Beaver Creek, Colo. • Four races into his comeback, Bode Miller has yet to enjoy the kind of top results he had become accustomed to before knee surgery and more than a year away from ski racing.
World Cup downhill
O At Beaver Creek, Colo.
Gold » Aksel Lund Svindal, Norway, 1:44.50
Silver » Hannes Reichelt, Austria, 1:44.67
Bronze » Peter Fill, Italy, 1:44.70
But the five-time Olympic medalist who always has valued effort and daring over results at least felt as if he skied the way he wants to in a World Cup downhill at Beaver Creek on Friday, even though he finished only 13th in numbing sub-zero temperatures on a gray, gloomy day.
"Even though it’s not a great result, I’m happy with it," said Miller, who has won the downhill here three times. "I skied the way I needed to ski. We just ... maybe we picked the wrong skis. Maybe it was weather or nature, but I think that’s where we lost it today."
Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal won the race in 1 minute, 44.50 seconds, or 1.04 seconds ahead of Miller, the top American at the only World Cup stop of the season in the United States.
Triple world champion Ted Ligety of Park City finished 42nd in a rare downhill start — he will be a favorite in the super-G on Saturday and giant slalom Sunday — and felt he would have fared better had the snow held off just a little longer.
"I felt like I skied OK," he said. "I just got totally hosed by it starting to snow five guys before I went. It slowed down a ton."
Just about everybody had something to complain about, from the bitter, biting cold — it was minus-7 at the start — to the flat light conditions and the soft snow that began to fall about halfway through the race.
The course itself was a little tricky, too.
It was a combination of the usual men’s "Birds of Prey" course and the new "Raptor" course used for a women’s World Cup stop last weekend, and athletes only had one training run because bad weather forced the cancellation of two others.
"I liked the old course, just because it flowed better," said Steven Nyman, the Provo native and two-time Olympian who finished 21st. "The top of the new course flows really well, but trying to link it into the old course, it’s tough right through there."
Miller managed it better than any of his teammates just days before he’s expected to travel to New York for a court hearing in his controversial legal dispute with a former girlfriend over custody of their 9-month-old son. His wife and 4-year-old daughter watched from the finish area Friday, captured several times by television cameras.
What they saw was America’s most successful male ski racer — five Olympic medals, four world championships, 33 World Cup victories and two overall World Cup titles — inching closer to what he hopes will be top form for the 2014 Sochi Olympics in two months.
Miller was 19th in the season-opening giant slalom in Austria and 16th and 23rd in the first downhill and super-G, respectively, last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.
Before that, he had not raced since having microfracture knee surgery in the spring of 2012 and had spent much of his time on other pursuits, including his marriage to model and pro volleyball player Morgan Beck last year.
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