Bode Miller takes course as forerunner before training run
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) Bode Miller glided around a turn at a high rate of speed, caught some air and nearly lost one of his skis. Somehow, as he always seems to do, he avoided a crash and kept right on attacking the course.
And this was just a training run – with nothing at stake. Miller being Miller, he of course charged through a daunting downhill Wednesday, even if he was simply testing out the race hill.
Although he's taking a break from World Cup racing this season, the 38-year-old Miller served as a forerunner in Beaver Creek for one day only and wore a camera mounted to his ski pole. The six-time Olympic medalist even safely brought back the camera – barely.
Because Miller's version of playing it safe is a relative term. He appeared nearly as fast as ever in his return to a venue where he wiped out last February during a world championship super-G race and severed his right hamstring tendon.
''I couldn't go as fast as I wanted today,'' said Miller, who didn't have an official time in a training run where Norway's Kjetil Jansrud got down the mountain the quickest. ''But I might make a career out of being a professional forerunner, so I can run a buff course all the time.
''I know how to take risks. I'm better at managing risk than anyone else on the World Cup.''
No denying that. He's won 33 World Cup races and two overall titles with his risk-taking style.
While this was just a friendly meander down the Birds of Prey hill, he still wanted to see how he stacked up wearing new skis from Bomber, a company he's now collaborating with after a split from Head.
He charged, too. That is, until he hit some tiny ripples and almost wiped out. Then, he backed off a bit.
''I can't go out there and go crazy, because I'm not in that kind of form yet,'' Miller said.
When he passed the spot where he crashed last February, he wasn't intimidated. Didn't even give it a second thought.
''Because I've come back to places a lot of times where I've crashed,'' said Miller, who will also serve as a commentator for the races this week, beginning Friday with a downhill. ''I'm not too worried about it. That was a freak accident.''
U.S. men's coach Sasha Rearick was pleased that Miller returned. This could be a glimpse of things to come.
''I'd love to have him back and throwing down,'' Rearick said. ''It's good for the sport, good for the team and good for him. Having him come to the big events is good for everybody.''
As Miller has said in the past, a return to World Cup racing isn't out of the picture. Not likely this season, but possibly down the road and in a limited capacity.
''I don't commit to coming back. But I don't commit to quitting, either,'' Miller said in a phone interview before the training session. ''But I think that there's a good likelihood that I do a few races, because of the benefits of Bomber. It's going to be an exciting time with a new company.
''I think there's enough benefit for me inside of that, that it really is worthwhile. How it goes down, I don't know.''
That's because his family remains his top priority. He and his wife, pro beach volleyball player Morgan Miller, welcomed a son in May. She was watching from the sideline along with their toddler and Miller's other son from a previous relationship.
''The commitment for my family is pretty extreme these days,'' said Miller, who's also into horse racing and owns a barn full of promising thoroughbreds. ''But I can see doing some racing. I'm never going to do the full circuit again – that's way too time-consuming and demanding. I need to manage how that all goes down.''
Could he envision himself on a podium again?
''There's no question I have the ability to win,'' Miller said. ''There are young skiers out there who are fit and hungry and charging and that's the way it always is. The kids are good.
''But yeah, I have no doubt I can still be relevant. It's just a matter of managing it with the rest of my priorities.''