Silver is routine for MillerPosted: Wednesday February 13, 2002 8:58 PM
10:20 a.m.: Feels some nasty winds rocking the start house at the top of the downhill portion of the Olympic Alpine combined (one run downhill, two runs slalom). Scary stuff. Rips into the course on long downhill boards. Comes out of a sidehill, right-hand turn in Offtrack Canyon, loses his edge on Slinghost, a left-hand turn that follows, and goes down on his left hip at 60 miles an hour. Somehow rescues himself and finishes the run. Could have been hurt badly. Surely should not have made it to the bottom of the run. "I definitely wouldn't have been able to pull it off if I didn't think I was going to die," Bode says. He finishes in 15th place, 2.44 seconds behind leader Kjetil-Andre Aamodt. Even though Bode is the best slalom skier in the world, it's a huge gap. No big deal. He's happy to be breathing.
1:15 p.m.: First slalom run. Bode tears into the upper gates, but when he drops onto the face of the Wildflower course, the speed surprises him. He tries to dump velocity and get sideways. Struggling. Tries to make up for it. Struggles some more. He finishes in fifth place overall, but he's still .76 out of the medals and that same, hopeless 2.44 seconds behind Aamodt. Forget it, right? U.S. teammate Casey Puckett says after the race, "Bode's .76 out of the medals, right? Noooo problem."
3:15 p.m.: Second slalom run. One for the ages. Vintage Bode. Every ski racer on the World Cup circuit knows that Bode skis faster than all of them. When he stays upright and clean -- if he stays upright and clean -- he's unbeatable. Today, he stays upright and clean. He drills the second slalom run in 49.73 seconds. Nobody in the field comes within a second of him. "He dropped the hammer, and when Bode drops the hammer, he's toooooo fast," says Austria's Kilian Albrecht, who finishes eighth.
3:16 p.m.: Austria's Rainer Schoenfelder, who crushed the field on the first slalom run and leads Bode by .75, comes down more than a second behind. Bode beats him on the second slalom by 1.58 seconds. Ridiculous. "That's Bode," says Schoenfelder. "When Bode comes down with a great, great run, anything is possible. This was very fast. Too fast." Bode is still in first.
3:17 p.m.: Another Austrian, Benjamin Raich, loses the second run by 1.18 seconds. Absurd. Bode has a bronze medal in the bag, the first U.S. men's Alpine medal since Tommy Moe in 1994.
3:18 p.m.: The medal turns to silver. Norwegian Lasse Kjus skis a slow 53.11. Crowd goes nuts. Bode laughs.
3:19 p.m.: Aamodt plans to ski carefully. "I thought that 2.44 seconds should be enough," he says later. It is, barely. Aamodt holds off Bode by .28 seconds. It is Aamodt's Olympic-record sixth Alpine medal. Bode shakes Aamodt's hand and pats him on the back.
4:30 p.m.: Bode explains: "The Olympics are different for each person. Medals are nice. For me, the feeling I had after I skied that first run was better than any medal."
4:45 p.m.: Aamodt explains: "When he puts it together, he's amazing. I've never seen anybody ski so fast. He doesn't think about consequences. I think too much about consequences. He's good for skiing."
4:46 p.m.: New sheriff in town. Bode Miller, age 24. On with Jay Leno Thursday night. Off to Sun Valley to train. Giant slalom and slalom next week. Get used to the name.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Tim Layden is in Utah covering the Olympic Alpine skiing competition for the magazine and CNNSI.com. Check back regularly for more behind-the-scenes reports from Salt Lake City.