Miller raises the bar – rest of field point to him as the man to beat!


Bode Miller won the third training run in emphatic fashion and has the rest of the field looking at his run to see where they can pull back time. Miller did not just win the final training run … before the blue ribband event of the Winter Olympics Alpine events, he destroyed the rest of the field. Aksel Lund Svindal was next best and he was over six tenths back on the American with Peter Fill taking third fastest time.

With all the selections made for the teams that had up to six on the training runs, Miller had thought of taking it easy but after two of the first three racers had crashed, he decided that the conditions warranted him giving the course his utmost respect. Miller enjoys his racing on the Rosa Khutor track: Through “The whole middle section you can see the glare from the ice reflection but it’s a pleasure for me to ski on this track. I would be angry with myself if I had wasted this opportunity to properly run on this track,” explained the American after his run.

If Miller is the main contender, Aksel Lund Svindal is the main in form and the Downhill maestro on the World Cup. These two finished one and two in the last training run yet Miller is renown for raising his game on the days that he wants to win the big races, he is a big race skier and the races do not come bigger than the Olympic Games.At 36 years old, Miller knows that these will probably be his last shot at the big one and he wants this. Svindal knows that if he is to add to his impressive tally of medals at major Games, then he will have to beat Miller. Miller goes 15 in the race and Svindal 18.

The last training run saw two large crashes, Brice Roger crashed and had his season curtailed as he announced after seeing the French doctors that he had broken his ACL and that his season was now over. Guillermo Fayed will now take his place in the French team for Sunday’s race. Rok Perko was able to ski away after a brief inspection by the medics on the scene.

Concerns were raised by some observers about the amount of time it took medical assistants to reach the Slovenian, Rok Perko after his crash. “After today’s downhill training, there was a meeting with the organising committee and medical services to fine tune the communication between all parties so all personnel are prepared to act as soon as the course is clear if a skier needs medical assistance,” Guenter Hujara said after the training. “Ample medical coverage is present at all of the races here in Sochi, ensuring the safety and health of all competitors. In the downhill, there are eight areas where a total of 16 doctors are on standby. During today’s training, the medical service, the rescue service and the helicopter were all in place and ready to provide assistance.”

Sunday is race day and the shoot out for the Gold will be electrifying. It may seem to be Miller versus Svindal but the Olympics have a nasty habit of throwing up surprises: Few bet on Didier Defago winning in Whistler and four year prior to that Michael Walchhofer had the gold snatched away from him by Antoine Deneriaz as he was in the finish almost accepting the plaudits.

Fifty racers will go to the start in the race, sadly no Brits but that is another story. Experience of dealing with the conditions, mentally, physically and emotionally is not something you can learn apart from beating at the races. In four years time hopefully the likes of Dougie Crawford, TJ Baldwin and Jack Gower will be lining up to battle it out.

While 19 racers did not try the last training run, some were on the start list for the experience heading to the Super Combined, others had decided to rest before the big race. What ever the reasons, Sunday will see all guns blazing. Make sure you are near a television to watch. It is a great course and is not for the feint hearted.

You may ask whether the training run times are a guide to race day performance and certainly on the World Cup it is not the case yet look back over the course of Olympic history and you will see a distinct correlation between those fast in training and who stands on the podium come race day. It is not a given but if you know how to go fast on the relatively new course, you can go very fast.

Who do we tip? Miller, Svindal, Mayer, Fill and then watch out for the likes Carlo Janka, Christoph Innerhofer, Dominik Paris.

Worrying for the rest of the field, Miller believes that he can go even faster!

Full training runs times from the final training run


Picture copyright ZOOM AGENCE