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U.S. skiers Miller and Vonn win overall World Cup

For the first time since 1983, Americans captured both the men's and women's titles at the season finale in Bormio, Italy.

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But this season offers a fuller measure of Miller, who also won the combined World Cup title. His goal is to ski faster than everyone else on the hill that day. Whether it is the Olympics or the Swiss slopes at Adelboden is largely immaterial. "It's not like there are different racers there," says Cameron Shaw-Doran, one of Miller's close friends.

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This year he went some way to prove his frequent assertion, which he made recently in a webchat for TIME magazine: "When I'm at speed and not making mistakes, I'm much, much faster than the rest of the world right now."

The product of a childhood in the New Hampshire mountains, living in a house with no electricity and given the liberty to wander off into the woods unsupervised, Miller has brought that independent spirit to his sport.

He is in many ways a pioneer – the first to begin using shaped skis for racing, which are now ubiquitous on the circuit, and someone who designed his own off-season workout programs. Shaw-Doran, who uses a wheelchair, says Miller pushes him on uphill sprints "because he says it works on his core in a way that pushing a wheelbarrow doesn't."

His insistence on living in an RV during the season, while other US skiers were required to stay in a hotel – hastened his split with the US team.

The fact that he won the World Cup overall title with a team entirely of his creating "says a lot for him," says Shaw-Doran.

Vonn's win a surprise – and dream

Even in off years, such as last season, Miller was still among the circuit's top skiers – winning the individual giant slalom title and finishing fourth overall. Vonn's rise, however, came as a surprise.

Before this year, the image of Vonn that endured is one of her crumpled at the bottom of the downhill run at the 2006 Olympics after a fall that required her to be airlifted to Turin hospital. She rebounded to race in four of five races.

She was fast and gutsy, but not always smart. If she made even the smallest mistake high on the course, she says, she would take bigger and bigger risks farther down the slope, compounding each error. The difference this year, she says, is a little more experience, and a husband who has convinced her to take a more calculated approach.

"I have been smarter about knowing when I can risk a lot," she said in the teleconference.

Now, she skis at 90 percent, she says – and that appears to be plenty good enough. Though she did well in other disciplines, she dominated the downhill. Of nine races this season, she won five, finished second in two, and was never out of the top five.

And that is as it should be, she says. Winning the downhill title was her goal this year. After all, she only ever wanted to be the next Picabo Street – America's queen of speed and, before now, the only American ever to win a World Cup downhill title. With the overall title, too, however, Vonn has gone one better.

And even the Europeans are applauding. McKinney was with Austrian legend Franz Klammer when she saw Vonn race at St. Moritz this year. On the teleconference, she recalled him saying: "Lindsey is skiing fantastic. She's the best skier this year."

Now, Vonn and Miller have World Cup crystal globes to prove it.

World Cup medals 2007-08

In a season-long contest that started before Halloween and ended this weekend in Bormio, Italy, Vonn and Miller collected the most points to win the combined and overall World Cup titles, while US skier Ted Ligety won the giant slalom. Points are awarded to the top 30 finishers in five disciplines: downhill, Super G, giant slalom, slalom, and combined with the first three skiers taking 100, 80, and 60 points, respectively. [Editor's note: The original version misstated which titles Miller won.]

The overall World Cup winners' point totals, and the margin of victory:

Ms. Vonn: 1,403 points – 220 points

Mr. Miller: 1,409 points – 111 points

Source: International Ski Federation