Eat your pasta, you’re going to need it
December 5, 2003
Pressure doesn’t apply to Bode Miller, unless it’s the pressure he’s feeling when he’s hammering down the mountain at 70 mph.
After the loss of teammates Erik Schlopy in Park City, Utah, though, two weeks ago and the probable loss of Marco Sullivan on Thursday after a crash during training runs for the Birds of Prey, more than ever Miller is being looked upon to carry the load.
Sprinkle in the fact that Miller is one of the favorites to win the overall World Cup title this year following two opening season giant-slalom wins and a runner-up finish last year, along with a huge corporate sponsorship from noodle magnate Barilla, which, in the past, has sponsored such big names as tennis queen Steffi Graf and skiing-legend Alberto Tomba, and it all makes for some pretty spicy pasta.
You feeling the heat yet, Bode?
“To think I’m making history is pretty obvious,” said Miller, Thursday night at a Barilla-sponsored press conference, when asked about whether he was aware of himself making U.S. skiing history by being the overall World Cup leader at this juncture. “Yesterday is history to me. At this point, I’m not really focused on anything beyond what I’m going to do, today or tomorrow. I’ve grown up with this stuff. So, for me, it’s going to be something I’ll look at when I’m 70 and I’ll be psyched about it.”
Miller skis like he’s terminal at times, and is even more cocky in front of a microphone at times than he is on the hill, both things which make him utterly appealling to the racing public and press, especially in Europe.
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But, as to whether he will be able to transcend the sport in the way legends such as Hermann Maier and Tomba have primarily depends on his success on the mountain, something that hasn’t been a problem so far this year.
“Sport is sport,” said Miller. “There are achievements, but then there is the element of sport in itself. It’s not just the results. There’s an attitude and a personality behind sport in general. Tomba was one of those guys. He had his positive points and his negative points, but he encompassed a certain element of sport in general, and that’s something I look up to.”
Miller was the first American to win on American soil since 1984, with his win in Park City, Utah, on Nov. 22. Coach Phil McNichol also mentioned that Miller’s early season march towards the title has sparked the Austrian team, the dominant force in World Cup skiing.
McNichol notes that Austria would prefer to keep things the way they have been.
“They’ve changed their approach, just to stop Bode,” said McNichol. “They’d prefer not to have an American win the overall. Skiing in Austria is huge. It’s very important to them, and it has shown with the success they have had over the years.”
Despite all the talk, all the hype, the only thing that really matters though is what happens on the hill – because for Bode that’s the only pressure he really knows about.
The rest is just make believe.
Nate Peterson is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 608 or via email@example.com.