Bode Miller is the first American man in 20 years to lead the World Cup overall standings.
The skier from Franconia, N.H., won his second straight World Cup giant slalom yesterday in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, overtaking defending champion Stephan Eberharter for the overall lead. Not since Phil Mahre in 1983 has a U.S. man occupied that spot.
"I had no idea," said Miller, shrugging. "It just goes to show how much importance I give it. I just know it was a great race today and I hope I can carry the momentum into tomorrow's slalom."
The strong showing by the United States was bolstered by Erik Schlopy (Stowe, Vt.), who finished fourth. Christian Mayer of Austria was second and Sami Uotila of Finland was third.
"I wanted to see Erik do well as bad as I wanted to win," Miller said. "It's a goal of ours to be on the podium together."
Miller, who also took over first place in the giant slalom standings, had the best time in the second leg after finishing third in the opening run.
He had a combined time of 2 minutes 4.15 seconds, with Mayer 0.83 seconds behind. Uotila rallied from 14th place to finish in 2:04.99.
This marked the third straight victory for the U.S. men's team, with Miller winning a giant slalom in Alta Badia, Italy, two weeks ago and Daron Rahlves taking a downhill in Bormio, Italy, last week.
"Bode is big about the team," U.S. Coach Phil McNichol said. "He cares so much."
The U.S. team has four top-three finishes this season and has had skiers in the top 10 in all but two races.
"I don't think there has been this depth on the team since, well . . . I'd have to look back in the record books," McNichol said. "Once Erik makes the podium, then we'll have three guys capable of reaching the top three."
Miller has 578 points in the overall standings and Eberharter is second at 555.
* WOMEN'S SKIING: Switzerland's Sonja Nef won for the first time this season, capturing a giant slalom in Bormio, Italy, in which Janica Kostelic crashed near the end of her second run.
Nef, the giant slalom world and World Cup champion, dominated the first run and finished in a combined 2:24.39. Anja Paerson of Sweden was second, 0.27 seconds behind, and Michaela Dorfmeister of Austria was third in 2:25.64.
The top U.S. finishers were Caroline Lalive in 16th place and Sarah Schleper in 18th.
* SPEED SKATING: Germany's Anni Friesinger skated in a class of her own at the European championships in Heerenveen, Netherlands, easily winning the 1,500- and 3,000-meter races. Gianni Romme of the Netherlands won the men's 1,500.
* LUGE: World Cup leader Markus Kleinheinz of Austria won the singles at the European Open in Koenigssee, Germany, after beating Olympic star Georg Hackl by 0.0011 seconds at the special elimination event.
* SKI JUMPING: In Innsbruck, Austria, Janne Ahonen of Finland won the third leg of the prestigious Four Hill event.