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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vancouver 2010: Bode Miller Comeback

Vancouver 2010 Latest News: Bode Miller became the face of the U.S. Olympic Team in Vancouver Sunday with a comeback performance in the men's Super Combined that will be replayed in Olympic highlights for years to come.

Beginning the slalom portion of the competition, Mr. Miller was .76 seconds behind leader Aksel Svindal of Norway. A winner of two medals already, Mr. Miller needed to leapfrog some of the best slalom specialists in the world. During his run, he bobbed and weaved his way through the gates like a dancer before a final triumphant lunge through at the finish line that gave him a .33 second lead with just a handful of skiers left at the top of the hill.

As the crowd of more than 6,000 screamed for him, Mr. Miller waved his poles and basked in adoration that no one would have expected four years ago after the Turin Games. Then he was the angry, bad-boy of Team U.S.A., who criticized Olympic commercialism and boasted of his partying before races.

Minutes later, though, Norway's Mr. Svindal crashed in the final portion of his run, and Mr. Miller had his first Olympic gold medal, his third of the Games and his fifth overall, cementing his reputation as the greatest American skier ever.

"My legs were burning," Mr. Miller said after the race. "I was getting a little wobbly coming down toward the end. I couldn't even see the poles." Stepping for the first time to the top of the podium during the flower ceremony, Mr. Miller raised his arms in triumph and kept them up there for a good long time as the screams of the crowd bounced off the snow-covered hillsides and American flags swayed in the wind.

"Bode has done everything you could possibly do in skiing," said Will Brandenburg, an up-and-coming skier on Team U.S.A., who finished 10th Sunday. "He's won World Cups, he's won the overall, he's won Olympic medals and now he's won a gold medal."

Ivica Kostelic of Croatia won the silver while Switzerland's Silvan Zurbriggen, a favorite heading into the final round because of his prowess as a slalom skier, took the bronze. "We're witnessing a great moment," Mr. Kostelic said of Mr. Miller. "This is a skier at the end of his career. There's no pressure on him. He just recognizes what his goal is. I am really happy for him."

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