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Austrian Wins Men's Giant Slalom - 2002-02-22

Austrian skier Stephan Eberharter has won the men's giant slalom gold medal in Park City, Utah. The Austrian rounded out his Olympic medal collection by edging American Bode Miller.

Eberharter had earned the silver medal in super giant slalom and a bronze in the downhill last week. He had won the silver medal in the giant slalom four years ago in Nagano. But Olympic gold had eluded him because of injuries and because he skied in the shadow of "the Herminator" teammate Hermann Maier. Thursday at Park City, Eberharter finally earned the Olympic gold medal.

American Bode Miller captured the silver medal, 88/100ths of one-second back after two runs down the course. The bronze went to Norway's Lasse Kjus, 1.04 seconds back. Miller led the race until Eberharter's second effort. The Austrian said he knew he had to ski fast to beat the unorthodox American's time. "So I knew he was a very good racer with a great future," he said. "And he is having a crazy style in skiing. But he is fast and that's all that counts, you know?"

Bode Miller competed in Nagano four years ago but did not finish in either the slalom or the giant slalom. As he sped down the mountain, an enthusiastic crowd chanted his name. However, Miller said his focus was to ski his best race, wherever he happened to be. "I mean it was awesome to come into the finish and know that my family and my girlfriend and everyone were here. And I got to enjoy the experience too," he said. "But that was once I was down. While I was on the course and in between runs I was on my own program."

Miller's silver medal was also an historic achievement this is the first time an American skier has reached the podium in an Olympic giant slalom race. He also won the silver in the men's combined race last week. Miller is the only member of the U.S. Alpine skiing team to win a medal of any kind at the Salt Lake City Games.