Bode's recent streak doesn't mean instant medals

Updated: February 18, 2006, 7:32 PM ET
By Carrie Sheinberg | Special to ESPN.com

SESTRIERE, Italy -- Consider this: 18th, DNF, DNF and DNS. Are these the results of someone you would expect to see on the podium at the Olympic Games?

Bode Miller
AP Photo/Thomas KienzleBode Miller clipped a gate just seconds into his super-G run. He did not finish.
No.

Yet, they are the super-G results Bode Miller has accumulated this season.

Try these: 22nd, 2nd, 7th, 9th, 11th and 4th. Do Miller's downhill results make him a top contender coming into the Games?

Hardly.

And yet, because he has not reached the podium after three events, Miller is already labeled a bust.

The fact is, Miller is skiing better than he has all year, as evidenced by his fifth-place finish in the downhill and first-place finish in the combined downhill run. As for the hooked tip in the slalom portion of the combined? It is hardly surprising from a guy who has only finished two of seven slalom races this year.

Of course, after a dominant season last year, where Miller became the first American man in 22 years to win the World Cup title, expectations were high, and for good reason. Miller can be that good. All of his competitors know he can strike at any time. But for those who are just tuning in, and that is most, welcome to the hair-raising, heartbreaking world of skiing -- Bode Miller style.

Saturday's super-G was perhaps the most difficult for Bode fans to stomach. No question, it was his best opportunity to medal.

Ahead by 0.22 seconds at the top interval time, it seemed he was going to give us the show we have been waiting for. But, too much forward pressure through a bumpy section sent him too close to a gate; he caught his knee and was twisted sideways at 70 mph.

In typical Bode fashion, what followed was an incredible display of his athletic ability. With one ski flailing behind him and dragging along the ground, and the other pointed straight downhill, he somehow managed to escape what would have been serious injury.

Miller still has the giant slalom and slalom to race. He won a GS back in December, but since then has done no better than 14th. Whether or not he feels the weight of expectations, Miller will continue to ski to his own rhythm, as he always does.

Pretty soon though, in order to make most of his detractors go away, Bode is going to have to take one of those speedy split times, combine it with all of that phenomenal athleticism, and channel it into one of his trademark, breathtaking, hallowed, winning runs.

Just like the ones he spoiled us with last season.

Carrie Sheinberg, three-time national ski racing champion and top American finisher in the alpine slalom event at the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.