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Miller Flops In Final Olympic Run

Bode Miller of the United States stands on the side of the course after skiing out on the first run of the Men's Slalom at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Sestriere Colle, Italy Saturday Feb. 25.
AP
Bode Miller is going home empty handed.

The American skier ended his disappointing Olympics Saturday by failing to complete yet another run, this time in the men's slalom, the final Alpine event of the Turin Games.

Miller had failed to finish 11 of 14 slaloms since December 2004, so it was no shock when he straddled a gate and skied off the course after only 15 seconds. He failed to medal in Turin despite skiing all five Alpine events.

Miller, who has been a local nightlife fixture throughout the games, told The Associated Press he was content with his experience.

"As far as my own personal involvement, I would not change anything. I had an awesome Olympics," Miller said. "My preparation certainly could have been different, but I'm not a guy who looks back."

Earlier Friday, Bill Marolt, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, said he would have "a heart-to-heart" talk with Miller at the end of this season regarding his declining performances.

"I don't believe we should have conversations like this in the media," said Marolt after praising what Miller had done for the sport in past years. "But clearly it will be something we will address at the year's end, and I don't know where that will go right now."

Nine of the top 29 skiers in the competition could not even finish the first run because they either crashed or straddled a gate.

Another disappointment was American Ted Ligety, the surprise gold medal winner in the Olympic combined with two blazing slalom runs. Ligety also was disqualified after crossed a gate with the tip of his left ski early on the course.

"I thought today would be my day to shine," he said, "but it didn't work out that way."

He made it to the bottom in what would have been a medal-contending time but for his disqualification for straddling a gate early on the course.

"Part of it was the snow was slicker than we expected and part of it was Olympic jitters, guys are going for it," Ligety said. "I still have one gold, so I'm not mad."

Hometown favorite Italian Giorgio Rocca, who won five straight World Cup slaloms to open this season and was considered the favorite in the event, was first out of the start hut but also crashed halfway through the run. His skis crossed at a gate and he tumbled to the snow, sliding on his back.

Afterward, he lay in the snow for several moments.

"It's a pity, it's a pity," Rocca told Italian state TV. "I was going down well, in that point I wanted to gain speed. And instead ...

"I know the people wanted the most (from me) and I gave it, at least while I was still in the running," Rocca said. "A pity."

The Italian's failure to complete the first of the two slalom legs was a massive disappointment to the legions of supporters who showed up to cheer for him.

"Giorgio tried to push away from the gates during the race as I suggested to him," said Alberto Tomba, the 1998 Olympic slalom champion. "But unfortunately he was wrong. He made a mistake. It shouldn't have happened."

Dozens of supporters climbed atop nearby snowdrifts to watch Rocca from outside the venue.

"I feel sorry for them, but they still love me and I feel close to them," Rocca said.

In other Olympics news:

  • Earlier, Michael Greis became the first Olympian with three golds at the Turin Games when he won the men's mass start 15-kilometer biathlon.

    The gold and two medals in the women's 12.5km biathlon extended Germany's lead at the top of the medal table with less than two days of competition remaining.

    Earlier in the games, the 29-year-old Greis won the 20-kilometer biathlon and was part of his country's victorious relay team.

    "I'm now going home with another gold medal," Greis said. "I think this is a really good surprise."

    Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway had looked like he would finally win his first gold, after coming to these games hoping for victories in all five biathlon events, but leading the field on his final visit to the shooting range he missed two targets to drop from first to third place.

    "Sure, I came to the Olympics to win gold, but I was not good enough in the right moment," Bjoerndalen said. "But I made three good races, and that's OK for me."

    Bjoerndalen swept all four biathlon events four years ago and has another gold from Nagano but could manage only two silvers and a bronze in Turin.

    Greis finished in 47 minutes, 20.0 seconds. Tomasz Sikora of Poland was second, 6.3 seconds back.

  • In the women's 12.5km biathlon, Anna Carin Olofsson of Sweden won gold. Kati Wilhelm of Germany added a silver to the gold and silver she won earlier in the games.

    Both Olofsson and Wilhelm missed one shot throughout the race but Olofsson, who competed in cross-country skiing at Salt Lake City four years ago, was stronger over the finishing stages, pulling away from Wilhelm to win in 40:36.5, 18.8 seconds clear of Wilhelm.

    Uschi Disl took bronze to give Germany its 27th medal in Turin, 10 of them gold. The United States was in second place with 23, including eight golds.

  • On The Early Show Friday, U.S. silver medal figure skater Sasha Cohen told co-anchor Harry Smith, "I got off to a rough start. But I found some courage and deep inside, I just — I kept persevering and believing and, you know, it paid off, and I really — the whole rest of the program was very emotional for me. And I enjoyed it." Watch Cohen's comments to Smith by clicking here.