VAL D'ISERE, France — Bode Miller did something an American man hadn't done since 1983: He won a giant slalom.

And he did it Sunday against the circuit's best technical skiers for his first World Cup victory.

"I felt I could ski fast enough to win for a long time," said Miller, of Franconia, N.H. "To have a World Cup victory under my belt is important. To see an American on the podium after such a long time is important. It charges everyone up."

The last American man to win a World Cup giant slalom was Phil Mahre 18 years ago in Bormio, Italy.

It was also the first World Cup win by an American man in more than a year. Daron Rahlves, the super-G world champion, won consecutive downhills in Kvitfjell, Norway, in February 2000.

France's Frederic Covili, who won the season-opening giant slalom, was second Sunday. Austria's Stephan Eberharter, winner of the weekend's downhill and super-G races, was third.

A promising, fluid skier who has long been deemed a threat, Miller nearly took a spill at the top of his second run and won by .02 seconds.

"I was fired up, anyway, but going down on my hip made it urgent that I ski well," said Miller, who crashed in a super G Friday and was 32nd in a downhill Saturday.

Miller was third after the opening leg, then had an excellent second run to win in a combined time of 2 minutes, 36.02 seconds.

"Going down on his hip really tightened his focus, and he was so on it after that, attacking down the fall line," U.S. coach Jesse Hunt said. "It was so beautiful to watch."

With the Olympics in Salt Lake City less than two months away, the victory was a boost for an American team that produced nothing but poor results in speed events the past few days.

"There's no way of quantifying it, but it gives everyone energy," Miller said. "Everyone has hopes about their own abilities. Most of the skiers on our team are at the same level as I am, so when I won, they're all thinking they can do the same.

Covili was timed in 2:36.04. Eberharter, who led after the first run, finished in 2:36.82.

"I was tired from the downhill and super G and I hadn't trained for the giant slalom so I'm happy with my result," Eberharter said.

Eberharter leads the overall World Cup rankings with 340 points. Miller is second at 225 and Covili is third with 180.

Miller recorded his previous best giant slalom results at this French resort, finishing third and sixth. The last American to win in Val d'Isere was AJ Kitt in the downhill in 1991.

"I realize this is just a start," Miller said. "This is just one day. I'd like to show over the course of time I'm the fastest giant slalom skier."

His victory came a day after Silvano Beltrametti was paralyzed from the chest down in a high-speed crash in the downhill. The Swiss skier is in stable condition in a hospital in Grenoble. His family plans to transfer him to a facility specializing in spine trauma in Nottwil, Switzerland.