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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cool, calm Miller wins bronze in men's downhill

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By Chris Dufresne
Los Angeles Times

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Bode Miller

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WHISTLER, British Columbia Bode Miller went from making trouble in Turin to making history in Whistler, and that transformation may be an ongoing story in the 2010 Olympics.

Four years after getting shut out in Olympic medals and shouted down by the media, Miller got Vancouver off to a gate-roaring start yesterday by taking bronze in the men's downhill.

Miller's third medal he captured double silver in 2002 at Salt Lake gives him more Olympic hardware than any skier in the history of American Alpine.

"To win a medal for the U.S., in the first event we had a chance to, it's great for my team," Miller said.

It was a remarkable quote from a skier who once skirted the fall line of insubordination, leaving the U.S. ski team after 2006 to go it alone.

Miller returned to the U.S. team in September, soon to be 32, woefully out of shape and vowing his actions, not words, would prove he deserved another look.

Miller missed gold by .09 basically an eye blink.

Didier Defago, a formidable veteran but somewhat overlooked on a Swiss team that boasted stars Didier Cuche and Carlo Janka, took the gold.

Defago's winning time down the Dave Murray course was 1 minute, 54.31 seconds, which bested silver winner Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway by .07.

It was the first gold for Switzerland in the downhill since Pirmin Zurbriggen won at the 1988 Calgary Games.

Defago has three World Cup victories, but this was his first Olympic medal.

"This is what I was missing," he said. "I wanted to bring back more weight in my luggage than what I came with."

Miller said he's not the same guy who partied all night before he bolted out of start gates in Italy. He was trying to win then, no doubt, but approached the Turin Olympic races with a cold, tactical calculation.

Missing were the kind of butterflies he felt at the top yesterday.

"When we were in the lodge before the first run, it was clear this was not a World Cup," Miller said. "Everyone was feeling something different. It was cool for me. It was sort of what I've been looking for, the feeling I've been searching for, and I let it build up. I was real nervous before I went excited nervous, not anxiety nervous."

The rest of America didn't fare as well. Steven Nyman checked in at No. 20 with Andrew Weibrecht a spot behind.

Miller's next scheduled race is today's super combined one run of downhill and a turn at slalom.