Sunny
72°
Sunny
Hi 76° | Lo 49°

Bode Miller leads downhill training; women delayed

  • United States' Bode Miller starts in a men's downhill training run for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

    United States' Bode Miller starts in a men's downhill training run for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

  • Evgeny Plyushchenko of Russia waves to spectators after competing in the men's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

    Evgeny Plyushchenko of Russia waves to spectators after competing in the men's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • United States' Bode Miller smiles during a US ski team press conference at the Gorki media centre at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    United States' Bode Miller smiles during a US ski team press conference at the Gorki media centre at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • United States' Hannah Kearney jumps during qualifying in the women's moguls at the Rosa Kutor Exreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    United States' Hannah Kearney jumps during qualifying in the women's moguls at the Rosa Kutor Exreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • United States' Heidi Kloser is stretchered off the course after crashing in a warm up run before qualifying in the women's moguls at the Rosa Kutor Exreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    United States' Heidi Kloser is stretchered off the course after crashing in a warm up run before qualifying in the women's moguls at the Rosa Kutor Exreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

  • United States' Bode Miller smiles during a US ski team press conference at the Gorki media centre at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    United States' Bode Miller smiles during a US ski team press conference at the Gorki media centre at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • First-place finisher Hannah Kearney, of the United States, center, celebrates on the podium following the women's Freestyle World Cup moguls event Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

    First-place finisher Hannah Kearney, of the United States, center, celebrates on the podium following the women's Freestyle World Cup moguls event Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

  • United States' Bode Miller starts in a men's downhill training run for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)
  • Evgeny Plyushchenko of Russia waves to spectators after competing in the men's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
  • United States' Bode Miller smiles during a US ski team press conference at the Gorki media centre at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
  • United States' Hannah Kearney jumps during qualifying in the women's moguls at the Rosa Kutor Exreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • United States' Heidi Kloser is stretchered off the course after crashing in a warm up run before qualifying in the women's moguls at the Rosa Kutor Exreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
  • United States' Bode Miller smiles during a US ski team press conference at the Gorki media centre at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
  • First-place finisher Hannah Kearney, of the United States, center, celebrates on the podium following the women's Freestyle World Cup moguls event Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Bode Miller is at his fifth Olympics and already owns a U.S.-record five Alpine medals, so in many ways he certainly already has, as he put it yesterday, “been here and done this.”

While Miller’s past accomplishments, plus propensity for saying whatever is on his mind, might have made him an athlete to keep an eye on during the Sochi Games anyway, his skiing still can grab headlines. Miller delivered the fastest opening downhill training run ahead of Sunday’s race, finishing in 2 minutes, 7.75 seconds yesterday.

“He’s been fast this whole season, but especially these last three weeks,” said Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who tied for eighth in yesterday’s training and, like Miller, won a medal of each color at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. “And this is also a course that should be good for him. So I’m not surprised.”

The women’s downhill training was interrupted for about an hour while the lip of a dangerous jump was flattened by machines. Only three racers went down the hill before the delay, and one got hurt. Anna Fenninger of Austria turned in the best time, 1:41.73, followed by Fraenzi Aufdenblatten of Switzerland and Julia Mancuso of the U.S. (Defending champion Lindsey Vonn is sidelined after right knee surgery.)

Mancuso is the sort of athlete who says the sorts of things the folks who run the Olympics might like – and perhaps expect – to hear about participating.

“I just still really get excited,” she said. “My Olympic experience is really exciting, and I just get fueled by the energy, and it doesn’t matter if it’s my first time or my fourth time.”

And then there’s Miller.

“Not to take anything away from the Olympics,” he said, a pair of sunglasses perched atop the “USA” blue wool cap on his head, “but it just isn’t the same after I’ve done it as many times as I have.”

He made his debut at the 1998 Nagano Games, won a pair of silvers four years later in Salt Lake City, boasted about his late-night partying while failing to even finish three of five events in Turin in 2006, then left Vancouver in 2010 with a gold in super combined, silver in super-G and bronze in downhill.

Miller’s also a two-time overall World Cup champion, a man who has started 430 races on the circuit, earning 33 wins and another 45 top-three finishes.

All of which means he’s very talented at what he does – a good thing, naturally – and has plenty of experience – not necessarily good, in Miller’s view.

Let him explain.

“It can be a hindrance to be in your fifth Olympics, with 400-something World Cups behind you. I do get less nervous, I do get less excited. I’m much more focused, and I’m hoping that kind of trade-off works in my favor,” Miller said. “But I definitely can see, from my perspective now, some of my competitors, in a way, have an advantage over me.”

Teammate Marco Sullivan was asked how Miller has changed, not only as a ski racer but as a person.

The query drew a hearty laugh.

“The relationship between Bode and I and all the guys is pretty much on the ski hill,” Sullivan said. “I can say the way Bode skis is really similar to when I first saw him ski. ... He skis hard, skis technically amazingly well, and he’s fast, and he wants to win. Super-competitive. And I don’t know – he’s Bode.”

Two years ago, Miller injured his left knee during a Sochi Olympic test run on the same course used yesterday. He wound up needing surgery, then sat out all of last season.

He’s in much better shape than he was for Vancouver, he says, and has trimmed about 20 pounds from his frame. He finished second in a World Cup giant slalom in Beaver Creek in December, then had a pair of top-three finishes in Kitzbuehel, Austria, last month.

Miller himself will say he does not glide as well as many other racers, but he can find other places to make up time.

“I have areas where I can beat them, where I’m sneakier,” Miller said, “where I can look at (the) line and know that I can do something that maybe hasn’t been done before.”

The first three starters in the women’s run soared too high off the jump down the home stretch. Daniela Merighetti of Italy hurt both knees during her too-hard landing. They were among those complaining that the forerunners who went down the slope to check on the course weren’t going fast enough to really test whether that jump would be too difficult for the competitors.

“The problem is,” said Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein, who was fourth, “we don’t have really good test runners and forerunners.”

Moguls qualifying

Hannah Kearney’s bid for another Olympic gold medal in women’s moguls is off to a flawless start.

The defending champion cruised through qualifying, posting a score of 23.05, well clear of Canada’s Chloe Dufour-Lapointe for the top spot.

Justine Dufour-Lapointe took third and Maxime Dufour-Lapointe finished eighth, assuring all three sisters a spot in the finals.

The top 10 finishers automatically advanced to the finals, with the remaining competitors returning for a second qualifying run tomorrow to fill out the rest of the field.

Eliza Outrim finished fourth to move on to the finals but her U.S. teammate Heidi Kloser did not compete after sustaining a leg injury in warm-ups. Kloser will be re-evaluated and could return to competition tomorrow.

Slopestyle qualifying

Canadian Max Parrot cruised through men’s slopestyle qualifying, posting a score of 97.50 to stamp himself as a gold medal favorite as the sport makes its Olympic debut.

Parrot, Roope Tonteri of Finland and Norway’s Staale Sandbech led a group of eight riders who advanced directly to tomorrow’s finals.

The remaining 21 competitors will return to the challenging course for tomorrow morning’s semifinals trying to claim one of the last four spots in the finals.

The competition went off without any major issues or injuries. Several riders raised concerns about the course’s safety during training, including American Shaun White.

White pulled out of the event on Wednesday worried about endangering his chance of winning a third straight gold medal in halfpipe.

Team figure skating

Thrilling their countrymen on the first day of competition at the Sochi Olympics, Russia took the lead after the pairs and men’s short programs in the new event of team figure skating.

Three-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko finished second to Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu in the men’s portion, then world champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov convincingly won the pairs.

The combined 19 points – 10 for first place, nine for second – lifted the hosts ahead of Canada, which earned nine points in pairs from Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, and eight in men’s from three-time world champion Patrick Chan.

The team competition continues tomorrow with ice dance, the women’s short program and the pairs free skate. It concludes Sunday with the other three long programs.

Hockey

Canada’s hockey team picked a healthy Tampa Bay Lightning forward to replace an injured one. Hockey Canada announced yesterday that Martin St. Louis is on the roster for the Sochi games to replace Steven Stamkos.

Doctors ruled out Stamkos on Wednesday because he hasn’t recovered sufficiently from a broken right leg.

Stamkos has been practicing and hoped to play for the Lightning tomorrow night against Detroit in their final game before the Olympic break. He had 14 goals and nine assists in 17 games this season.

Steve Yzerman, the Canadians’ executive director and Tampa Bay’s general manager, chose St. Louis over Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux and Pittsburgh’s James Neal.

St. Louis had 54 points in 56 games entering last night’s game against Toronto.

Related

U.S. goalie Miller eager to reprise Olympic MVP role

Friday, February 7, 2014

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Ryan Miller’s freshly designed red, white and blue goalie mask – with Uncle Sam on one side and a soaring bald eagle on the other – has arrived. The flights have long been booked for himself, his wife and father. And Miller has already arranged for his mother and sister to take care of the family dog … 0

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.