KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- I took the 90-minute trip up the hill to the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center on Sunday morning, expecting to see Bode Miller make history. Instead, he made excuses.
Miller, looking to become the oldest man to win an Olympic alpine event, finished eighth in the downhill. He crossed in 2:06.75, more than half a second slower than the 2:06.09 he recorded Saturday in his second practice session. Austria's Matthias Mayer won the gold in 2:06.23. Christof Innerhofer of Italy took silver and Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal, the favorite coming into the Olympics, settled for bronze.
As usual, Miller began fast. Starting in the 15th position, he covered the first interval in 25.44, putting him well ahead of the leading pace. He was still flying at the second interval. But he lost a lot of ground in the middle of the course and was well off medal pace heading into the final stretch.
Miller leaned forward, his head in his hands, after seeing his time posted. He slumped down and sat on the snow in evident disappointment.
"This can be a tough one to swallow," Miller said, "having skied so well in the training runs and come in and be way out of the medals. But I think I skied really well, honestly. I was super aggressive. The conditions didn't favor me today, but all things considered, I skied really well."
Miller said the middle of the course slowed considerably by the time he raced. Mayer said later that he thought the first 10 or so competitors had a slight advantage. Miller said the visibility was a problem. He had thrived in sunny conditions in practice, but it was cloudy on Sunday and he said it was difficult for him to see the snow as he sped down the hill.
"I would have loved to win, obviously," he said. "This is the premier event and something I thought about quite a bit. When it's out of your control, that kind of takes the disappointment away more or less. I mean, I don't think I would change much. I think I skied well enough to win, but it just doesn't happen sometimes."