Miller grabs gold at last, hockey heats up

Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:38pm EST
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By Brian Rhoads

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Bode Miller of the United States, for so long the nearly man of Winter Olympics, slalomed from deep in the pack to win gold in the men's super combined on Sunday as Vancouver braced for a day of hockey rivalries.

In the nail-biting Alpine skiing competition, Aksel Lund Svindal, who won gold for Norway in the men's super G, had led after the downhill round and Miller trailed a distant seventh.

But the American, silver medalist behind Svindal in the super G, set the pace with a blistering slalom and Svindal was unable to finish after missing a gate.

"I skied my ass off," gasped Miller, who had never won gold before in an otherwise glittering career. "To execute the race the way I did today is something I will be proud of for the rest of my life." He has now won gold, silver and bronze here.

In a tragic turn in the Games, Canadian champion Joannie Rochette's mother died of a heart attack on Sunday, just days before the start of the women's Olympic figure skating competition.

Rochette, who continued to train, has been tipped as the only athlete likely to stop an Asian sweep of the medals in the women's competition following her silver-medal performance at last year's world championships.

Germany's Magdalena Neuner won her second gold medal of the Games with a storming finish in the women's biathlon 12.5km mass start. Switzerland's Michael Schmid took the gold medal in the crash-filled debut of men's ski cross.

The results leave U.S. top of the medals table with seven golds, ahead of Germany, Norway and Switzerland on five. South Korea and Canada have four apiece.   Continued...

<p>Bode Miller of the U.S. clears a gate during the Slalom run of the men's Alpine Skiing Super Combined event at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, February 21, 2010. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay</p>