Olympics: US veteran Miller confirms golden credentials

Agence France-Presse

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US veteran Bode Miller produced a near-flawless display to win the men's third and final downhill training run on Saturday, his second victory in three days on the Rosa Khutor piste.

BODING WELL. Bode Miller of the USA in action during the second training session of the Men's Downhill race at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games. Photo by Justin Lane/EPA

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia – US veteran Bode Miller produced a near-flawless display to win the men’s third and final downhill training run on Saturday, his second victory in three days on the Rosa Khutor piste.

The 36-year-old, who won gold, silver and bronze (super-combined, super-G, downhill) at the Vancouver Games four years ago, clocked 2min 6.09sec down the 3.5km-long course.

His performance, following his leading time in Thursday’s training run and sixth place on Friday, was the perfect tonic ahead of Sunday’s downhill race.

“The idea’s to be unbeatable,” said Miller. “Race day’s always different. It’s going to be hard to stay calm. I’m going to be ready, I want to win.”

Having hinted that he might go easy in the third training run, the American did anything but that.

“Not kill myself was primary, secondary was fixing that mistake I made above the Bear Jump yesterday,” he said of the goal of his third outing on a course he dubbed “treacherous”.

“It’s one of those courses that I don’t think you’re safer by going easy. The teeth of this course is based on your athleticism and getting on the front of the ski. If you try and go easy, you’re more than likely to get hurt.

“This course is so damn fast and the snow is so hard that you definitely don’t want to sacrifice edge pressure and ability to build pressure on the ski for a better aerodynamic position.”

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Miller added: “It’s very treacherous. This course has teeth everywhere, the top is aggressive, speeds are so high, and it’s swingy and bumpy and you can hook an edge anywhere.”

Miller’s US teammate Marco Sullivan did that and almost crashed out in spectacular fashion.

“You saw Marco today. It looks like an innocuous place, there’s nothing there but he almost killed himself. If that crash doesn’t go just the way it went, he goes flying through the nets going 75 (mph) into the trees,” Miller said.

“If you’re not totally focused and paying attention, this course can kill you.”

Icy conditions and tight turns high up the piste bathed in glorious sunshine played havoc with racers, Sullivan eventually crossing the line as early runners struggled.

Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, the reigning world downhill champion and silver medallist in the discipline four years ago, was the closest to Miller, at 0.66sec.

Italian duo Peter Fill and Werner Hill were next fastest down, at more than 1sec off Miller’s electrifying pace.

Defending Olympic champion Didier Defago was in 10th at 2.07sec, with Swiss teammate Carlo Janka’s recent return to form enough to see him finish fifth.

Good news for Svindal’s Norway team were the top 10 finishes for Kjetil Jansrud and 21-year-old Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, while France’s world bronze medallist David Poisson came in ninth just behind 2011 world downhill champ Erik Guay of Canada.

But Svindal was impressed by Miller’s skiing.

“I have been all week. I didn’t ski perfectly but I didn’t think I would be that far behind. That’s impressive skiing,” the 31-year-old Norwegian said, adding that you could not yet pencil in Miller’s name as the gold medallist.

“Skiing’s never like that because there’s just too many things that can happen. Is he the favourite? I think so. He’s been the best skier on this mountain.

“Right now he looks like the favourite, but there’s me and three or four other guys who could beat him: Matthias Mayer for sure, (Patrick) Kueng could be fast again, then there’s always some surprises in skiing. Carlo Janka skied really well. He’s been fast too.”

Svindal said the increase in falls after two relatively incident-free training days was down to racers testing themselves and the “rattly snow in the lead-up to the jumps”.

“It’s not that easy,” he said. “It’s a very challenging hill, one of the more challenging hills that we’re on this year.

“There were a lot of close calls yesterday and it was only a matter of time before something happened… hopefully it’ll be OK tomorrow.” – Rappler.com

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