Bode Miller

Bode Miller strong in Val Gardena downhill; Canadian wins

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Bode Miller posted his best finish in three downhill races this season Saturday, his comeback campaign from major knee surgery.

Miller, 36, was fifth in Val Gardena, Italy, coming in behind a podium of three more skiers who recorded their best results in months or years.

“I’ve been skiing well,” Miller said, according to the U.S. Ski Team. “The fact is we just don’t have the whole thing together right now. We’re close, and we’re getting there.”

Canadian Erik Guay won in 1 minute, 56.65 seconds. The 2011 world downhill champion won a World Cup race for the first time since March 11, 2010.

Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud was second, .12 behind, his best World Cup finish since March 4, 2012. The Olympic silver medalist tore an ACL at the World Championships in February.

Frenchman Johan Clarey was third, matching his best World Cup result from Dec. 19, 2009. World Cup overall leader Aksel Lund Svindal was fourth.

Miller, a five-time Olympic medalist, continued to improve a day after taking eighth in a super-G. His best finish this season was second in a giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Dec. 8, but Miller is thought to be a better Sochi medal threat in speed events downhill and super-G.

Miller underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee Feb. 20, 2012, and missed all of the 2012-13 season.

“I skied pretty well, but it’s one of those courses where there’s not enough to it to bring it back in with my technical ability,” Miller said.

The men’s Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a giant slalom in Alta Badia, Italy, on Sunday. American world and World Cup giant slalom champion Ted Ligety is the favorite.

Val Gardena Downhill
1. Erik Guay (CAN) 1:56.65
2. Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) 1:56.77
3. Johan Clarey (FRA) 1:56.89
4. Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) 1:56.94
5. Bode Miller (USA) 1:57.04
6. Patrick Kueng (SUI) 1:57.28
7. Manny Osborne-Paradis (CAN) 1:57.45
8. Werner Heel (ITA) 1:57.51
9. Jan Hudec (CAN) 1:57.55
10. Peter Fill (ITA) 1:57.57
13. Erik Fisher (USA) 1:57.79
16. Marco Sullivan (USA) 1:58.08
19. Travis Ganong (USA) 1:58.41
38. Jared Goldberg (USA) 1:59.67
40. Andrew Weibrecht (USA) 1:59.84
48. Nick Daniels (USA) 2:00.50
DNF. Steven Nyman (USA)

Lindsey Vonn fails to finish Val d’Isere downhill

WATCH LIVE: Possible Olympic final preview in FIVB World Tour Finals — 2:30 p.m. ET

Alison, Bruno
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The World champions will play beach volleyball’s hottest team Sunday in an intriguing FIVB Word Tour Finals championship match and possible Olympic final preview, live on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra.

Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt established themselves as beach volleyball’s best team by winning every international tournament they entered this July and August, including the World Championship.

But the U.S. pair of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena has been the talk of the sport since partnering in July for the first time since separating in 2005. The duo has only entered five FIVB World Tour events this year, but they have made four finals.

“We don’t consider them to be a new team,” Bruno said. “They already play together so well.”

WATCH LIVE: FIVB World Tour Finals — 2:30 p.m. ET

There are many similarities between the pairs.

Alison and Dalhausser are both intimidating blockers. Dalhausser has been named the FIVB World Tour’s best blocker six times, while Alison was recognized in 2011.

In fact, Lucena called Alison “a thicker version of Phil.” Alison, who is known as “Mammoth,” has 35 pounds on Dalhausser, the “Thin Beast.”

Bruno and Lucena are speedy defensive specialists. Dalhausser called Bruno, nephew of Olympic basketball’s all-time leading scorer Oscar Schmidt, the world’s best defender.

“Bruno might be better than me,” Lucena said, laughing, “but I am taller.”

Both Bruno and Lucena are listed at 6-foot-1.

Dalhausser also compared to Lucena to Todd Rogers, his 2008 Olympic gold medal partner. Dalhausser described Lucena as “more explosive” than Rogers, who was named the FIVB World Tour’s best defensive player three times.

“Todd was super competitive, and Nick is the same way,” Dalhausser said.

Alison and Bruno and Dalhausser and Lucena split their first two meetings (not counting a recent exhibition on a helipad). They’ve played 209 points. Alison and Bruno have won 104. Dalhausser and Lucena have won 105.

Alison and Bruno won the first clash, 21–16, 20–22, 15–13 in the World Series of Beach Volleyball final in Long Beach, Calif., on Aug. 23.

Then Dalhausser and Lucena won Wednesday, 18-21, 21-16, 15-11 in a pool-play match that Lucena called “the most competitive match we’ve played.”

Dalhausser and Lucena, who are both from Florida, are counting on the heat to be a third teammate in Fort Lauderdale.

“We have to wear out the big guy,” Dalhausser said, referring to Alison. “We hope it’s 150 degrees, and we will serve him every time.”

The winning team will receive $100,000. It is the biggest international first-place monetary prize ever.

“They are the best team in the world,” Lucena said. “We want to change that and show what we can do.”

On the women’s side, Brazilians Larissa and Talita and Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst advanced to Sunday’s final. Larissa and Talita have won 10 of the 15 international events they’ve played since debuting in July 2014.

Three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings missed the World Tour Finals due to season-ending right shoulder surgery. Her partner, Olympic silver medalist April Ross, teamed with Lauren Fendrick this past week, and they lost in the quarterfinals.

MORE BEACH VOLLEYBALL: ‘Mammoth,’ ‘Magician,’ bring Brazil back atop beach volleyball

Usain Bolt returns to Oktoberfest, with Olympic Alpine skier

Usain Bolt
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Usain Bolt drank, danced and sang at Oktoberfest on Saturday, partying at the Munich festival for (at least) a third straight year.

This time, Bolt brought Germany’s best Alpine skier with him — World Championships slalom medalist Felix Neureuther. Bolt also brought Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt, the man who has helped the six-time Olympic champion sprinter get over recent injuries.

Here’s video of Bolt and Neureuther sharing a microphone to join in on a group song.

Here are Bolt’s highlights from past Oktoberfests: 2014 | 2013.

Bolt has been enjoying his offseason, having also partied with Lil Wayne in south Florida the previous weekend.

MORE USAIN BOLT: Watch Bolt lose at the Athens 2004 Olympics