It has been a long-time coming, but Bode Miller is finally an Olympic champion. Eight years after his debut Games and four years after his dramatic failure in Turin, the colourful American swept to gold in the super-combined on Whistler last night.
The 32-year-old from New Hampshire was back in seventh after the downhill stage but rallied superbly in the slalom, his favourite event, to claim his third medal of the Games. He already has a a silver and bronze from the super-G and downhill. "My legs started feeling really wobbly," he said of the closing stages of the slalom. "The way I executed, the way I skied, is something I'll be proud of the rest of my life."
If Lindsey Vonn is America's darling then Miller is its lose cannon. He was a strong favourite to win at least one gold in 2006 but came away without a medal amid reports of him overdoing the apres-ski. He has had run ins with the US team in the past, walking out in 2007 and when he went winless in 2009 it seemed as if he had reached the end of the road. This year he made his peace with the national squad, but injury has limited his season and his fitness was a concern coming into the Games.
"I felt awesome about it," he said of finally breaking his duck (he won a pair of silvers at Salt Lake City in 2002). "But still, it's incredibly emotionally exhausting to do it like that. I've got one leg that's injured and another leg that's on my boat already."
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway led after the downhill but did not complete his slalom leg to give Miller, who bounced daringly through the second part of the slalom, his break. Showman to the last, as he crossed the line he stuck his tongue out at the crowd and grinned happily.
Ivica Kostelic of Crotia claimed the silver medal, 0.33 seconds behind, while Switzerland's Silvan Zurbriggen took the bronze 0.40 seconds adrift.