Bode trying to find the right skis for Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – Bode speaks.
After strictly avoiding interviews for two days, Bode Miller walked over to reporters in the finish corral after his downhill run Friday and opened up a bit.
He was cold, like everyone else at the races. He was tinkering with his equipment to adjust to the snow, which was unusually perfect for a World Cup stop. And was still trying to get back to full strength after rejoining the U.S. Ski Team this fall.
“I’d love (my fitness) to be better,” Miller said. “But that’s always the case, even when I’m fully strong here and fully prepared with a good prep period. I always wish I was stronger. There’s just a lot of fatigue that goes on.”
Miller, perhaps the best American ski racer of all time, did little conditioning over the summer and skipped the last part of the season last year to spend time with his new daughter. The two-time overall World Cup champion and 31-time World Cup winner had skied independently for two years following his divorce from the U.S. Ski Team in 2007. That separation came after Miller clashed with U.S. Ski Team officials over his late-night partying and controversial public statements.
The 32-year-old Miller has shied from publicity since his reunion with the U.S. Ski Team. Perhaps the most lengthy interview he has given this week was with students from the Eagle County Charter Academy, when, during an event with the U.S. Ski Team, he said he wants new socks and blueberry gum for Christmas – same as always – and hopes his post-ski-racing job will be just being Dad.
On Friday, the Franconia, N.H., native said his downhill run was “tough,” even as he posted the seventh-best time. He had switched to a 3-year-old pair of skis, trying to adjust to the snow conditions at the Beav’.
“I had a lot of unknowns going into today,” he said. “We changed the setup quite a bit. I was really bouncing around – a lot of the guys were bouncing around a lot yesterday. The snow is perfect. But it’s just we haven’t skied in snow (like that). You don’t get that very often. A lot of our setups were kind of strange on it.”
So far this season, Miller has posted forgettable results. He finished 29th and 39th in the downhill and super-G, respectively, in Lake Louise, Alberta. He did not finish in the slalom last month in Levi, Finland.
After his seventh-place run in the downhill Friday, Miller said he was confident going into the afternoon slalom portion.
“There’s a lot of good slalom skiers here,” Miller said. “(French skier Jean-Baptiste) Grange is just a little ways back, and the way he’s been skiing slalom is pretty impressive. I was skiing great in the prep period, and I think I could ski with any of those guys.”
Indeed, Miller led the race halfway down the slalom course. But he hooked a gate in the midst of a tricky hair-pin turn, which requires a quick change of pace. Miller fell forward, sliding on his stomach off to the side of the course.
He skied away, not to be seen again by the skiers, coaches – and, of course, reporters – in the finish corral.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or email@example.com.