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It's official: Bronze for Bode

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  February 15, 2010 03:38 PM

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3:38 p.m. One race into the Vancouver Games, and Bode Miller has already surpassed his output from Turin four years ago.

Miller won the third Olympic medal of his career this afternoon -- and the first since he claimed a pair of silvers at the '02 Games in Salt Lake City -- by hanging on to win the bronze today in the men's downhill at Whistler Mountain.

Miller, eighth of 64 racers out of the gate, took an early lead with a run of 1 minute, 54.40 seconds. He was bumped to second by just .02 by Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, the defending World Cup overall champion who ended up with the silver.

The gold went to Switzerland's Didier Defago, who surpassed Svindal and Miller as the 18th racer down the hill with a time of 1:54.31. There were no changes among the top three during the final 46 competitors.

Defago, 32, is the first Swiss skier to win gold in the men's downhill since Pirmin Zurbriggen at the 1988 Calgary Games.

Miller’s medal is the first for the US in the men's downhill since Tommy Moe won gold in 1994.

3:15 p.m. A few quotes from Miller from an interview a couple of moments ago with CTV as he waited for other skiers to finish:

  • He said he was "super-nervous all morning," but that he can't get too excited because "at my age, I'd give myself a heart attack."

  • He applauded the crowd at Whistler. "This is a unique opportunity to feed off the crowd's energy. Hopefully, I keep making less and less mistakes and end up on the top of the podium.”

  • On his races to come: “I know I’m going to be fired up.”

    3:08 p.m. Forty-two down, 22 to go. For fear of a jinx we don't want to suggest Bode's in a pretty good spot, but . . .

    2:56 p.m. With German Stephan Keppler the 32d racer down the mountain, we're now at the halfway point.

    2:53 p.m. Marco Sullivan, starting from the 27th spot, is the fourth and final United States entrant. Andrew Weinbrecht started fourth and Stephen Nyman sixth. Sullivan lost control near the bottom of his run -- it appeared to begin when he was airborne -- and crashed into a gate, but he walked away unscathed.

    2:51 p.m. It is considered a surprise that Defago and not Cuche is the Swiss skier in medal contention. They were expecting a different Didier.

    2:43 p.m. Much has been made of Miller's improved attitute regarding his perception of the Olympics -- his attitude of nonchalance and/or indifference in Turin has not made the trip to Vancouver.

    I meant to note earlier that further evidence that these Games matter to him could be found in his reaction -- looking skyward with a smile, his hands clasped -- after completing his run. Cool to see.

    2:33 p.m. It should be said that Miller still has a decent chance of medaling here.

    Most of the top racers -- including World Cup downhill leader Didier Cuche of Switzerland and Canadian Robbie Dixon (who crashed and didn't not appear injured) have completed their runs. They were the 22d and 23d skiers to leave the gate, respectively.

    2:19 p.m. And now it's bronze or bust for Bode

    Swiss racer Didier Defago grabbed the lead from Svindal just two racers after the Norwegian had take the top spot, bumping Miller to third with a time of 1:54.31.

    2:09 p.m.: Well, that didn't last long.

    Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, the 16th racer down the mountain, just took over the top spot to edge Miller by .02 with a time of 1:54.38

    Svindal appeared to overtake Miller's time near the end his run. He appeared to ski flawlessly after being slightly off the pace for the first quarter.

    1:50 p.m. PST: It was an early start for Bode Miller in the men's downhill this morning -- he was the eighth of what will be 64 competitors to navigate down the Whistler Creekside mountain course.

    It was also a fast start for the Franconia, N.H. native -- he took over the lead from France's David Poisson with a run of 1:54.40.

    The downhill is the first of five events Miller will ski during these Games. His bid for redemption after failing to medal in Turin, Italy in 1996 is among the more compelling storylines here in Vancouver.

    Miller is the most decorated US Alpine skier ever, with 32 World Cup victories, but he owns just a pair of silver medals from his four Olympic appearances, both won in Salt Lake City in 2002.

    The race is finally taking place after being postponed over the weekend. The temparatures on the mountain are in the upper 20s, the hard, fast conditions should benefit the skiers.

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