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Miller adds a silver in super-G, Weibrecht takes bronze

America's Bode Miller bashes a gate near the finish line during the men's Super-G. (Steve Ringman / Seattle Times / MCT)
America's Bode Miller bashes a gate near the finish line during the men's Super-G. (Steve Ringman / Seattle Times / MCT)

WHISTLER, British Columbia — Canada's Olympic motto is "Own the Podium," but halfway through the Vancouver Games it seems the best it can hope for is to sublet a step from the U.S. Ski Team.

American skiers continued to dominate the slopes of Whistler Mountain on Friday, winning two more medals in the super-G and making history in the process.

Bode Miller won silver, once again setting a new American standard for career Olympic medals with four. Andrew Weibrecht, a 24-year-old Dartmouth student, took bronze.

Aksel Lund Svindal became the third consecutive Norwegian to win gold in the event with a time of 1 minute, 30.24 seconds.

Miller and Weibrecht's medals give U.S. skiers six for the Olympics, half the Alpine medals awarded at the Games so far, and breaks its previous record of five set in Sarajevo in 1984.

Austria, winner of 34 medals over the last three Games, has just one medal so far and didn't put a skier in the top 13 Friday. Canada, which limited training for other teams in order to keep home course advantage, still hasn't won an Alpine medal in 16 years.

So is the U.S. secret in its mindset?

"That and the fact that we're just way better than everybody else," Miller said with a smile, presumably joking.

Even American skiers who didn't medal were beaming with pride on the sunny historic afternoon.

"It was the Lindsey Vonn Show coming in," said U.S. skier Marco Sullivan. "Now it's the U.S. Ski Team Show."

Miller, who won bronze in the downhill Monday, couldn't have envisioned this moment in September when he was set to retire and, he said, didn't even own a pair of skis. He also hadn't been on the U.S. Ski Team for two years.

One of the reasons he left the team was because he thought it was capable of skiing the way it is at the Vancouver Games. However, it was not.

"I was pointing the finger at everyone else ..." Miller said of his departure. "I didn't think people were taking the risk. I didn't think people were skiing with the heart that skiing needs. That was 100 percent, including myself. That is why I didn't want to be a part of it."

But after talking with the team and doing some soul searching, Miller decided to return to the team in September.

"I figured I had that left to bring," Miller said. "If I got in the right mindset I could help people that way. I could help to elevate that level of skiing."

Other than winning gold, the comeback couldn't have gone any better.

Miller has always insisted on doing things his way and Friday was no exception. He decided to race in his downhill skis rather than his super-G skis in hopes of picking up more speed.

The strategy worked. And as the snow softened later in the day and times started to slow, it was starting to look like Miller would win gold.

However, Svindal's flawless run seemed to transcend the conditions.

"He's almost untouchable on that softer snow," Miller said.

Miller has now won Olympic medals in every discipline but slalom, an event he fell training for on Thursday. He'll compete in slalom Feb. 27.

While Miller, 32, said he was excited to share the podium with the team's next generation, he wasn't nearly as excited as Weibrecht.

"To stand on the podium with two of the best skiers of our generation is an incredible feeling, something I will always remember and cherish," Weibrecht said. "... it's a dream come true."

Sullivan, who finished 23rd Friday, told reporters after Monday's downhill that Weibrecht is "going to be a star."

Friday, one of those reporters said to Sullivan, "I thought you meant in a couple of years."

Sullivan replied, "No, I meant now."

Weibrecht had never finished better than 10th on the World Cup and never better than 11th in the super-G. Still, his teammates weren't surprised by his breakout performance.

"For me, the surprise is that he did not do better sooner," said Ted Ligety, who finished 19th Friday.

At a post race press conference, Weibrecht was surprised to learn of the role he played in history. But then referred to Bill Johnson and Tommy Moe, other American underdogs who came through for gold medals at the Olympics.

"Americans have always been big event skiers," he said.

The U.S. will be strongly favored to add to its medal haul Saturday in the women's super-G. Vonn has already clinched the World Cup title in the event and Julia Mancuso is proving to be a force in speed events at the Games.Miller seems to think the women will ski today with the same mindset as the men.

"Letting go of the attachment to the result and just skiing that inspired way is what's helping us so much," Miller said. "You are seeing a level of skiing out of the U.S. team that we haven't put down in a long time, or ever."

Hill reports for The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

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