Miller hasn’t struck gold, but he’s close
Weibrecht bronze adds to US haul
VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Another men’s Alpine ski race. Another medal for Bode Miller.
Continuing to embrace the Olympic experience, Miller fought through fatigue to claim the silver medal in the men’s super-G at Whistler Creekside yesterday. The US veteran held the top spot until Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal posted a time of 1 minute 30.34 seconds, 0.28 seconds better than Miller. Andrew Weibrecht of the US was a surprise bronze medalist. Heading into the Games, Weibrecht’s career-best World Cup finish was 10th in 2007. He finished 0.03 seconds behind Miller.
“I came out of the gate absolutely crazy, no one could touch me,’’ said Miller, who took bronze in the men’s downhill Monday. “I made a few mistakes. I was tired. I couldn’t make my normal moves. On a lot of gates, I felt pinched in, I couldn’t get my turns.
“Once the momentum has built from a medal, you ride that, and you want to experience that moment in a pure way and not just be on the podium. Andrew felt that, too. He has not been as good as he was today for a long time.’’
With four career Olympic medals, including two silvers from the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, Miller tied an American record in Alpine skiing. Julia Mancuso got her third with a silver in the super combined Thursday. For Weibrecht, Mancuso provided inspiration.
“I’m not going to say she came out of nowhere, but she didn’t have the results she’s been having this week,’’ said Weibrecht. “I’m really impressed on how she did. To kind of come out of obscurity and throw down the run she did, it’s pretty encouraging and reminds us about what we can do.’’
Mancuso and Lindsey Vonn are back in action today with the super-G, giving the US more chances for medals in Alpine skiing.
With his Salt Lake silvers coming in the combined and giant slalom, Miller became only the second man, after Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt, to win Olympic medals in four disciplines.
Miller, the two-time World Cup overall champion, is still looking for his first Olympic gold. He will have another chance when the Alpine competition resumes tomorrow with the super combined.
Whether Miller wins an elusive gold here, he has already succeeded in changing his Olympic legacy after a disastrous showing at the 2006 Turin Games. A favorite in multiple events, Miller left Turin empty-handed and was roundly criticized for his poor attitude and late-night partying.
“I had almost no ownership over my results or my situation at that time because too many people had said that, ‘Oh, he’s going to win these medals, and this is the way he skis and this is who he is and this is how he acts,’ ’’ said Miller. “And when everyone says that about you for that long, you don’t feel like you have ownership of your own actions anymore.’’
When asked why he’s medaling here, Miller said, “Most likely because that is what I decided I wanted to do.’’
With Miller and Weibrecht making the latest contributions to the US medal haul in Alpine events, the stars-and-stripes skiers have collected six medals on the Whistler slopes, breaking the previous mark of five at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics.
“Part of it might be that we are on North American soil, and get better results when we’re at home, or close to home, better food and lodgings,’’ said Weibrecht. “The Europeans have it in Europe and they seem to capitalize on it over there.’’
With the home continent advantage, Weibrecht had the run of his life.
“To be able to stand on the podium with two of the best skiers of our generation was exciting and something I’ll remember and cherish,’’ he said. “Being in the same competition as them in any race is incredible. To do it at the Olympics is just a dream come true.’’
Miller gave Weibrecht some advice before the super-G.
“He goes really hard,’’ Miller said. “He’s a phenomenal skier, but he goes too hard a lot of the time, too hard for what the general populous would say he should do.
“When he hears me go back and reflect on the 150 or 200 World Cups I have crashed or blown leads on and look back on that with nothing but fondness and appreciation, I think it gives him some insight to the good side of racing with your heart and racing 100 percent.’’
Miller’s heart led him back to the Olympics. And he has his own measure of his performances.
“My favorite moment is not the press conference,’’ said Miller. “It’s not the awards ceremony. It’s just before I come across the finish line and I’m forced to make an assessment of how I am and who I am and what I’ve done.’’
Still, a pair of medals and the prospect of completing the set with gold doesn’t hurt.
Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.