Bode Miller showed again why he is the greatest and most charismatic skier in U.S. history.
And he did it by finishing 12th in Tuesday's Super-G at the World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
(Yes, at times -- notably the 2006 Olympics -- Miller also has been the most annoying and petulantly infuriating great skier in history, but we all saw a more mature, reinvented Bode at the 2010 Olympics, and his attitude does not appear to have changed.)
Anyway, Miller added another amazing chapter to his oft-picaresque biography when he lost his right pole after hooking his arm on a gate two-thirds of the way into Tuesday's race. He still gained time on the leaders in the next 25 seconds before he could no longer control his line.
(For Universal Sports video of the race, click here.)
Miller insisted that even with both poles, he likely would have made a costly mistake. Given his penchant for racing at the edge, that may be true. But it seems just as possible he would have won.
He motivated Christoph Innerhofer of Italy to make a run that would end with his winning a first major title.
"I saw Bode Miller and I told myself that's how I had to race too," Innerhofer was quoted as saying in an Associated Press report. "Simply give your best, then you can't reproach yourself at the finish."
With what would have been about 16 seconds left to ski in this Super-G, Miller had the fastest interval time, 0.03 seconds ahead of Innerhofer. Five seconds later, Miller went off line so badly he chose to stand up and coast to the finish.
"I wasn't out of the race when I hooked my arm. It was a matter of making it to the finish without a big mistake and I probably couldn't have avoided that mistake with a pole,'' Miller said. "You saw Aksel [Svindal] blow out right there too, and Aksel is one of the best in the world.
"It's not the way I wanted to start it (worlds), but the speed is good. It's encouraging to see that I have the right tactics. I just need to hang on to all my equipment until I get to the finish."
This episode recalled his one-ski adventure at the 2005 worlds. My story on that race, which I saw firsthand, is below:
February 4, 2005
One-ski feat only adds to Miller legend; American stays upright, on course for 90 seconds
By Philip Hersh, Tribune Olympic sports reporter.
BORMIO, Italy -- When Bode Miller was halfway through his run, an Italian TV commentator told his audience Miller's performance was going to be the highlight of the day.
Some would call what Miller did in the downhill portion of Thursday's combined at the World Alpine Championships a highlight for the ages--or at least several "SportsCenter" cycles, which define a sporting eternity these days.
After all, it isn't often a racer goes more than a mile down a precipitous, bumpy and icy mountain at speeds near 50 m.p.h. . . . on one ski.