Bode Miller fears soft snow will create unfair conditions

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Bode Miller was third-fastest Thursday in a training run on the downhill course in preparation for Friday's Olympic men's super-combined race but is bracing for potentially awful snow conditions in the event — and possibly an "unfair" race that does not favor him.

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Skiers call a race unfair when changing conditions make the course slower or faster for one set of start positions. This can particularly happen in warm weather, when the course can start to turn slushy — and slower — in the later start positions.

"If by the luck of the draw you draw (bib number) 5, you're running 45 minutes to an hour before somebody who's ranked two points behind you who draws 29," Miller said. "In these conditions, the course really changes a lot in an hour."

The super-combined schedule originally consisted of a downhill run at 11 a.m. (Sochi time) and a slalom run at 3:30 p.m. But international ski federation officials changed the downhill start time to 10 a.m. because of the warm weather and a desire to race on harder snow.

The downhill course, Miller said, is becoming so soft because of warm weather that it's not even challenging anymore and will give the better slalom skiers, such as reigning super-combined world champion and U.S. teammate Ted Ligety and France's Alexis Pinturault a better shot at medals.

Miller, 36, is the defending Olympic gold medalist in this event, but he hardly trains slalom anymore and says it will be difficult to gain much time in the downhill, by far his better event.

"Right now, the downhill is so easy and so basic, there's nothing challenging about it really," Miller said. "There's no way to put any time on the slalom guys. Everyone just skis normal. Everyone's within a second-and-a-half or so."


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