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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 22, 2010

It's Miller Time: Bode finally golden

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Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Bode Miller of the United States pulled off a remarkable comeback to win the men's super-combined.

GERO BRELOER | Associated Press

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WHISTLER, British Columbia Bode Miller finally won his elusive gold medal, using a blistering slalom run yesterday to complete one of the most unlikely Olympic comebacks in history.

Four years after bombing out amid lofty expectations at the Turin Games and a year after practically walking away from the sport, Miller won the super-combined for his third medal in as many events at Vancouver.

Seventh after the morning downhill run, Miller skied the third-fastest afternoon slalom leg for a two-run time of 2 minutes, 44.92 seconds a comfortable 0.33 ahead of Ivica Kostelic of Croatia, who matched his silver medal at Turin. Silvan Zurbriggen of Switzerland claimed bronze, 0.40 back.

For a guy who has insisted that medals aren't important, this one clearly was special.

"The way I executed, the way I skied, is something I'll be proud of the rest of my life," Miller said.

"I skied with 100 percent heart I didn't hold anything back. ... It's just awesome. There's nothing else to say."

Having skipped summer training while he debated retiring, Miller nearly didn't have enough energy to hold on as he came over the final pitch of the slalom course.

"My legs started feeling really wobbly," he said. "I didn't even feel like I was looking at the gate anymore."

Miller has also won a silver and a bronze at the Vancouver Games a sharp contrast from his no-medal performance in Turin.

Miller said he was running on "fumes" following his first two races, the downhill and the super-G.

"I felt awesome about it," he said. "But still, it's incredibly emotionally exhausting to do it like that.

"I've got one leg that's injured and another leg that's on my boat already," he added, looking forward to his postseason vacation.

Miller and Kostelic were 1-2 when downhill leader Aksel Lund Svindal came down, and when the big Norwegian failed to complete his slalom leg, Miller had the gold medal that had eluded him since he burst onto the scene with two silvers at Salt Lake City in 2002.

"I figured they both had really good runs, so I couldn't hold back," Svindal said. "I had to attack it if I had any chance to get that gold."

Miller increased his lead at both checkpoints in the slalom. He skied fluidly on the top, then started to get bounced up in the air as he tried to maintain his speed on the quicker gates in the lower section, just barely making one gate after another.

Miller opened these games by taking bronze in the downhill and silver in the super-G.

With five medals for his career, he is tied with Italy's Alberto Tomba and Norway's Lasse Kjus for second on the all-time Alpine list for men, trailing only the eight by Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway.

The three medals in Vancouver match the record for most by a man in Alpine skiing at a single Olympics.