WHEN AUSTRIAN bricklayer Hermann Maier became the most dominant ski racer in the world in 1998, Bode Miller of the U.S. was toiling largely in the sport's minor leagues. Four years later, when Miller broke through, Maier was beginning the long recovery from an August 2001 motorcycle accident that nearly ended his career. They have only occasionally been concurrently at the top of their games. It may happen again this winter. On Sunday, Maier, two months short of his 33rd birthday, won the traditional season-opening giant slalom on the gnarly Rettenbach glacier, high above the Austrian town of Soelden. Miller, 28, who won the Soelden GS in 2003 and '04 (and the World Cup overall title last year), was second, only .07 of a second behind. Miller's performance came 17 days after his younger brother, pro snowboarder Chelone, 22, suffered a head injury in a motorcycle crash. (Bode told SI last week that Chelone has made strong steps toward recovery.)
The season resumes on Thanksgiving weekend and rushes through the winter with 38 more races (and one Olympics). It seems unlikely that Sunday's will be the last Maier-Miller--or Miller-Maier--one-two finish.