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Bode Miller gets long-sought Olympic gold medal

Bode Miller, center, is cheered by Croatian silver medalist Ivica Kostelic, left, and Swiss bronze medalist Silvan Zurbriggen.

Associated Press

Bode Miller, center, is cheered by Croatian silver medalist Ivica Kostelic, left, and Swiss bronze medalist Silvan Zurbriggen.

WHISTLER, British Columbia — His resume now lacks for nothing. The argument about who's the greatest ski racer in U.S. history has probably been settled.

Bode Miller finally has his gold medal, coming from behind Sunday to win the super-combined on Whistler Mountain. But for all the chokes, near misses and criticism he has endured on his way to this moment, he won't cherish the medal as much as you might think.

"If I had won it in a way I wasn't proud of (Sunday), I probably would have resented the medal," Miller said.

As Miller has said throughout a 13-year career that has seen him win more World Cup races (32), world championships (four) and Olympic medals (five) than any other American skier, the quality of his skiing means the most to him.

"The way I skied these last (three) races is what's important," said Miller, who has won a medal of each color at the Vancouver Games, bronze in the downhill and silver in the super-giant slalom. "I would have been proud of that skiing with a medal or not."

During the downhill portion of Sunday's race, Miller flew farther than he expected off a jump, putting him on a line that nearly sent him of course and out of the race. Miller corrected himself but gave up time and finished seventh.

Admittedly exhausted, he followed up with one of his best slalom runs of the season and the third fastest of anybody in the field to take gold. He won in 2 minutes, 44.92 seconds, 0.33 better than Croatia's Ivica Kostelic, whose father and coach had set the slalom course. Silvan Zurbriggen of Switzerland won bronze, 0.40 back.

"The level that I skied at (Sunday) is right at the very, very top," Miller said. "The way I executed, the way I skied, is something I'll be proud of the rest of my life.

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

Miller said he was running on "fumes" after his first two races.

"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.

His gold is the latest medal in the most successful Games in U.S. Ski Team history. The United States has won eight medals, bettering its record of five set in 1984, and has won at least one medal in all six events. Four events remain.

All four Americans finished in the top 11 Sunday, and the team recorded the three best times in the slalom run. Ted Ligety, who won gold in the event in 2006 when it had two slalom runs instead of one, had the fastest slalom run but finished fifth overall.

Bode Miller gets long-sought Olympic gold medal 02/21/10 [Last modified: Sunday, February 21, 2010 11:44pm]
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