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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 16:20 GMT
Team USA's Sestriere sorrow
By Anna Thompson
BBC Sport at the Winter Olympics

Before the Winter Olympics began it was firmly believed the alpine skiing medals would be shared between two powerhouses - America and Austria.

But whereas Austria have kept their part of the bargain with three golds, three silvers and three bronze medals so far, America have just one.

It was a gold medal, courtesy of Ted Ligerty in the men's combined, but even that was a shock result.

Bode Miller crashes in the men's Super G in Sestriere
Hot favourite Bode Miller tumbled out of the men's super-G
Bode Miller, the defending World Cup champion and double silver medallist in Salt Lake City four years ago, was one of the hot favourites at the 2006 Games.

But his best result has been fifth in the downhill.

He straddled a gate in the combined, crashed into one in the super-G and was sixth in the giant slalom.

Miller, in fact, has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons in Sestriere.

He was seen drinking in a bar the night before the downhill and he has been leading the media a merry dance by refusing to do post-race interviews.

Veteran Daron Rahlves, looking for a swansong to his fine career, had been in great form this season, with three downhill wins, but he too slumped at the Games - finishing 10th in the downhill and ninth in the super-G.

It's clearly a disappointment for me to bring a team with medal potential only to fall on our faces
US men's head coach Phil McNichol
And the US women have fared even worse.

Lindsey Kildow, their main hope in the downhill, was involved in a spectacular crash during training. She did make the race but could manage only eighth.

She improved to seventh in the super-G but her team still remains medal-less.

With just the women's giant slalom and slalom to come, their chances are not looking good.

Rahlves' Olympics have ended disappointingly and Miller has one last chance in Saturday's slalom - not his favoured event - but he may not even compete in that.

He has been complaining of a sore knee and US men's head coach Phil McNichol conceded: "He's been having difficulty being prepared or being able to get the job done."

Lindsey Kildow
Lindsey Kildow fell heavily while training for the downhill
Indeed, McNichol knows his team have underperformed.

"It's clearly a disappointment for the guys, it's clearly a disappointment for me to bring a team with medal potential and fall on our face," he said.

"Now I have to strengthen myself for six months of answering, 'Why did you guys fail?'"

The US team will have to start rebuilding straight away for the 2010 Games, which are to be held in Canada.

Rahlves definitely will not be in Vancouver, and Miller is doubtful as he will be 32. So the new generation will have to come to the fore and fast.




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