Bode Miller fastest in final run

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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Firmly establishing himself as the man to beat, Bode Miller was fastest Saturday in the final Olympic downhill training run.

Miller finished in 2 minutes, 6.09 seconds, one day before the first medal race on the Alpine schedule. The 36-year-old American also turned in the top time in Thursday's opening training session. He was sixth in Friday's training.

Asked what his objectives were Saturday, Miller said with a smile: "Um, not kill myself was primary."

He went on to explain that his "secondary" aim was to fix a mistake he made Friday in a particular section that comes right before a spot known as the Bear Jump. Miller was satisfied that he now knows the right way to approach that portion.

"I felt confident I could do it," Miller said, "but I hadn't done it in either of the training runs before, so I think that was important for me to nail that section and ski it really well."

He already owns a U.S.-record five Olympic Alpine medals, including three from the 2010 Winter Games. Another triple medalist in Vancouver, Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, was second-fastest Saturday, 0.66 behind. A pair of Italians came next: Peter Fill and Werner Heel.

Svindal was the downhill silver medalist four years ago, one spot ahead of Miller.

After Saturday's training, Svindal acknowledged Miller has looked good so far on the Rosa Khutor course.

"Is he the favorite? I think so. He's been the best skier on this mountain, so right now he looks like the favorite," said Svindal, like Miller a two-time overall World Cup champion. "But there is me, and I would say three, four other guys that could beat him. So we'll see what happens."

Svindal was the only racer who was less than a second slower than Miller on Saturday.

"Looking at Bode, he brings intensity, but it's really that he's skiing really well," Svindal said. "That's his biggest advantage right now. Especially the top part, it's impressive."

Ten of 55 starters failed to finish. The first racer, Rok Perko of Slovenia, bloodied his face in a crash and was taken to the athletes village to be examined for a possible broken nose. He won't compete in the medal run.

"That was kind of brutal," Svindal said.

Given that this was training, with no medals at stake, Svindal said he skied a little less than 100 percent full-out.

Miller also did not worry about staying in a tight tuck position Saturday, easing upright a bit at times to rest his legs.

But he made sure to put full effort into learning which line he wanted to follow Sunday, when it counts.

"Race day is always different. It's going to be hard to stay calm," said Miller, who grew up in New Hampshire and now lives in San Diego. "Some courses, if you get fired up or you get too much intensity, you go slower. This one, I don't think (that's) the case. But yeah, I'm going to be ready. I want to win."

After the training runs were finished Saturday, the blind draw for the race hit a snag.

Using numbered miniature Russian dolls drawn from a pot, officials placed American skier Marco Sullivan at No. 11 for Sunday's race. Fine enough, but Fill of Italy was already put into that position.

From back in the crowded room at the team captains' meeting, U.S. men's coach Sasha Rearick immediately called for a redraw, which was granted.

Many of the top racers, who already were scheduled to receive the prime slots between No. 8 and 22, stayed virtually the same. Miller went from No. 12 to 15, while Svindal of Norway moved from 21 to 18. Steven Nyman of the U.S. drew the No. 1 spot after Jan Hudec of Canada initially had it.

Nyman and American teammate Travis Ganong, now at No. 7, will now be able to radio up course reports to coaches at the start house with Miller, information that could prove beneficial. Miller missed gold by nine-hundredths of a second at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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