VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- The hockey teams from Canada and the United States provided a hint Sunday of the kind of drama yet to come in the Olympics.
For Bode Miller, however, it was all about the present.
Miller staged an enormous comeback Sunday to become the first American ever to win three alpine medals in the same Olympics. This one, however, was extra special.
For the first time in a career that has had its highs and lows, Miller became an Olympic champion.
He won the super combined for his fifth career medal, rallying from a seventh-place finish in the downhill to turn in a sensational slalom run that only added to the achievements of a U.S. alpine team that is threatening to become the best in the world.
"I was on fumes," he said. "It has been mentally and emotionally exhausting. I had to dig deep and get fired up for this race because it was my best chance to win.
"I had to get up to take maximum risks. But I can't ask for anything more."
The American team hockey team, meanwhile, is hoping for a lot more even though the youthful squad took a huge step forward Sunday.
In its final Group A game, the Americans produced a thoroughly unexpected 5-3 win over Canada.
The outcome gave the United States first place in its group, clinched a quarterfinal berth and silenced the crowd of hockey-mad Canadian fans who had come to the arena Sunday fully expecting a win.
Canada can still take home the gold medal, but to get to the quarterfinals it must first defeat Germany in a playoff game Tuesday.
Another Miller -- American goaltender Ryan Miller -- outplayed Canada's Martin Brodeur, who has more victories and more shutouts than any other goalie in NHL history.
"To get a win here is outstanding for this group," Miller said. "We are a young group. We have to not get too high, but we have something to launch from here."
As the middle weekend of the Vancouver Olympics came to an end the United States still had the medal lead with seven golds and 24 overall. Germany, however, made a move Sunday with four medals -- two of them gold.
German Andre Lange set an Olympic record with his fourth gold in bobsled, driving to victory in the two-man event. Another German, Magdalena Neuner, won her second gold and third overall in these Games by capturing the biathlon mass start race.
Ireen Wust of the Netherlands surprised two Canadian favorites to win the women's 1,500-meter speed skating race and Michael Schmid of Switzerland became the first Olympic champion in freestyle skiing cross. Bode Miller's gold was the only medal won by the United States Sunday, but it was a big one.
There have been seven alpine events contested thus far in the Olympics and the United States has won at least one medal in all of them. The eight alpine medals for the Americans are three more than a U.S. ski team has ever won in a single Olympics.
In addition, U.S. skiers Ted Ligety, Will Brandenburg and Miller turned in the three fastest slalom runs in the second portion of the combined. And in the final combined standings, there were four Americans among the top 11.
Bode Miller will go after another medal Tuesday in the giant slalom.