Matthias Mayer

Austria's Big Red Machine is back

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — After Austrian racers had on Saturday dominated yet another  edition of the women’s Olympic super-G, the Canadian skier Canadian Marie-Michele Gagnon was asked the obvious: how can this be? And she laughed. The fourth gold medal — out of eight — in Olympic super-G history? The third Olympic super-G gold in a row?

Anna Fenninger, left, and Nicole Hosp on the podium after the super-G // photo Getty Images

On a day when 18 of the 49 best racers in the world didn’t even finish, the highest drop-out rate in women’s super-G Olympic history, an attrition rate of 36.7 percent, the Austrians went 1-3, Anna Fenninger taking gold, Nicole Hosp bronze. Only a late surge into second place by Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch kept it from being 1-2.

Gagnon laughed because the answer, too, was obvious: “Why are Canadians good at hockey?

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Bode looks up at opportunity lost


KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Ski racing can be so, so capricious. The light, just a little bit of light, can make such a huge, huge difference. When you race, the luck of the draw can work for — or against — you. If ever conditions seemed set up for Bode Miller to win the Olympic downhill, here they were. After taking last year off to recover from a bum knee, he had worked himself back into peak condition. Moreover, this Rosa Khutor course was icy, dangerous, thrilling, just the way he likes it. Over the three training runs he had gone 1-6-1, setting the pace, his rivals acknowledging he was the man to beat.

While others were crashing out, Bode had somehow figured out a magic line, especially at the top of the course. Anticipation ran high as he stepped into the start gate, No. 15. Yes, surely he would race more races. But at 36, this was probably his last Olympic downhill.

The media crowd encircling Bode Miller after his eighth-place finish in the Olympic downhill

Two minutes, six-point-75 seconds later it was over.

He wasn’t fast enough.

Not nearly.

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Bode and the first run -- all good


KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — An Olympic downhill comes along once every four years. It is meant in every way to be a demanding test, physically and, equally, mentally. The men’s downhill course here runs just over two miles, the women’s just under.

Bode Miller meets the press after Thursday's downhill training at Rosa Khutor

When they first encountered the setup here two years ago, Bode Miller was saying here Thursday, “that year it was our most challenging downhill,” and keep in mind the World Cup tour hits all the famous mountains you might want to name in the world.

After winning the first of three scheduled training runs in 2: 07.75, Miller said, “I would say this year it’s equal.”

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