SESTRIERE, Italy — The Olympics ended for Alpine skiers Saturday with the Austrians winning three more medals and Bode Miller straddling another gate.
This has been the theme, more or less, of the mountain experience.
Austria wins gold; Miller free-skis back to his recreational vehicle.
In sum, Miller finished 0 for 5 in Olympic events and made some of his sharpest turns getting back to his rig.
An Associated Press reporter chased Miller down to his motor home after his final Olympic flameout and Miller had a different take.
"It's been an awesome two weeks," he said. "I got to party and socialize at an Olympic level."
So there you have it.
Austria won its 12th, 13th and 14th medals of the Turin Games by sweeping Saturday's slalom event.
And Bode Miller had a good time.
Benjamin Raich earned a second gold medal -- he earlier had won the giant slalom -- with a two-run time of 1 minute 43.14 seconds.
And Miller said, "I'm comfortable with what I've accomplished."
Reinfried Herbst, an Austrian pup at only 18, claimed the slalom silver.
And Miller told the AP, "The expectations were other people's."
Rainer Schoenfelder added a slalom bronze to the bronze he'd won for Austria in the combined.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
It wasn't even a good exit-stage-right night for Ted Ligety, the combined gold medalist, who straddled a first-run gate and was disqualified in his best event.
"I still have one gold, so I'm not so mad," Ligety said.
In the final Olympic Alpine act, Bode busted out and Ligety split.
So what happened?
The U.S. Alpine team was touted as its "best ever" with officials targeting eight medals as a goal.
When you added it up, though, put all the ski wax on the table, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Assn.'s campaign of "Best in the World" came up 20 gates short.
"Best We Could Do," was more like it.
Austria, the real "best in the world," leaves with 14 medals.
Sweden had four; the Swiss three.
One family in Croatia, the Kostelics, had three here, with Janica winning gold and silver and brother Ivica earning a silver.
And the U.S. had two.
In a state-of-the-Alpine team interview conducted with selected reporters before Saturday's men's slalom, USSA chief Bill Marolt said the "spark" he was looking for to ignite the Alpine team "just didn't happen."
Marolt refused, however, to criticize Miller.
He did say of overseeing the Bode Show, "I won't deny it, it's been a challenge."
Marolt admitted to being disappointed with the Alpine performance but "not discouraged by any stretch of the imagination."
Miller was seen by many as the face of the U.S. campaign -- bold, brash and ready to rock in Turin. He graced the covers of Time and Newsweek and was touted as a potential multi-medal winner at these Games.
Marolt denied, however, that the U.S. was riding any Miller wave into the Olympics.
"He has put \o7himself\f7 out front with his results," Marolt said.
Truth is, America was sold last year's Miller, the World Cup overall champion, not the Miller who won only one World Cup race this year and failed to finish five of his seven slaloms. Not the Miller who looked sluggish, was brilliant only in spurts, the guy whose most amazing moment at Turin was skiing on one ski while saving himself from potential injury after crashing into a gate in the super-G.
Privately, a few U.S. coaches are fed up with Miller's often impish independence, yet no decision on Miller will be made until Marolt and the racer have a "heart-to-heart" conversation at the end of the World Cup season next month.
It is unclear whether Miller will remain with the team, quit skiing, continue on his own or form his own ski circuit.
Marolt said he would not discuss personnel issues with the media.
Miller became more known in Sestriere for his alleged late-night exploits. He was photographed making an obscene gesture while he had an arm around a Playboy playmate.
He finished a respectable fifth in the downhill, .11 of a second from a bronze medal, and tied for sixth in the giant slalom. He failed to finish two races -- the super-G and slalom -- and was disqualified from the combined for straddling a gate in a race he was leading by .97 of a second.
When Miller made comments on "60 Minutes" that he had "skied wasted," Marolt flew to Switzerland to extract an apology.
Saturday, though, Marolt appealed to the skier's artistic eccentricities.
"He's been a remarkable performer," Marolt said. "He has an interesting personality. Like all great performers, they all have strong personalities, they all have quirks and they're not easy to manage."
Marolt got emotional when he spoke of watching Miller ski the downhill in Wengen, Switzerland:
"I was standing on that downhill and you see that big horse coming at you, in full tuck, you're damn glad he's on your team."
Marolt sincerely felt for Daron Rahlves, a hard-working veteran who seemed poised to cap his career with a downhill medal.
Rahlves finished a disappointing 10th, ninth in super-G and then exited his last Olympics by skiing out in giant slalom.