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2010 Winter Olympics: Bode Miller is rested and ready for super-combi

WHISTLER, British Columbia — After all the talk, the questions and obligations, a postponement sounded just right for Bode Miller.

His Olympic super-combined originally was set for Tuesday but an overnight snowstorm forced organizers to push the race back to Sunday.

Miller opened his games by winning a bronze medal in the downhill Monday, and by the time he was finished with post-race interviews, news conferences, conference calls and medals ceremonies, he wouldn't have had much time to recover for a race the next day.

"It was definitely a long day," U.S. men's head coach Sasha Rearick said. "I didn't go through half the stuff he did but I was still smoked at the end of the day. At 10:30 when I finally got dinner I was like, 'Whoa, long day!' So for sure, having a day off helped."

Miller then won a silver medal in the super-G on Friday and now he's poised to go after his first Olympic gold medal.

Miller took the silver medal in the traditional combined at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and won the event at the 2003 worlds in St. Moritz, Switzerland. His only victory this season came in the super-combi in Wengen, Switzerland, last month.

"Not to be arrogant but the super-combined is a pretty easy event for me," Miller said at his team's opening news conference at these games. "If I ski anywhere near my potential in either of those events it's rare that I would be off the podium."

For the first time at the Olympics, the combined is being run with one shortened downhill run and one slalom leg. Through the last games, the race always added the times together from one downhill run and two slalom legs.

While the new format favors Miller — he takes so many risks in slalom that having two legs only adds to his chances of going out — he doesn't like it.

"I like the combined better where it's the old-school combined where the downhill is from the top and then there's two runs of slalom and it's a separate race," Miller said.

"It's been a goal of mine since I was a little kid to win a combined where I won the downhill and I won the slalom. I just think that is the overall measure of an overall skier."

Ivica Kostelic is shaping up as Miller's top rival.

The Croatian finished third in Saturday's downhill training — only 0.15 seconds behind downhill gold medalist Didier Defago. Kostelic is also a top slalom skier and his father and coach, Ante, will be setting the slalom leg Sunday.

Kostelic predicted that he needs to be within 1 seconds of the leaders after the downhill run to have a chance of catching up in the slalom leg. He wants his father to set a difficult slalom course.

"The terrain here is not that difficult, so you need a tough setting for it to be a good test," Kostelic said. "If it's too easy, anyone can do it."

Younger sister Janica Kostelic won the women's combined at the past two Olympics, then retired. She now follows Ivica and offers some coaching advice.

Super-g winner Aksel Lund Svindal is also a threat, although his slalom is not as good as Miller's. Defago will also try to just hang on in the slalom leg, while Swiss teammate Silvan Zurbriggen is more evenly balanced between the two disciplines.

Svindal won the super-combined at last year's worlds in Val d'Isere, France; and Defago finished fourth in the event at the 2007 world championships in Are, Sweden.

Overall World Cup leader Benjamin Raich is a slalom specialist, and defending champion Ted Ligety also is better at the technical discipline.

Ligety, from Park City, Utah, doesn't consider himself among the favorites this time because of the new format.

Julien Lizeroux of France won the silver behind Svindal at last year's worlds and Natko Zrncic-Dim of Croatia captured the bronze after Miller threw away an almost certain medal by skiing out in the slalom leg.

While a postponement is unlikely, weather could be an issue again Sunday. If conditions are anything like they were for Saturday's women's super-G, sunny skies could melt the slalom course for later starters — meaning the leaders of the downhill run.