BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Bode Miller being the ever-confident Bode Miller, he fully believes he could still race and be right in the mix.
About this, he has no doubt. Especially here, in Beaver Creek, where officials named a section of the course after Miller during a ceremony Saturday.
It’s just that at 40, and with four kids, he doesn’t have the time to train or the desire to take the necessary gambles in a race anymore. He’ll leave it to the younger generation as he settles into his next career in the broadcast booth.
And just to be absolutely clear: There will be no comebacks. He’s retired. For good, he insisted.
“Official,” Miller said. “I’m no longer an athlete of any sort.”
His ambition now is to be just as entertaining in an analyst’s role as he once was on a race course. He takes a similar approach in the booth, too, finding a conversational path, not really sure where it’s going to lead sometimes, before ultimately winding up with a strong finish.
“I wasn’t surprised by how easy it felt for me to be in there talking about skiing,” said Miller, who will work for NBC at the Pyeongchang Olympics. “I thought I would box myself into some corners and stumble around more than I did. … I love skiing. It’s been my life. It’s fun to be able to take the pressure off of me, enjoy it for what it is as a spectator.”
He departs as one of the most decorated American skiers in history, with 33 World Cup wins, two overall titles, four world championships and six Olympic medals, including gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games in the super-combined.
Miller’s schedule remains as frenzied as ever. He makes meals for his kids — ages 1, 2, 4 and 9 — along with helping to shuttle them to swimming, softball, tennis and hockey activities. He also is into horse racing and owns several promising thoroughbreds.
In between, he’s getting up to speed for the upcoming Winter Games.
Any early favourites to keep an eye on?
“The U.S., more than any country on the planet, is known for producing incredible results from guys you couldn’t have predicted,” Miller said. “The Olympics always come down to some portion of luck playing a factor. So at the end of the day, you have to put yourself in a position to be there and do everything you can and hope from there.”
Before the downhill race Saturday, he had a part of the Birds of Prey course — a particularly gnarly section — dubbed “Miller’s Revenge.” He has won four World Cup races on this hill.
Miller wasn’t the only one to receive such an honour. Daron Rahlves had an upper section named “Rahlves’ Roll.” Rahlves was a two-time winner at Beaver Creek, including in 2005 when he held off Miller by 0.27 seconds.
Rahlves and Miller once helped usher in a new era of U.S. skiing.
“The team started to see we could compete and were going to compete at the world level,” Miller explained. “As soon as that belief starts to go through the team, and saw not just me doing it — I think a lot of people discounted me as an anomaly — but when Daron was doing it regularly, it became contagious for the other athletes. We all believed we could do it. That has lasted all the way through to now. It’s going to be a question mark of how it moves from now.”
Morgan Miller called her husband stepping away a “bittersweet” moment.
“I love watching him race. It was really inspiring,” she said. “For the kids, to see their father work at that sort of level and do what he loves, is amazing.
“But it’s dangerous. It’s scary. I’m feeling much better about him not racing anymore.”
The perilous nature of the sport hit home last month for Bode Miller and rest of the ski community with the death of French racer David Poisson, who was killed during a training accident in Canada.
“Every time you’re out skiing, training, anything, you’re risking it,” said Miller, who hasn’t competitively raced since severing his right hamstring tendon during a super-G crash at the Vail/Beaver Creek world championships in February 2015. “You’re rolling the dice. Come up with a wrong roll and you don’t walk away from it. I’ve walked away from crashes I have no business walking away from.
“You have to be willing to commit a lot to ski racing. Now, I’m doing other things, watching my kids. I don’t feel a need to take risk.”
– Pat Graham, The Associated Press
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