Miller claims elusive Olympic gold medal

Bode Miller pumped his ski poles a few times after crossing the

finish line, a trace of a grin beginning to appear.

Hardly an elaborate celebration after an aggressive slalom run

that helped land him that elusive Olympic gold medal Sunday during

the super-combined. But to his father, Woody, the tiny show of

emotion conveyed everything.

Like the weight of the world had been lifted.

“He looks happier, like he’s enjoying himself,” his father

said. “That’s what I like to see.”

Taking in the scene from the middle of a packed crowd, Woody

Miller was waiting for a display just like that, to inform the

father that, yes, his son was indeed enjoying this moment.

Then again, what’s not to enjoy?

Bode Miller now has three medals at these Winter Games and five

for his career. The five Alpine medals tie him for the second-most

by any man in Olympic history, behind the eight won by Kjetil Andre

Aamodt of Norway.

And while Miller has long insisted that medals matter little to

him, his father held a little different view of the situation. He

thought his son was “hungry” for that elusive gold, almost

burdened by it.

“There was something that was definitely on his shoulders,”

said Woody Miller, who’s from Franconia, N.H. “I think it’s more

like he’s enjoying himself. That’s always been key for him. He lost

that.”

Consider it found again.

Woody Miller couldn’t find the words to describe his son’s final

slalom run, saying only that he was really “ripping there” in the

slalom. He knew his son nailed it by his expression crossing the

finish line.

“He was pleased with his run,” Woody Miller said. “I could

see that on his face.”

That sure wasn’t the case four years ago at the Turin Games.

Touted as the star of those games, Bode Miller left empty-handed,

drawing more attention for his social life than his skiing.

“I’m sure he was trying as hard as he could in every event, but

he wasn’t experiencing the joy of racing,” Woody Miller said. “He

is now.”

Hard not to.

There have been no expectations at this Olympics, and maybe

that’s helped, his dad suggested.

“That’s something he has in common with me. I like to feel like

I’m a dark horse,” said Woody Miller, who was at the medals

ceremony Sunday night, snapping photos. “He likes to be a

surprise.”

Besides gold, the 32-year-old Bode Miller also has won bronze in

the downhill and silver in the super-G.

More important to him, though, is the way he’s skiing, not so

much his place on the podium.

“I would’ve been proud of that skiing with a medal or not,”

Miller said. “The three medals are kind of a distraction more than

anything else, because it makes everyone think I’m proud of the

races because I got the medals.”

His dad knows that’s not the case.

“Because he’s skiing the way he wants to ski and getting some

results at the same time – that means a lot,” Woody Miller said.

“When he’s on the race course, he’s in control. But that’s a tiny

fraction of his life.”