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December 22, 2013

Miller improving race by race ahead of Sochi

VAL GARDENA, Italy — Bode Miller, improving race by race, appears right on schedule to peak for the Sochi Olympics in February.

After taking a year off to recover from left knee surgery, the two-time overall World Cup champion had his best speed finish of this season with a fifth-place result Saturday in the prestigious Val Gardena downhill. That came a day after placing eighth in a super-G to crack the top 10 for the first time in a speed event this year.

Miller would have made the podium if he was just a bit faster on the flats at the beginning of the Saslong course.

But he had to deal with cloud cover that limited visibility on the top section when he started. Getting his equipment dialed in after so much time off also has been a factor, he said.

“There’s so many details, you never know what it is that’s really causing the problem,” said the 36-year-old Miller, who has won five Olympic medals, including gold in the super-combined at the 2010 Vancouver Games. “The fact is we just don’t have the whole thing together right now. We’re close, and we’re getting there.”

Canada’s Erik Guay won the race, a year after missing out on the victory because of changing weather that required a shortened course.

Guay clocked 1 minute, 56.65 seconds down a course lined with huge jumps and filled with tricky terrain, making up time over the last few gates to edge Kjetil Jansrud of Norway by 0.12 seconds.

“It is sweet,” Guay said. “I skied really well and took the chances necessary.”

Guay earned his fourth career World Cup victory, along with gold in downhill at the 2011 world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Johan Clarey of France finished third, 0.24 back, and overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal was fourth.

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