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Snowbasin, Utah Feb. 13, 2002 (AP by Rob Gloster)--Bode Miller fell in the downhill and slipped in the slalom, but a dramatic final slalom run gave him a silver medal in the combined event on Wednesday.

In breaking an eight-year Olympic medal drought by U.S. men Alpiners, Miller's all-or-nothing second slalom run catapulted him to second, just behind gold medal winner Kjetil Andre Aamodt of Norway.

Miller was 15th after the downhill portion, then moved up to fifth after the first slalom run. He blew away three skiers on the final slalom run--beating the rest of the field by an amazing 1.16 seconds--to become only the second American man to win an Alpine skiing medal since 1984.

The only other U.S. male Alpine skier to win a medal in the past 18 years is Tommy Moe, who won two at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.

``I had a lot of mistakes out there,'' Miller said to the crowd. ``I felt like I kind of let you guys down. I just wanted to prove something on that last run.''

Miller also became the first American man to win a medal in the combined event, in which results are an aggregate of the downhill and two slalom runs.

Aamodt claimed his sixth Olympic medal, winning in an overall time of 3 minutes, 17.56 seconds. Miller was 0.26 seconds behind _ after trailing Aamodt by a whopping 2.44 seconds following the downhill portion. Benjamin Raich of Austria won the bronze, 0.42 behind Miller.

Aamodt is the three-time defending world champion in the combined event and was a 1984 Olympic silver medalist in the event.

Miller's chances for a medal looked questionable after the downhill portion, where he fell midway down the course with the left side of his body scraping the snow.

He was downcast after his first slalom run, in which he sent snow flying as his skis failed to grip, and he slipped at two turns.

Known for an aggressive style that has led him to four World Cup victories this season, he held nothing back on the second slalom run--on which he was by far the fastest competitor.

All three parts of the event were run on the same day at the Salt Lake City Games, an Olympic first.

An extremely difficult first-run slalom course narrowed the field considerably. Only 27 of the 47 racers who started the combined Wednesday morning made it to the second slalom run.

Among those who fell on the first slalom was Casey Puckett of Aspen, Colo., who became just the second U.S. male Alpine skier to compete in four Olympics.

Miller remains a favorite in the slalom and a medal hopeful in the giant slalom next week.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press

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