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February 25, 2006
SESTRIERE, Italy (AP Press Release)—American Bode Miller ended his disappointing Olympics by straddling a gate near the beginning of his men’s slalom run Saturday. He wasn’t alone, though, as Italian gold-medal hopeful Giorgio Rocca and American teammate Ted Ligety also were casualties of the first run.
Miller was only about 15 seconds into the first of what would have been two runs when a gate split his skis and he moved to the side of the course and stopped.
Rocca, who was expected to be the hometown hero in Alpine skiing at these Olympics, was the very first skier of the day, but he crashed after the first few gates, stunning Italian fans who had gathered to watch him compete in his only event of the Turin Olympics.
“It’s a pity, it’s a pity, Rocca told Italian state TV. “I was going down well, in that point I wanted to gain speed. And instead …
Miller, in his final chance to win a Turin Olympics medal, appeared uncomfortable on the first few gates and skied off the course less than halfway down. The controversial Miller won two silvers at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and was considered a medal contender in all five disciplines in Turin, but he was shut out at these games.
Ligety, the surprise American winner of the combined event last week, was disqualified for straddling a gate.
Benjamin Raich of Austria, who won the giant slalom earlier this week, had the fastest time of 53.37 seconds on the first run. A hundredth of a second behind was Kalle Palander of Finland. Third was Kentaro Minagawa of Japan in 53.44.
The second run is set for 12:30 p.m. EST.
The defending champion in the slalom, Jean-Pierre Vidal of France, withdrew after breaking his left arm while skiing for pleasure on Friday, his 29th birthday.
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press