American Bode Miller, attempting to be the oldest man to medal in an Olympic Alpine event, finished first in this morning’s downhill ski training, the last before tomorrow’s race.
Miller, who finished sixth in yesterday’s practice, took the first place in the opening session on Feb. 6. This morning the 36-year-old got down the course in two minutes, 6.09 seconds, 0.66 seconds faster than Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, who took silver in the event in the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Yesterday, Miller said he would probably ease up to rest his repaired left knee, which was sore after the first two practices.
“If you are not totally focused this course can kill you,” Miller said to journalists. “It is one of those courses where I don’t think you are safe going easy. It is so damn fast and the snow is so hard that you don’t want to sacrifice edge pressure and grip on the snow for aerodynamics.”
Miller has a U.S.-record five Alpine skiing medals. Another in Sochi would make Miller the oldest man to stand on the Olympic podium in an Alpine event. Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway now holds that mark, having won the super-giant slalom at the 2006 Games at the age of 34.
Svindal said the course’s bumpy nature made it difficult to control skis, especially when coming down from a jump. Miller, who finished third in Vancouver, is the athlete to beat, the 31-year-old said.
Miller, who averaged 114.8 kilometers (71 miles) an hour on the first half of the run, jumped to 132.59 kph over the second portion. Svindal maxed out at 131.84 kph.
“I think I will have to beat Bode Miller,” Svindal told reporters. “He is really fast and skis really well. What he is doing is really impressive, especially on the second half of the course.”
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