Miller disqualified in slalom

American leaves without medal

Austrians sweep

Men's skiing

Winter Olympics

February 26, 2006|By JEMELE HILL

SESTRIERE, Italy -- There is one piece of good news for Bode Miller.

He can't ski in any more events.

Miller was disqualified from the slalom yesterday for straddling a gate, meaning the impetuous American finished the Winter Olympics without any medals.

It was a disappointing end to a dreadful Olympics for the World Cup champion, who some predicted would medal in all five of the events he entered.

Miller's disqualification occurred just a few seconds into his run. After that, he skied off course.

"The way he skis is definitely impossible," said Ted Ligety, who surprisingly won the gold medal in the combined, but also was disqualified in the slalom for straddling a gate. "At the same time, it's tough to come in and win every single race you enter. It's just a tough expectation to have."

Austrian Benjamin Raich won gold in the slalom, part of a historic Austrian sweep. Reinfried Herbst won silver and Rainer Schoenfelder bronze.

It's the first time a country has won all three medals and Austria's 14 alpine medals also were a record.

Of course, Miller didn't stick around to explain his latest debacle, or why these Olympics have been so disastrous -- at least not to the bulk of the American media.

He skied past reporters in the interview area, but talked at length with a foreign television station near the athletes' village.

He also later gave an exclusive interview to the Associated Press.

"I just did it my way," Miller said. "I'm not a martyr and I'm not a do-gooder. I just want to go out and rock. And man, I rocked here."

Ligety, though, was the one left to explain Miller's actions to the rest of the American press.

"I think I've gotten to the point where I shouldn't be having to talk about Bode," Ligety said.

The slalom disqualification was Miller's second of the Olympics. He was fifth in the downhill, disqualified in the combined, skied off course in the super-G and tied for sixth in the slalom.

Yesterday's race was considered one of Miller's weaker events. He has not finished 12 of his past 15 slalom races.

Miller, who won two silver medals in Salt Lake City, received an extraordinary amount of media attention before the Games. He was on the covers of Time and Newsweek. He also had controversial interviews with 60 Minutes and Rolling Stone magazine.

Miller mostly has been mum with the American media in Italy, but plenty of pictures of him partying in Sestriere have circulated on the Internet.

"Me, it's been an awesome two weeks," Miller told the Associated Press. "I got to party and socialize at an Olympic level."

Although Miller has shouldered most of the backlash, the entire American ski team turned in a disappointing performance.

Their slogan entering the Olympics was, "Best In The World," but they hardly were that. They set a goal of eight medals, but collected just two golds.

"We haven't had that many medals but we've had a lot of good performances by other guys," Ligety said. "We had a lot of top 10's and stuff like that, top 15's. You can't say it's been a horrible performance. It's just Bode and Daron [Rahlves] didn't have the medals they were supposed to get."

Jemele Hill writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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