WHISTLER, British Columbia -- Bode Miller finally won his elusive gold medal, using a blistering slalom run Sunday to complete one of the most unlikely Olympic comebacks ever.
Four years after bombing out amid lofty expectations at the Turin Games and a year after practically walking away from the sport, Miller won the super-combined for his third medal in as many events at Vancouver.
Seventh after the morning downhill run, Miller skied the third-fastest afternoon slalom leg for a two-run time of 2 minutes, 44.92 seconds -- a comfortable 0.33 ahead of Ivica Kostelic, of Croatia, who matched his silver medal at Turin, Italy. Silvan Zurbriggen, of Switzerland, claimed bronze, 0.40 back.
For a guy who has insisted that medals aren't important, this one clearly was special.
"The way I executed, the way I skied, is something I'll be proud of the rest of my life," Miller said.
"I skied with 100 percent heart -- I didn't hold anything back. ... It's just awesome. There's nothing else to say."
Having skipped summer training while he debated retiring, Miller nearly didn't have enough energy to hold on as he came over the final pitch of the slalom course.
"My legs started feeling really wobbly," he said. "I didn't even feel like I was looking at the gate anymore."
Miller has also won a silver and a bronze at the Vancouver Games -- a sharp contrast from his no-medal performance in Turin, where he made more headlines for his late-night partying than his skiing.
Miller said he was running on "fumes" following his first two races, the downhill and the super-G.
"I felt awesome about it," he said. "But still, it's incredibly emotionally exhausting to do it like that.
"I've got one leg that's injured and another leg that's on my boat already," he added, looking forward to his postseason vacation.
Miller and Kostelic were 1-2 when downhill leader Aksel Lund Svindal came down, and when the big Norwegian failed to complete his slalom leg, Miller had the gold medal that had eluded him since he burst onto the scene at Salt Lake City in 2002.
"I figured they both had really good runs, so I couldn't hold back," Svindal said. "I had to attack it if I had any chance to get that gold."
Carlo Janka, of Switzerland, finished fourth and Ted Ligety, the American, who won the traditional combined in Turin, finished fifth despite posting the fastest slalom run.
In another stellar day for the U.S. team, Will Brandenburg posted the second-fastest slalom run and finished 10th overall in his Olympic debut. The Spokane, Wash., resident did not finish the only four World Cup races he entered.
The three medals in Vancouver match the record for most by a man in Alpine skiing at a single Olympics.
* HOCKEY: Ryan Miller made 42 saves to help the U.S. hockey team upset Canada 5-3 in one of its biggest wins since the famous Miracle on Ice in 1980.
The hockey win gave the Americans a perfect record in the preliminary round and assured them a berth in the quarterfinals.
The U.S. came out wearing jerseys nearly identical to those worn by the 1960 gold-medal winning team at Squaw Valley, which also was the last group of Americans to beat Canada in the Olympics.
The U.S. lived up to the threads with Brian Rafalski scoring just 41 seconds into the game and Rafalski scoring again later in the period.
Chris Drury and Jamie Langenbrunner scored to put the U.S. up 4-2, and the Americans held off a relentless late surge by Canada that included Sidney Crosby's goal with 3:09 remaining.
One play summed up the first game, a rematch of the 1998 gold-medal game between Russia and the Czech Republic: Russia's Alex Ovechkin flattening Jaromir Jagr with a hit at center ice that also broke his visor. The Russians won 4-2 to claim first place in their group.
Evgeni Malkin scored twice for Russia and Ovechkin had two assists.
* SKICROSS: Michael Schmid won the Olympics debut of men's skicross, a cousin to the NASCAR-on-ice snowboarding race featuring four racers charging through a winding course filled with jumps.
For an unpredictable sport, the first men's winner wasn't much of a surprise. Schmid was the top-ranked World Cup rider this season.
But the final did have one of its trademark wipeouts, with Canada's Chris Del Bosco, winner of the Winter X Games last month, going down hard on the next-to-last jump.
Americans Casey Puckett and Daron Rahlves were eliminated in the first round of the four-man heats.
* SPEEDSKATING: Ireen Wust stunned the home team by winning a gold medal in the 1,500. Canada's Christine Nesbitt, who took gold in the 1,000, had hoped to add another Olympic win. She was slightly ahead of Wust's pace heading into the final lap but couldn't match the last trip around the oval produced by the Dutch skater.
Wust won in 1 minute, 56.89 seconds. Canada did manage a silver, claimed by Kristina Groves in 1:57.14. Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic took the bronze (1:57.96). Nesbitt wassixth.
* BOBSLED: Germany's Andre Lange rarely loses -- and never in the Olympics. Bobsled's best driver won his fourth gold in four career races inside the winter rings, taking the two-man competition to become the winningest pilot in Olympic history.
Lange completed his four trips down Whistler Sliding Center's track in 3 minutes, 26.65 seconds, .22 ahead of Germany's Thomas Florschuetz (3:26.87), who won the silver. Russia's Alexsandr Zubkov (3:27.51) won the bronze.
Lange is the first driver to win four bobsled golds since the event debuted in 1932 at Lake Placid.
* CURLING: The U.S. women's curling team lost to Canada after winning their previous two matches. The Canadians are 5-0, but have had some tight matches. They looked dominant, winning 9-2 in a shortened match.
The Americans also lost to defending champion Sweden later in the day.
* BIATHLON: Magdalena Neuner overcame two missed shots to win the women's 121aN2-kilometer mass start. This gold will go nicely with the gold she won in the 10K pursuit and her silver in the 71aN2 K sprint.
In the men's 15-kilometer mass start race, World Cup leader Evgeny Ustyugov of Russia took the gold. Tim Burke failed again to end the American biathlon drought, finishing 18th.