Miller, Vonn in High Gear As Olympic Skiing Begins

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Alpine skiing finally got going at the Vancouver Olympics on Monday, and Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn wasted no time showing why they’re the most decorated Americans to schuss down the slopes. Under drip-free skies and cold-enough temperatures, Miller was among the first down Blackcomb Mountain, and among the fastest. He broke into a big ol’ grin at the end of his run, which put him in first place at the time. It held up for bronze, a huge step toward making up for the mess he made four years ago in Turin. “I was psyched,” Miller said. “I skied hard.” Vonn, meanwhile, had the fastest time through the upper section of the course in a downhill training run. That’s a good indication the days of delays have helped her bruised right shin, and that she’s still the woman to beat – especially in downhill, her best event. It’s scheduled for Wednesday. Miller finished just nine-hundredths of a second behind the winning time of Didier Defago of Switzerland. That’s the smallest margin between gold and bronze in the event’s history, which dates to 1948. “It’s such a relief to get a medal,” Miller said. “The fact that those other guys beat me to the hundredth of a second doesn’t bother me.” It was the first U.S. medal in the event since Tommy Moe took gold in 1994. The only other American to have won a downhill medal was Bill Johnson getting gold in 1984. Miller won two silver medals in 2002, then went into the 2006 Winter Olympics as one of the headliners, only to make the wrong kind of history. A fifth-place finish in the downhill started his demise; it turned out to be his best finish. A rebellious, couldn’t-care-less attitude made things worse. Now 32, he’s the father of a young girl and the winner of a U.S.-record 32 World Cup titles. He considered retiring after being shut out at the 2007 and 2009 world championships, but now he’s glad to have kept at it. His medal was the seventh for the U.S. delegation, three more than any other nation.