PARK CITY, Utah (Feb. 21) — In an Olympic rendering of deja vu, Bode Miller (Franconia, N.H.) staged his second silver medalcomeback of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, skiing from seventh to second place in the men’s giant slalom Thursday. His silveris the first Olympic medal ever won in the event by a U.S. skier, and it makes him the fourth U.S. athlete to ever win two men’sAlpine medals in one Olympic Games.
“This is maybe my biggest accomplishment of my life,” said Miller, who also won silver in the combined. “I skied a great race. WhenI crossed the finish line I knew I couldn’t have skied any better. It didn’t matter where I finished. I didn’t have anything left.”
After the first run, Miller sat in seventh place, 0.17 seconds away from the silver. He made up that stretch and more, skiing thefastest time in the second run to put him in second place behind Stephan Eberharter of Austria. Eberharter had entered thesecond run in a comfortable first, leading the ranks by 0.74 seconds. Miller’s total time from both runs was 0.88 seconds awayfrom Eberharter at 2:24.16.
Winning the bronze was Norway’s Lasse Kjus.
“I was just trying to end up on the podium,” Miller said. “I wanted to ski a hard second run. I would have settled for that because ifyou ski hard, there are sometimes big rewards. I was so close after the first run — outside of Eberharter being seven-tenths ahead — it was so tight in there, that I knew I had to push it or otherwise you move back five spots.”
Miller’s GS medal reaches the U.S. ski team’s magic number of 10, its medal goal for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Two skiingevents remain, the women’s giant slalom on Friday and the men’s slalom on Saturday.
“Bode Miller is a real tough racer with a great future,” Eberharter said. “He’s has a crazy style in skiing, but he’s fast and that’s all that counts.”
Dane Spencer (Boise, Id.) placed 16th in the giant slalom for the U.S., moving up from 21st after his first run. Thomas Vonn(Newburgh, N.Y.) finished in 19th place, another big jump after sitting in 29th at the halfway point.
“It’s amazing,” Vonn said of skiing his first Olympics. “Just being here, I feel like a winner. I feel awesome. I could hear the crowdwhen I was coming down and that was awesome.”
U.S. skier Erik Schlopy fell twice on his first run, putting him in 72nd place, over 12 seconds off of first. He chose not to ski hissecond run in order to rest for the slalom on Saturday.
Between the three of them, giant slalom’s medal winners have nabbed seven medals in the 2002 Games: Miller’s silver in thecombined and giant slalom; Eberharter’s gold in giant slalom, silver in super-G and bronze in downhill; and Kjus’ bronze in giantslalom and silver in downhill.
2002 OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES
February 21, 2002
Men’s Giant Slalom
Park City, Utah
1. Stephan Eberharter, Austria (2:23.28)
2. Bode Miller, Franconia, N.H. (2:24.16)
3. Lasse Kjus, Norway (2:24.32)
16. Dane Spencer, Boise, Id. (2:25.68)
19. Thomas Vonn, Newburgh, N.Y. (2:26.46)
DNS (second run) Erik Schlopy, Park City, Ut.