Eight years after capturing his first Olympic medals at Salt Lake City where he finished 2nd in both in combined and in giant slalom, USA’s Bode Miller gained his third medal at Whistler Mountain where he ended in 3rd place in the downhill.
It’s the first US Olympic medal in downhill since the triumph of Tommy Moe at Lillehammer in February 1994.
Switzerland’s top-favorite Didier Cuche came in 6th after having clocked one of the fastest times in the last intermediate checks on the course.
“This is awesome, I’m really happy even though I know I lost too much time at the bottom of the course after skiing so well at the top,” he told the press after his race. “I gave myself the thumb up after my run, I was pleased with my tactic even before seeing my time and finding out that I have been the fastest at that moment,” Miller added. “I have been charging all the time from start to bottom the way I wanted. It was solid skiing today. I was very nervous prior the race but once I opened the gate I executed my plan pretty well especially in the upper part. I was not as clean as I wanted in the final part.”
The four-time World Champion had found the Olympic experience he'd been seeking atop the Dave Murray course at Whistler Creekside. "Everyone was a little bit shocked at how it looked this morning," also said the skier from Franconia who now owns more Olympic medals than any U.S. alpine skier in history. "They injected the first few turns, they injected down the steep pitch and into the Toilet Bowl … there were a lot of changes, and maybe that helped build a little of the anxiety and the excitement, and then everyone starts to get it.”
"It was clear that this was not a World Cup, everyone was feeling something different. It was cool for me. It was sort of what I had been looking for. That was the feeling I've been searching for, and I let it build up. I was real nervous before I went, but excited nervous, not anxiety nervous. I felt great."
Miller raced down from eighth position, fighting flat light through the middle part of the course and hitting a couple of bumps but torched the early times for the top spot through 16 racers. The light was better when Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal nicked Miller by 2/100 of a second for first, and Swiss Didier Defago skied to the gold medal two spots later just 9/100 faster than Miller.
"I think that's great skiing, but that's the way skiing is. Sometimes you get a little bit of bad luck and that makes the difference. It's certainly not a numbers (thing), there's not a whole lot of difference between us."
A humble and pleased Miller wasn't too distraught at missing out on a higher podium spot. "It is what it is," he said. "I could have been fourth today easily. There's guys who have been better than me in some training runs here and who made mistakes or didn't have great luck today. So I was psyched the way I skied."
Miller was 5th in Sestriere, Italy, in 2006, his only other Olympic downhill appearance. "To win a medal for the U.S. in the first event we had a chance to, is great," Miller also explained. "And for my team, it's been a transition for me back onto the team, and I feel like everyone has worked really hard. I think that part is important. I think it was more a medal for everybody else than me particularly, but I'll take it."
With this excellent result under his belt, Bode will be fighting for even more in the coming events, especially in Tuesday’s Super-combined. He showed at Wengen that he has the speed and the determination to also excel in this discipline. No US skier ever clinched an Olympic title in that event re-introduced in the Olympic program in 1988.