Bode Miller Fastest on First Downhill Practice at Olympics

Bode Miller got off to a good start at his fifth Winter Olympics, racing to the fastest time today on the first training run for the men’s downhill.

Miller, 36, who has a U.S.-record five Alpine skiing medals, completed the 3.5-kilometer (2.17-mile) course in two minutes, 07.75 seconds.

“I did not push too hard, but on the turns I gave everything I got,” he said after edging Switzerland’s Patrick Kueng by three-hundredths of a second.

Matthias Mayer of Austria was third fastest, and Marco Sullivan of the U.S. was fourth. The downhill race is scheduled for Feb. 9.

“Bode is one the favorites,” said Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who tied for eighth on the training run.

Miller is set to become the sixth American to compete in five Winter Games. He will defend his Olympic title in the super combined and plans to race in at least three of the four other Alpine events.

A medal 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.

Miller said the course has been changed since the last time the skiers were in Sochi two years ago, a race that left some of the men complaining about injuries. The changes have made for a challenging event, he said.

“The consequence of making mistakes out there are really high, which is what downhill is about,” Miller said at a news conference. “You’ve got to mix in the risks to make up time. The hill is the toughest we’ve seen this year. It’s exciting when you have a chance to test yourself for an Olympic medal on a hill that really tests an Alpine ski racer.”

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