February 12, 2006
SESTRIERE, Italy (USST Release)—The men's alpiners opened their Olympic events Sunday with the Men's Downhill and Bode Miller (Bretton Woods, NH) posted the top U.S. finish as he grabbed fifth. Antoine Deneriaz of France smoked the course and the field to win the gold medal.
Deneriaz' winning time of 1:48.80 was .72 ahead of silver medalist Michael Walchofer of Austria, who skied the run in 1:49.52. Switzerland's Bruno Kernen took the bronze in 1:49.82.
Miller recorded a time of 1:49.93 on the Kandahar Banchetta course in Sestriere Borgata. Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) was 10th (1:50.33), Scott Macartney (Redmond, WA) was 15th (1:50.68) and Steven Nyman (Orem, UT) placed 19th (1:50.88).
Miller aced the top sections of the course and was in second place after the third of five split times. He lost his speed on the bottom.
"I attacked the top full gas, I was absolutely 100% up there," said Miller. "In the middle sections with the terrain I was balanced and made the right moves. There were a couple spots where I got bumped up a little bit off balance in the air and two turns where I couldn't find a clear edge and that's the difference of being fifth and beging second. But it would have taken a hurricane wind to get me into first, the way Deneriaz skied, he was pretty much untouchable."
"I lost my grip in the last three turns and that's where I really lost speed," said Miller. "I got rotated out of the Daytona turn (before the final pitch) and just couldn't find an aerodynamic position. The speeds are so high at the bottom that if you're not in a good aerodynamic position you're losing time. Guys are making time on bottom, like Walchhofer, and I lost four-tenths."
Overall, the U.S. skiers felt they competed well technically, but just couldn't find the speed.
Rahlves, who recorded the fastest time by 1.21 seconds in Thursday's first training run, had some small problems at the top of the hill today.
"It was a little punishing on the top and it slowed me down a bit," said Rahlves. "But yesterday I made a much worse turn, so I thought, 'OK, I've still had some good speed, I was ahead of it, and skiing pretty clean'. Then, off that last jump, that was kind of a sweet feeling to hit that, then I get across the line and was really surprised to see where I was at."
"I went out there and did what I could," said Rahlves. "I did everything possible. I felt good about it. It was a good day to ski. I dont know where the speed was today."
A total of 8,555 ticketed spectators were in attendance for the downhill, the first Alpine Skiing medal event of the Games.
"We had two of the best guys in the race but came up a little short," said U.S. coach Phil McNichol. "Just as shocking as our results were, so were the French, and I'm very happy for Tony (Antoine) and the French coaches."
XX OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES
Sestriere, ITA - Feb. 12, 2006
1. Antoine Deneriaz, France, 1:48.80
2. Michael Walchhofer, Austria, 1:49.52
3. Bruno Kernen, Switzerland, 1:49.82
4. Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway, 1:49.88
5. Bode Miller, Bretton Woods, N.H., 1:49.93
10. Daron Rahlves, Sugar Bowl, Calif., 1:50.33
15. Scott Macartney, Redmond, Wash., 1:50.68
T19. Steven Nyman, Orem, Utah, 1:50.88
For complete results:http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=AL&raceid=39585