Bode Miller: "It's a pleasure for me to ski on this track."
KRASNAYA POLYANA - Bode MILLER (USA) was the name on everyone's lips after the men's third and final training session on Saturday morning, following his utter mastery of the fearsome course.
"I was going to go easier but seeing those first couple of guys crashing (PERKO and Brice ROGER), I decided not to do that. It is so fast and the snow is so hard that you don't want to sacrifice edge pressure and grip on the snow for aerodynamics," said MILLER.
The 2010 super combined Olympic champion finished fastest in a time of 2 minutes and 06.09 seconds.
"The whole middle [section] you can see the glare ice reflection but it's a pleasure for me to ski on this track. I would be angry with myself if I had wasted this opportunity to properly run on this track," said MILLER.
In what is being increasingly seen as a two-skier shootout, world downhill champion Aksel Lund SVINDAL (NOR) finished second fastest, 0.66 seconds behind the 36-year-old MILLER.
The Norwegian is unequivocal about the challenge he faces in Sunday's race.
"I think I will have to beat Bode MILLER. He is really fast and skis really well. What he is doing is impressive," said SVINDAL.
Very few skiers passed through the media centre without mentioning MILLER's extraordinary form. USA teammate Steven NYMAN'S perspective was typical.
"The other skiers think they are skiing well but they're half a second behind. When you see guys in the zone it's impressive and that, evidently, is where he (MILLER) is now," said NYMAN.
Perhaps the worrying thing for his rivals was MILLER'S final comment.
"I could do better."
Running first and third respectively, PERKO and ROGER both crashed on the middle part of the course on a day that saw many athletes struggle to navigate the tough downhill. Ten racers failed to complete their training runs. Both PERKO and ROGER, after receiving medical attention, skied to the finish.
Shortly after the training, ROGER wrote an update on his Facebook.
"A childhood dream just turned into dust...I broke my ACL today and therefore my season ends here," he wrote.
Concerns were raised by some observers about the amount of time it took medical assistants to reach PERKO.
"After today's downhill training, there was a meeting with the organising committee and medical services to fine tune the communication between all parties so all personnel are prepared to act as soon as the course is clear if a skier needs medical assistance," Guenter HUJARA said after the training.
"Ample medical coverage is present at all of the races here in Sochi, ensuring the safety and health of all competitors. In the downhill, there are eight areas where a total of 16 doctors are on standby. During today's training, the medical service, the rescue service and the helicopter were all in place and ready to provide assistance."
Guillermo FAYED (FRA) will take ROGER's place on the French team.
We wish ROGER a quick recovery and hope to see him back on skis soon. An update on PERKO will most likely be made available at tonight's TCM after 17.30.