Slaloms bode well for more Miller medals

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By Simon Evans

WHISTLER (Reuters) - U.S. skier Bode Miller is rarely impressed by honors, milestones or statistics but he is close to achieving a record that even he would surely be proud of.

After his super combined gold on Sunday, the 32-year-old Miller is one podium away from becoming the first male skier to win four medals in a single Olympic Games.

With the giant slalom and slalom to come, events in which the American has a good record, Miller is in contention for the record-breaking fourth medal at Whistler.

"I am in a good position to do it but that doesn't guarantee me anything. I am racing the other two though so I have a chance," he told reporters.

Miller proved his excellence in the four disciplines - downhill, super G, slalom and giant slalom - by winning races in all of them in the 2005 World Cup season, becoming only the second man to achieve that feat.

"For me the measure of ski racers has always been how versatile they are, how close you can be to being the best in five events.

"In an overall World Cup season you can prove that - you can win in four disciplines in one season and that was a huge accomplishment for me and something I was really proud of," he said.

"To do it in one Olympics is different because it requires a lot of luck and a lot of things to come together - that is why no-one has done it before, not because they weren't capable," he said.

Miller is certainly taking nothing for granted in the two technical events where he says there is a host of talent that could snaffle the medals.

"Slalom is in my mind the toughest event and it is at the highest level right now and giant is also really high.

"There are about 15 guys skiing at a level is above what I have ever seen before on the World Cup," he said.

Miller, who began as a technical specialist before broadening out to the speed events, rates slalom as the ultimate event

"When you ski slalom well, it is the best event there is. When you ski slalom poorly, it is the worst event," he said.

Austrian Stephan Eberharter was the most recent man to win three medals in a single Olympics with his gold, silver and bronze at Salt Lake eight years ago, while Norwegian Kjetil-Andre Aamodt won three medals in the 1994 Lillehammer Games.

The most impressive hat-tricks came in the days when there were only three events in Alpine Skiing before the addition of the super-G and the combined medal.

Austrian Toni Sailer won gold in all three races at Cortina d'Ampezzo in 1956 and Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy repeated the feat in 1968 at Grenoble.

(Editing by Miles Evans)