by Ralph Routon
Bode Miller waited through more than a dozen years and three Winter Olympics as a world-level skier, but the mercurial 32-year-old American from Franconia, N.H., finally won his first Olympic gold medal Sunday afternoon.
After a steady downhill run in the morning, Miller attacked the slalom course and made it to the bottom in a total time of 2:44.92, and none of the favored Europeans could catch him on Whistler Mountain. Slovenia's Ivica Kostelic, rated as the strongest slalom skier in the field, would up 0.33 of a second behind.
It was Miller's third medal of these Winter Games — a perfect set of gold, silver and bronze — tying the most ever won by an Alpine skier for any nation at a single Olympics, and it was the fifth medal of Miller's career. He won two in 2002 at Salt Lake City, but was shut out in 2006 at Torino despite entering those Winter Games as the world's top-rated skier.
Here at Whistler, despite a lackluster World Cup season, Miller has found a level of consistency that he hadn't known in several years.
"I don't know how long we can keep this up," Miller said. "I can't ask for anything more."
Fellow American Ted Ligety, who won the super combined in 2006, had the fastest slalom time but had to settle for fifth overall.
Miller and Ligety have two more chances in the technical events here, Tuesday in the giant slalom and Friday in the slalom.
And the record-smashing U.S. team, which has won at least one medal in each Alpine event at these Winter Games, now has eight total medals in six events. The previous best by a U.S. Alpine team was five medals in 1984 at Sarajevo.