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Misstep costs Miller a medal as Austrian wins downhill



ROSA KHUTOR, Russia, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Bode Miller's dream of adding Olympic downhill gold to his chest of medals was obscured by the clouds on Sunday with the American cursing Mother Nature for his disappointing eighth place.

Hoping to win Alpine skiing's most coveted prize before hanging up his race boots, the 36-year-old American began as favourite after setting the pace in two of the three training runs under dazzling blue skies.

A thin veil of cloud ushered in race day, however, and just like the sun's rays, Miller's performance was diluted.

The eighth man to blast out of the starting gate 2,045 metres up in the Caucasus Mountains, six-times Olympic medallist Miller was quickest on the first two split times and still looked in good shape when the third checkpoint showed he was 0.02 seconds slower than eventual winner Matthias Mayer.

Down in the finish the crowd were transfixed, staring up at the mountain expecting Miller to fly over the final crest and speed to gold, but time leaked away and he looked crestfallen as he crossed the line outside the top three, half a second slower than the Austrian champion.

"It's tough, I was looking to win and felt I had a good chance at it and was well prepared," Miller, who missed the entire 2012-13 World Cup season to repair his left knee and prepare for a final tilt at the Olympics, told reporters.

"Visibility was the main thing when I went down, it had changed a lot from training runs when we had blue bird.

"The course conditions and the snow changed a lot, that was the biggest factor of all. The middle and bottom section slowed down so much from the beginning to when I went that you would have had to do something magical to win.

"In ski racing 20 minutes of time makes a massive difference to snow conditions."


PACKED ENCLOSURE

Miller received a kiss from wife Morgan in the finish area but nothing could mask his disappointment as he wound his way through a packed media enclosure.

The former wildman has thrilled ski crowds for more than a decade with his white-knuckle rides down the most fearsome pistes in the world.

For three days in training he rolled back the years, pacifying a hill he said could "kill you" and leading some of his rivals to suggest the title was "Bode's to lose".

In the end the sport's great showman could offer little more than half-hearted excuses, although he will still believe he can return from Russia with medals.

"I ski a bit more on the edge than the other guys and I don't have as much tolerance for not being able to see the snow at the beginning of the turns," Miller said.

"I need to know where the little bumps are. I was right on the edge in training but when the visibility goes a little south like it did today it's really hard.

"To know that it's an Olympic race, a medal's on the line and you wanna win it, and to know that you've got to dial it back to 80 percent, that doesn't fit very well."

Miller could not even match his third place in the downhill at Vancouver, or the fifth he achieved in Turin and was beaten by young American team mate Travis Ganong.

"I would have loved to win," he said. "I've thought about this a lot but when it's out of your control that kind of takes the disappointment away a little.

"I don't think I would change much because I skied well enough to win but it just didn't happen."

Despite eclipsing his idol, Ganong, who was seven when Miller began his career, offered words of sympathy.

"He's so fast when he comes back, he's amazing," he said. "Here in the training runs he was so dominant but it's about race day, and everyone brings their A game.

"He's an inspiration, a legend and it's sure nice having him as a team mate." (Editing by Ed Osmond)

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bob February 09 2014 at 10:47 PM

To make a Olympic team from any nation is a honor . he doesn't have anything to prove to anyone . There was a cross country skier from a nation where he was the only athlete from his nation and he predicted he would finish last but he was a Olympic participant

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david_dejesus February 10 2014 at 1:25 AM

Nicely said Bob.

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tierkh1 February 09 2014 at 8:35 PM

Don't count your chickens before they're hatched!!

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Jeff Puha February 09 2014 at 8:25 PM

Yeah. It's really easy for all of you keyboard couch potatoes to criticize someone, considering what stellar achievements you have undoubtedly accomplished in your exemplary lives.

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Way Cool Jr. February 09 2014 at 7:46 PM

bode miller is from new hampshire, i have lived in new hampshire for 18 years, and the "natives" here are known for making excuses for thier short-comings. i have always thought bodie miller was over rated, but then again, that is the medias fault, building someone up to be larger than life, or to be better than they really are, and then they don't perform as billed. let him retire into obscurity now, he will always have his stories of how "great" he was thet he can tell at the counter of the local diner.

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kevinhh108 February 09 2014 at 7:06 PM

Bode's legacy will always be that of an under achiever with sh#t for brains.

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vladimir February 10 2014 at 12:57 AM

I believe that he focused too much on Russia's anti gay laws and forgot to focus on what the U>S> taxpayers wasted their money on Bube Miller.

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ffishb February 09 2014 at 6:33 PM

If he REALLY knew his craft, he would have overcome all that he made excuses about

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Dennis Morris February 09 2014 at 8:01 PM

That is exactly right .....ffishb.......and its as simple as that.

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hedunlap February 09 2014 at 5:45 PM

Bode, excuses are like ********, everybody has one.

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Dennis Morris February 09 2014 at 5:47 PM

Can not argue with that........Lol

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Rich February 09 2014 at 5:57 PM

As do you, a**h***!

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prob17 February 09 2014 at 5:29 PM

I will not watch the Olympics as they killed dogs to make ready for the event.

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bestentaround February 09 2014 at 8:23 PM

great observation ---cruelty for glory

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fredwhyzer February 09 2014 at 5:21 PM

He's nothing but an old, off balanced drunk who is pretty well used up for 36. He should just go on back to Cow Hampshire and give speeches at high schools. He had a lot going for him, but when a person is struggling with addiction issues, it's best to just try to stay low, and to stay sober. That's just not happening. All of the Americans have something wrong with their knees. Is there something in the water over there?

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jdonoh4 February 09 2014 at 5:13 PM

Jamacia???

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Dennis Morris February 09 2014 at 5:33 PM

Yea.....Lol.....Half Moon or Tryall.....(oh...different conditions....lol)....well, can't whine about not seeing the greens there, or not seeing the breaks in the greens either.....if the caddy is prepared for suttle changes each day (and they are)......and one wouldn't try a round in a thunderstorm to begin with ....while waiting for the weather to pass is usually not a big deal anyway......jdonah4

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