peterson, and Hannah Kearney -- defending world champions in freestyle skiing -- lead a 14-person freestyle team for the Turin Games announced yesterday by the US Ski and Snowboard Team. Kearny, a Norwich, Vt., native who skis out of Waterville Valley, N.H., won her berth last December at an Olympic Trials race. Kearney joins veterans Shannon Bahrke, a 2002 Olympic silver medalist, Michelle Roark and Jillian Vogtli in moguls. Men's moguls will feature Bloom -- who has hopes of entering the NFL Draft just a week after the Games -- Travis Cabral, Toby Dawson, and Travis Mayer. Another New Englander, Emily Cook of Belmont, is one of two women on the aerials team. Having missed the last Olympics because of an injury suffered just days before the Salt Lake City opening, Cook will be joined by Jana Lindsey of Black Hawk, S.D. In men's aerials, veterans Joe Pack and Eric Bergoust join Peterson and Ryan St. Onge, relative newcomers . . . The US Olympic Alpine squads also were announced yesterday with few surprises. Among the members on the men's side are Jimmy Corcoran of Keene, N.H., fellow Granite Stater Miller, Erik Schlopy, Rahlves, and Ligety. Kirsten Clark of Raymond, Maine, earned a spot on the women's team, joining such stars as Lindsey Kildow, Kristina Koznick, Caroline Lalive, and Julia Mancuso.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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