Bode Miller Injured, Fails to Medal in Men's Giant Slalom at Sochi 2014 Olympics

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Bode Miller Injured, Fails to Medal in Men's Giant Slalom at Sochi 2014 Olympics
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Bode Miller failed to capture a medal in his second straight event. After earning bronze in the super-G over the weekend, the American skiing star came up short in his bid to win another top-three place in the giant slalom at the 2014 Winter Olympics

Miller finished in 20th place with a total time of 2 minutes, 47.82 seconds. However, Ted Ligety secured the gold-medal victory for Team USA with an overall time of 2:45.29. Steve Missillier and Alexis Pinturault captured silver and bronze medals, respectively, for France.

Miller posted a statement on Twitter about Ligety's victory following the event:

Here's a look at the top 10 finishers, courtesy of Sochi2014.com:

Men's Giant Slalom Results
Rank Country Name Run 1 Time Run 2 Time Total Time
1 USA Ted Ligety 1:21.08 1:24.21 (+1.02) 2:45.29
2 FRA Steve Missillier 1:22.58 (+1.50) 1:23.19 2:45.77
3 FRA Alexis Pinturault 1:22.44 (+1.36) 1:23.49 (+0.30) 2:45.93
4 AUT Marcel Hirscher 1:22.47 (+1.39) 1:23.76 (+0.57) 2:46.23
5 CZE Ondrej Bank 1:22.01 (+0.93) 1:24.28 (+1.09) 2:46.29
6 AUT Matthias Mayer 1:22.41 (+1.33) 1:23.93 (+0.74) 2:46.34
7 AUT Benjamin Raich 1:22.67 (+1.59) 1:23.68 (+0.49) 2:46.35
8 GER Felix Neureuther 1:22.51 (+1.43) 1:24.08 (+0.89) 2:46.59
9 FRA Thomas Fanara 1:22.41 (+1.33) 1:24.32 (+1.13) 2:46.73
10 NOR Henrik Kristoffersen 1:22.71 (+1.63) 1:24.08 (+0.89) 2:46.79

Sochi2014.com

Following the event, the U.S. Ski Team documented Miller discussing his future with the media:

The Associated Press (via NBCOlympics.com) states a knee injury will force Miller from competing in the upcoming slalom event:

Bode Miller tweaked his surgically repaired left knee during the first run of Wednesday's Olympic giant slalom and said he's not going to enter the slalom....

...He said Wednesday that his knee bothered him after that race, and it's been swollen during these Olympics.

He missed all of last season while coming back from a knee operation.

Though he won't race again at these Olympic Games, ABC's Matt Gutman provides historical context for Miller's overall performance at Sochi:

The bronze medal in the super-G was the sixth in the American's decorated career. It also helped erase some of the mounting disappointment that followed non-podium finishes in the downhill and super combined competitions.

At 36, there were question marks as to whether Miller could get back in the top three on an Olympic stage after those middling results (by his standards). He answered with a tremendous run on the super-G course to ensure he wouldn't finish the Games without at least one medal.

John Meyer of The Denver Post passed along comments from the American star after he won the bronze. Miller talked about fighting back from injury and having all the hard work finally pay off:

I've never been so stuck on counting them. I've put in a lot of work. This was a hard year, and a lot of effort coming back to get fit and get ready, just battle everything that life throws at you. To come out and ski hard, it's almost therapeutic for me to be in these situations where I really have to test myself. I was happy for it to be on the right side of the hundredths. Some days, medals don't matter. Today was one of the ones where it does matter.

Not only was it vindication for Miller after putting in the effort to work all the way back into Olympic condition, but it also eliminated a lot of pressure. The comparisons to the 2006 Games, when he failed to medal, can fade away.

What type of impact have the 2014 Games had on Miller's legacy?

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The bronze medal allowed him to enter the giant slalom with a far different perspective. Instead of seeking a medal to justify all the attention leading up to the Games, the runs were now just an attempt to add to his already massive Winter Olympic legacy.

Unlike some of the other events, he wasn't viewed as a top contender in the giant slalom. He has won silver in the discipline at the Olympics, but that came all the way back in 2002. So there was less pressure in that regard as well.

Unfortunately for Miller, it didn't result in another medal. He fell short of the podium for the third time in four events in Sochi. Even though he wasn't the gold-medal favorite, he skied much better in the super-G and there was hope he could carry that over to the giant slalom.

Although he wasn't able to secure another top-three finish, the overall view of his performance in Sochi doesn't change much. It was never going to be his best showing at the Olympics after a slow start in the early events, but the super-G medal prevented it from becoming a total disappointment. Another medal would have just added to his lasting impact. 

The future remains unclear for Miller. He's no longer a dominant force in the world of alpine skiing, but he does have enough talent to keep competing at a high level. Exactly how much longer he'll do that is a question mark.

It would certainly be a surprise to see him compete four years from now, at age 40, in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But until he officially announces his retirement from competitive skiing, anything is possible. There's no knowing how it will all play out.

Miller has enjoyed a terrific Olympic career, regardless of what the future has in store.

 

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