US skier Miller laments decision not to have eye surgery
US skier Bode Miller takes part in training session for the super-combined discipline at the Sochi Winter Olympics, on February 11, 2014 - by Alexander Klein
The 36-year-old, competing at his fifth Winter Games, clocked 1min 56.42sec down a shortened Rosa Khutor piste, with officials battling warmer weather and softening snow.
He finished a full 4.50sec ahead of US teammate and world champion Ted Ligety while rival Alexis Pinturault of France was fifth at 1.51sec in the first official training session for Friday's super-combined race.
"I felt like I obviously let myself down on race day (in the downhill) and I wanted to come out and figure out how I was going to make up time now the conditions have changed," said Miller.
"It's really a completely different race course than it was in those training runs. In the super-combined in particular, it's going to be tough because there's all the good slalom skiers and it's a tough hill for slalom and it's going to cause some separation."
Miller said his performance in Sunday's downhill, in which he finished eighth, 0.52sec behind Austrian Matthias Mayer -- after topping two training runs -- had been "a pretty big let-down".
"I skied as hard as I could and as hard as I would. I couldn't have taken any more risk. Maybe I could have taken less, but that's hard to ask of a racer on Olympic downhill race day."
Miller also lamented the fact he had not gone ahead with laser eye surgery before the Games to help him through the "flat" light that swathes snowy slopes when the sun goes in.
"I haven't won in five years when the sun's not out," he said. "I was supposed to get eye surgery earlier this year... we just never found the time to do it because the race schedule is so tight.
"For me my vision's critical. When the light's perfect I can ski with any of the best guys in the world, and when it goes out my particular style suffers more than the guys who are more stable and don't do as much in the middle of the turn."
Miller said the changed conditions on the mountain would play a big part in the race outcome.
- Real challenge for slalom guys -
"In the original downhill (training runs) we ran, when it was icy and hard, it would have been amazing because it would have been a real challenge for the slalom guys," he said.
"It would have been a pretty big gap on the downhill side of things. I think it would have been a great race and beneficial to me.
"But now the conditions have gotten a lot easier and it's more equal in the downhill, it's going to be hard to put time on guys."
Ligety took last year's world championships by storm, winning not only the super-combined but also the super-G and giant slalom, but has this season been plagued by what he has dubbed bad luck, notably in the slalom.
"I want to get a feeling for speed and the hill and hopefully I can start racheting up over the next couple of days," he said after his training run.
"It's a challenging downhill for sure, which I think in some cases gives the guys who have the ability to turn the ability to stay closer. It's really tough to tell.
"It's kind of cool in super-combined that it's a little bit up in the air. There's never really truly distinct favourites because people like myself or Pinturault can have really big swings in downhill ability and even guys like Bode can have huge swings in his slalom ability.
"It's not quite as certain about who's going to win."
Miller insisted Ligety had "to be considered one of the favourites".
"On this hill, he won't lose much on the downhill. His slalom, I think, is great, he's been making mistakes but he can put together two runs."
Pinturault agreed, saying Ligety's ability over the downhill run could be vital to deciding Friday winner.
He added: "I missed a gate up high, but I had some good feelings for a first outing. Now we head for video analysis and correct what needs to be corrected, and why not go faster?"