January 25, 2014 Updated: January 25, 2014 at 3:41 pm
KITZBUEHEL, Austria — Bode Miller is starting to believe he might never succeed in the one race he'd love to win.
After a mistake midway down the mountain pushed him into third on Saturday, Miller wondered if the classic World Cup downhill on the Streif course won't appear on his impressive list of career victories.
"I am 36, how many times have I come here?" Miller said. "A lot of times I've come in here ready to win and thinking that I had a good chance and came away with not a win. It's not the first time I've blown a race I had really expectations for. It's tough."
On the other hand, Miller reached his first downhill podium in almost two years — just two weeks before the Sochi Olympics. He sat out last season because of knee surgery.
"The year away was obviously difficult," Miller said. "I am trying to catch up to the guys who had an extra season to adjust to the equipment changes that we've had. Now I feel good. I have been progressing through the season.
"It was this (race) what I was gearing up for. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform."
Miller came close to winning four times on the Streif, one of the most demanding courses on the World Cup circuit. It has a frighteningly steep start and several tough jumps and sharp turns. He finished second in 2008 and '11, and fourth in '06 and '09.
Miller dominated Thursday's training session, leaving his rivals in awe with a risky yet fast race line nobody matched. On Saturday, Miller failed to reproduce his near-perfect run.
"I got high-sided and rotated and just slid sideways on an almost perfectly flat place around that big turn," he said. "It's a really painful place to make a mistake."
Miller said he knew immediately he had "just wasted another opportunity," and got so frustrated he briefly thought about quitting the race all together.
"I almost probably didn't finish the race after that because I was so bummed out," he said. "I wanted to break gates."
Miller, who was the 11th starter, still led the competition after he finished. His time was beaten by overall World Cup leader Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who on his turn lost the lead to winner Hannes Reichelt of Austria.
Miller's disappointment was not so much about failing again to win here, but about making avoidable mistakes.
"It's not even so much beating the other guys, but skiing the course the way it's meant to be skied," he said. "That obviously is my No. 1 goal."
U.S. men's head coach Sasha Rearick said Miller "has been skiing better, better, better" during his comeback season.
"He's been skiing fast in terms all year," Rearick said. "Bode has been building and working hard. Bode has always been a hard worker, he's just never been consistent."
The coach said he was impressed with Miller's drive ahead of the Olympics, saying he's "figuring things out with the setup, figuring things out with his skis, figuring things out where he can make speed. That's inspiring."
After getting three podiums in Vancouver four years ago, Miller said he expected to be in the running for medals again in Sochi.
"I generally have enough speed to win the races I am in," Miller said. "On race day you have to execute and not make mistakes and that seems to be a real challenge for me.
"Obviously I am hoping I put together my best skiing at the Olympics. If I do, I definitely have the speed to win some medals."