Miller's time arrives 

Skier captures first gold

Bode Miller's failures dominated the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. His brilliance is turning into the big story of the 2010 Games in Vancouver.

Miller earned his first gold medal at the Olympics, blistering the Whistler Creekside course and rallying to win the super combined.

The 32-year-old American was in seventh place after the downhill portion of the race. But his time of 51.01 seconds in the slalom lifted him over Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal, among others. Miller finished with a combined time of 2 minutes, 44.92 seconds -- 0.33 better than runner-up Ivica Kostelic of Croatia. None of the skiers who finished in the top five of the downhill portion made the podium.

Alpine notes

» American Ted Ligety won gold in the super combined in Torino. This time he placed fifth in 2:45.82.

» The bronze medal went to Switzerland’s Silvan Zurbriggen (2:45.32), who missed silver by .07. Countryman Carlo Janka was fourth.

» The United States had four skiers place in the top 11 in super combined. Will Brandenburg was 10th (2:47.06) and Andrew Weibrecht (2:47.58) — the bronze medalist in super-G — finished 11th.

"It was completely fast on the bottom. On that last pitch, my legs started to feel wobbly, and it didn't even feel like I was looking at the gates anymore," Miller said. "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.' For my first Olympic gold, it was absolutely perfect."

Miller previously won a bronze medal in the men's downhill and took silver Friday in the super-G. He is only the 12th Alpine skier to win three medals in the same Winter Olympics and now has five overall. Miller also took silver in the super combined and giant slalom races in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

His performance in Vancouver has erased the sour memories of the 2006 Games in Torino. There, Miller entered hoping to win multiple medals. Instead he left with none as critics carped about his attitude and dedication to the sport. As recently as last summer Miller contemplated retirement after struggling at last year's world championships.

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

The U.S. Alpine team continued its historic Olympics with a total of eight medals through six events. That's three more than the previous mark set by the group that went to Sarajevo in 1984. And there are still four events to go this week -- men's and women's slalom and giant slalom.

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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Brian McNally

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I've been given the chance to write about some of the best athletes in the world. Can't imagine a job more fun than that.
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