Updated: Thursday, 06 February 2014 19:30 | By Agence France-Presse

US veteran Miller fastest in Olympic downhill training

US ski veteran Bode Miller set himself up nicely for a sixth Olympic medal by clocking the fastest time in the men's first downhill training run in Rosa Khutor on Thursday.


US veteran Miller fastest in Olympic downhill training

Bode Miller takes part in a Men's Alpine Skiing Downhill training session at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center on February 6, 2014 - by Fabrice Coffrini

Miller, 36, was quickest in a time of 2min 07.75sec but warned much could still happen before Sunday's race. 

"Unfortunately they don't give any medals for training runs, if they did I'd be psyched today!," he told reporters after the run. 

"It certainly doesn't hurt to come out here and ski hard, to ski well in the first run is great but I have to keep shaving time."

Second fastest was Swiss sensation Patrick Kueng, fresh from his Wengen World Cup victory, at just 0.03sec, followed by Austria's medal hope Matthias Mayer.

Despite this being the first of three training runs before Sunday's race, Miller and company went all out, flying 40 to 50 metres over two impressive jumps and hitting speeds of over 130kmh under glorious sunshine.

"It doesn't do you any good to come in and be soft in a turn when you know you're not going to do that on race day," said the US star. 

"It's great to win the first training run (but) it really is going to be about who improves the most from here, who learns this course the best."  

Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal, downhill silver medallist at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and current World Cup leader, was among the many racers who praised the good snow conditions and challenging course.

"It's interesting. You have perfect winter snow at the top and then you have ice that looks like it's breaking up a little bit so it's bumpy ice in the middle section.

"That combination to me looks like the most challenging part of this downhill," said the 31-year-old, who deplored a "bad run", finishing in joint-eighth place, 1.21sec behind Miller. 

"I would definitely like to be faster but I have some big things I have to change, so I'm not too worried here," he said.

Italy's Christof Innerhofer, fifth in training and a strong contender in the downhill, also welcomed what he saw as ideal conditions for a medal.  

"Hard snow, it's for me. All this season I had dreamed of finding these conditions and finally I find them.

"I came in the finish line and I was happy because I knew that I had skied fast. Now I know before the race that I can be with the first." 

For defending Olympic champion Didier Defago of Switzerland, Sunday's podium was clear: "The favourites will be Miller, Svindal, maybe Kueng." 

But the 36-year-old veteran, fresh from a surprise win in Kitzbuehel two weeks ago, although 26th in training on Thursday, refused to rule himself out.

"Nothing's impossible, you just have to fight for it."

Canada's Erik Guay, who won the Bormio downhill in December but has been struggling with an injured knee, has been named as another potential favourite. 

"The best guys typically do well on challenging courses, it should be a real battle on what is a world-class course," he predicted. 

Two more training runs for the men are planned on Friday and Saturday ahead of the downhill race on Sunday which kicks off at 11:00am (0700GMT). 

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