Bode Miller had high hopes after dominating downhill training runs. But like his Utah teammates, Steve Nyman and Marco Sullivan, he left with an experience but no hardware.
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia - The energy at the Rosa Kutor Alpine Center was electric as U.S. ski legend Bode Miller stood at the start of Sunday's downhill race. Regardless of country, they cheered, shook cowbells and screamed for the most successful U.S. men's alpine racer who hoped to medal in the first race of his fifth Olympic Games. When he crossed the line, however, the time on the clock revealed he was several spots out of medal contention, and the crowd fell silent. Miller sank to a squat in the finish area, looking at the ground, his heartbreak evident. "I was disappointed not to have a better result next to my name," said Miller, who finished eighth. "It's one of those days where it's hard to say where the time went because I skied pretty well. I took a lot of risk and I made a couple of small mistakes, but not really mistakes that cost you a lot of time." Austria's Matthias Mayer earned gold skiing the longest Olympic downhill course in the world in 2:06.23, while Italy's Christof Innerhofer earned silver (2:06.29). Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud was the bronze medalist with a time of 2:06.33. Miller already owns more Olympic medals than any other American Alpine skier with five. But in what is likely the 37-year-old's last Olympic appearance, he hoped for a better ending, especially after dominating the training runs on the treacherous course. "I have a lot of races ahead of me, and I knew this could be a tough one to swallow today, having skied so well on the training runs, and then to come in here and be way out of the medal," he said. In the best finish of his young career, American Travis Ganong earned fifth place with a time of 2:06.64. Racing in his first Olympic Games, Ganong said he tried to relax and enjoy the new experience. "I had no idea what I would feel like kicking out of the starting gate today," he said. "I just let myself relax and let my skiing take over. I had a lot of fun and it worked out. ... My run was awesome." The two struggled as well, but were both glad to have the Olympic experience again. Sundance, Utah native Steven Nyman was disappointed not just in his time, but in his inability to do what he knows he can. "I just made too many mistakes," he said, "especially coming onto some of the flat areas. It was horrendous." When someone suggested he'd skied well, he offered another view. "You saw the guys who won just let it go," said the two-time Olympian. "And my willingness to let it go just wasn't there. I skied pretty but not fast. And, uh, I need to let it go, have that confidence and find that again." He finished in 27th place with a time of 2:09.15, while Marco Sullivan of Park City, Utah finished in 2:10.58 for 30th place. "I've been having fun," said Sullivan. "It's just been an amazing trip. It hasn't been the greatest results of all time. But I've thoroughly enjoyed it." Both Sullivan and Nyman expressed disappointment with their performances, but both were grateful for the opportunity to ski in the Olympic Games. "I'm still a little bummed about not having a good run," said Sullivan, "but it's been a fun week, and I'm happy to be here, happy to embrace the Olympics again. ... We train for years for this; to be able to show off in front of the world is awesome." Next up for the men's alpine team is the super combined on Feb. 14, which features defending World Champion Ted Ligety.%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//beacon.deseretconnect.com/beacon.gif%3Fcid%3D144498%26pid%3D46%22%20/%3E