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 . world ski news
21 February 2010 - 23:21
Miller finally captures Olympic gold in super-combined
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OLYMPICS, ALPINE SKIING. WHISTLER, B.C. - When the chant of "Bode, Bode, Bode" rippled through the crowd after the men's Olympic super-combined race in Whistler on Sunday, it wasn't just fans and spectators. Course slippers coming down added their voices to the chorus and joined the international throng of people clamoring to get Bode Miller's autograph.

Bode Miller of the USA takes the Gold Medal during the Men's Alpine Skiing Super Combined on Day 10 of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games on February 21, 2010 in Whistler, Canada. (February 20, 2010 - Photo by Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images North America)

Miller completed his set of Olympic medals on Sunday, finally claiming the gold. After finishing seventh in the downhill portion of the race, 0.76 seconds behind then-leader Aksel Lund Svindal, the American notched his third straight medal at these Whistler Games and the fifth of his career, winning in a combined time of 2 minutes, 44.92 seconds.

"It was just awesome," said the 32-year-old of his gold medal race, in the middle of which he said he was exhausted and "going on fumes."

Bode Miller of the USA takes the Gold Medal during the Men's Alpine Skiing Super Combined on Day 10 of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games on February 21, 2010 in Whistler, Canada. (February 20, 2010 - Photo by Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images North America)

"It's how I used to ski when I was little. That is the way I skied when I first came into the World Cup," he said. "I had to just get fully fired up to take maximum risk."

Blazing down a slalom course set by his father, Ivica Kostelic, who was just more than a second back in ninth place after the downhill, defended his Olympic super-combined silver medal, finishing 0.33 seconds behind Miller. After the race, the 30-year-old Croatian who has come back from several health setbacks since the last Olympics said he could have won had he given it his all.

Ivica Kostelic of Croatia takes the Silver Medal during the Men's Alpine Skiing Super Combined on Day 10 of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games on February 21, 2010 in Whistler, Canada. (February 20, 2010 - Photo by Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images North America)

"My goal was to get a medal. I skied like that. I didn't give it 100 percent risk," he said. "There is quite a bit of luck involved. If you're a little less lucky you might not win, or you might get bronze instead of gold."

Ivica Kostelic of Croatia takes the Silver Medal during the Men's Alpine Skiing Super Combined on Day 10 of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games on February 21, 2010 in Whistler, Canada. (February 20, 2010 - Photo by Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images North America)

The man with the bronze Sunday was Swiss tech specialist Silvan Zurbriggen, who, after finishing third in the downhill part of the race, was 0.40 back overall, and surprised after what he felt was a conservative slalom run, to end up with a medal.

Silvan Zurbriggen of Switzerland takes the Bronze Medal during the Men's Alpine Skiing Super Combined on Day 10 of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games on February 21, 2010 in Whistler, Canada. (February 20, 2010 - Photo by Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images North America)

"I was very nervous during the downhill and I was even more nervous during the slalom," Zurbriggen said. "I thought I had skied safely, without taking risks. So this is amazing and unbelievable."

As for Ante Kostelic's course set, it did its work in eliminating some top contenders, although Ivica said there was only one trick gate in the whole course. But one was all it took for fellow Croatian Natko Zrnic-Dim to fall to 20th, sliding onto his hip and recovering to finish what could have otherwise been a medal-winning run. Italian Manfred Moelgg made an early exit off the course, Andrej Sporn threw himself out of the race and finally Svindal, the last one down, straddled that tricky gate.

"With a course like this you have to ski but you also have to think," Ivicia Kostelic said. "We trained on some of these combinations that my dad set today. It was an advantage here for all the slalom racers because the slalom was a quite demanding one. It gave us a chance to make up the time we had lost in the downhill."

Though Kostelic was sorry to see Svindal go down in the slalom, he said it was heartening to witness Miller's joy at his long-awaited gold finish.

"It's his dream come true," Kostelic said of Miller. "Our careers have been somewhat intertwined. I was very impressed with his skiing a couple of years back. He's a great skier. He deserves to be an Olympic champion. He's a man that usually doesn't show emotion, but while we were sitting in the tent, he was just so happy."

For Miller though, as he's said so many times before, the medal is not the source of his happiness.

"I feel great. I feel awesome," he said, adding that he would feel the same way if his slalom run had left him in fourth place (like Carlo Janka) rather than with a gold medal around his neck.

"Accomplishment doesn't hinge on the medal, it's on the skiing. I was doing it for the skiing itself, not the result."

But to ski this well at the Olympics ... that does mean something to Miller.

"It's the Olympics. I wanted to win," he said. "It feels amazing. I never really had too many confidence issues in my skiing, but to execute on a day like today, I'll be proud of this for the rest of my life. I skied with 100 percent heart."

by Shauna Farnell
Monday 22 February 2010

First Olympic gold medal for Bode Miller

Miller achieved one of his most impressive performances in a major event on Sunday at Whistler Creek capturing the Olympic Super-combined event to earn his first Olympic gold medal and record fifth in total since 2002.

Miller's five Olympic medals have come in four different disciplines. He received two silvers in Salt Lake - in giant slalom and in the former two-run slalom combined - and has rounded up in Vancouver with downhill bronze, Super-G silver, and Super combined gold.

Ivica Kostelic of Croatia celebrates his Silver medal, Bode Miller of the United States Gold and Silvan Zurbriggen of Switzerland Bronze during the medal ceremony for the Men's Alpine Skiing Super Combined on day 10 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Whistler Medals Plaza on February 21, 2010 in Whistler, Canada. (February 20, 2010 - Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images North America)

After clocking the seventh best time in the downhill portion of the event, seven tenths of a second behind leader Aksel Lund Svindal, the 32-year-old racer from Franconia fought hard in the slalom leg to defend his gold medal chances. Despite his fatigue, Miller managed to set the third best performance in that run to establish a new overall best time which remained out of reach for the other favorites.

"When I passed the line, I did my normal thing and stood for a second and I was like 'That was unbelievable, I can't ask for anything more,' " Miller said after the race. "For my first Olympic gold, it was absolutely perfect."

Exhausted from a training crash in slalom, an ailing ankle and medals festivities, Miller said he got a rush of inspiration before his second run, in which he zipped past Croatia's Ivica Kostelic by 33/100 of a second for gold.

"Within ten seconds before the race, I started to get that bouncy feeling where everything hones in," he said. "I started to get the shivers a little bit and that energy. That's what I've had in all the races leading up until now and I knew it was what I needed in the slalom."

Miller had to dig deep for his slalom. "It was tired at the bottom," Miller said. "On that last pitch, my legs started to feel wobbly, and it didn't even feel like I was looking at the gates anymore. I was exhausted. "

"I already had to work hard on myself this morning to get me psyched up for the race with one leg injured and the other one already in my boat," also explained Bode who has been spending much time last year with his two-year-old daughter Dacey in San Diego, California, where he plans to buy his own boat.

"I knew I had a great run going, but I don't know how I got those last 15 gates through the finish," Miller also added. "It was just willpower. My legs were completely shot. On a run like that, you're functioning on inspiration and willpower. It's not muscle or anything deliberate, it's things you're drawing up from somewhere else."

Miller's third medal in Whistler, the fifth in gold including the one collected at the FIS Worlds at St Moritz and Bormio in 2003 and 2005, was his first Olympic gold but he insisted his smiles and his celebrations reflected a satisfaction with his run and not just the medal.

"The gold medal is great, it's perfect, that's what everyone is shooting for but the way I skied in these last races is what matters. I would have been proud of that skiing whether I got the medals or not. The three medals are kind of a distraction, because it makes everyone think I am proud of the races because I got the medals. "

The sometimes enigmatic all-rounder from New Hampshire has been labelled self-centered by some of his critics but it is to his credit that he spent time, after the flower ceremony held in the finish are, praising the performances of lesser known skiers here.

"Some of these guys are skiing at levels they have never been at before," he told the press. "It might not look that impressive because they might not be great skiers or they don't have great equipment but that is what the Olympics is supposed to be about."

Miller, who supposedly hated the Turin Games, now believes there really is something special about the Olympics which raises performances, including his own.

"By using the Olympics for what it is supposed to be - as an inspirational tool the level I skied today is right at the very, very top. You can't get that just on call, it's not like you turn a key and magically ski your absolute best. "

"But when you are at the Olympics, with the energy and everything else, you can use that to bring your game up. To be able to do that well a few races in a row....there is a huge element of luck involved but it feels absolutely amazing," he explained.

Miller won nothing in Turin four years ago and cut an unhappy figure as he hopped over fences to escape from the questions of a demanding U.S media. It was unthinkable then that the now 32-year-old would be hinting that this Winter Games, his fourth, may not be the end of his career.

"I feel pretty old, I don't know what my plan is really, having already quit once, it seems I came back for a reason and this was why. But it doesn't mean that I am done. The reason (I quit) was that I wanted to make sure I had the right motivation. I am going to have to sit down after this season and figure out which direction to go in."

"I feel good and when I race like I have been here it really is amazing, just awesome. It is fun to do, it really is challenging at a level that you just can't find anywhere else. I'd feel pretty stupid to give that up if I could continue. "

At the end of his third press conference, Miller also mentioned that a part of the child who spent entire winters insatiably cruising down the slopes at Franconia can still be found in him nowadays. "I have been skiing here with the same joy and the same spirit as in those days," he said afterwards.

On Tuesday, Bode will again give his best for another great day on the mountain during the two giant slalom runs. He has not excelled recently in that specialty which used to be his best in his early years on the tour. Back in 2001, he won his first World Cup race at Val d'Isère in giant slalom and in 2004 he captured his first World Cup title in that specialty. So more surprises can be expected.

Monday 22 February 2010

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SCHMID (SUI) claims third Freestyle Gold for Switzerland in Men's Ski Cross – 22 February 2010 - 01:15
Racing from the heart is working for Bode these days – 22 February 2010 - 11:14
Gold for Austria never in doubt – 22 February 2010 - 23:38
Germany's Ladies took Gold in Team Sprint – 23 February 2010 - 00:40
Norway sprints for Gold – 23 February 2010 - 01:42

Ski Jumping COC-M: Freund and Matura win in Brotterode (GER) – 21 February 2010 - 16:18
Hellner shines in 30 km Pursuit – 21 February 2010 - 01:45
Victory! Ammann equals Nykaenen's record – 21 February 2010 - 01:21
Fischi flies to Olympic gold – 20 February 2010 - 21:59
Heartbreak at Cypress, Dave Duncan broke his clavicle on the first training for the Men's Ski Cr – 20 February 2010 - 19:57

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