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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) — For a second straight world championships, a bad crash knocked out a big-name U.S. skier.
In this case, with Bode Miller, it might just have been his last race.
The six-time Olympic medalist had surgery to fix a torn right hamstring tendon after his ski appeared to deeply slice him when he wiped out in a super-G race Thursday. He was working his way back from surgery in November to fix a herniated disk and competing in his first event of the season.
Lindsey Vonn knows his pain all too well.
Two years ago at worlds in Austria, Vonn tore ligaments in her right knee after a crash. She missed the Sochi Olympics following a second knee operation, but was able to return to the slopes this season and recently broke the all-time women's record for most World Cup wins.
There may be no such comeback in Miller's future.
The recovery time for this type of injury is around two months, meaning the 37-year-old Miller may not be back in a racing suit.
If this was indeed his last race, Miller went out skiing his way: Teetering on the brink of control and taking risks at every turn to gain speed.
This was vintage Miller.
"Bode was skiing outstanding," U.S. men's coach Sasha Rearick said. "He was going for it, absolutely sending it from top to bottom. He took risks and was putting down a run that inspired America, inspires the world."
Then, it all unraveled. Miller cut a gate too close and hooked his left arm, sending him spiraling out of control.
First, one ski popped off. Then the other and he began to somersault down the slope. Once he righted himself, he slid for a bit on his bottom.
Miller slowly got up and waited for someone to bring his skis. He then clicked back in and wrapped up the run, albeit missing one of his ski poles. He waved to the fans and to his wife, professional volleyball player Morgan Miller, who was in the gallery with his kids. The couple has a baby due in May.
When the accident first happened, men's coach Sasha Rearick was holding out hope it wasn't too bad.
It was and he underwent surgery. Miller said after surgery on his Twitter account: "Feeling lucky since things could have been way worse."
Just a fraction to his left on the race hill and Miller would've avoided that gate and may have wound up on the podium (he was the fastest on the course through the opening two split times). But that's Miller — always trying to cut a few corners in the name of speed.
"Bode knew he had to put it on the limit in order to get on the podium today," said teammate Ted Ligety, who finished ninth and surrendered his super-G world title to winner Hannes Reichelt of Austria. "What happened today was more just bad luck.
"That's the sport of ski racing — glory or biting the dust is a matter of centimeters."
This is a course Miller knows so well, too. Of his 33 World Cup wins, four have been on the tricky Birds of Prey course.
"You don't expect (a crash) from him, but you expect him to bring that intensity," teammate Steven Nyman said. "That's him. Sometimes it pays off. Sometimes it doesn't."
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