Bode: Confident, controversial and blunt (or the usual)
BEAVER CREEK – It’s an annual rite at Birds of Prey in Beaver Creek.
The most-accomplished male American skier takes a training run and then briefly addresses the media. Call it The State of The Bode Address.
Wednesday, Bode Miller sounded confident, controversial and blunt, which is a good summary of the guy.
On the slopes, Miller looked sharp, finishing fourth, just 26-hundredths of a second behind leader Didier Cuche of Switzerland. Miller’s happy with the way the course ran Wednesday and is pleased that the races of Val d’Isere, France, have been moved here.
He agreed that training should have been scrapped Tuesday, but said that “there’s a bigger scheme going on there than what you’re laying out,” when asked about his role this week as the athlete-representative to the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury.
Miller dove right into the giant-slalom ski controversy which is engulfing the sport. Effective next season, GS skis will be required to have a larger minimum radius, meaning the skis won’t be allowed to be as shaply-carved as they are right now.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) says that change will make World Cup skiing safer. MIller, and many others on tour, including American Ted Ligety, who is not exactly a lightning rod for controversy, say that’s simply not the case and that the new ski rules will take a lot of speed and fun out of the discipline.
Miller implied that the athlete-representative position is essentially what amounts to a crumb for the skiers in compensation for FIS’s new GS rules.
“I think it’s an old traditional tactic of downplaying an opponent or in a negotiation scheme is to give them a little bit of power, which is what they’re doing with us, giving us athlete reps,” Miller said. “Like, ‘Oooh, that does zero.'”
MIller is no stranger to stirring things up. It’s generally been more newsworthy when he doesn’t throughout his career. Miller went into an analogy of FIS giving the skiers an athlete-representative, especially when it’s him for downhill and super-G, in light of the incoming rule changes like “pumping the tires” on what is essentially a broken-down car.
“Then they pump my tires or the athletes’ tires or the tires of the whole organization for setting that up and admiring how well that worked and how awesome and smooth (the GS rule changes are) and, all of a sudden, everything seems disarmed,” Miller said
He added somewhat jokingly that the analogy “might be a little too complex for you guys,” and got a chuckle out of the media assembled.
Whatever Miller’s opinions on GS skis, the Franconia, N.H., native seems to be skiing well in the early going of the season. The 34-year-old has finished ninth in the season-opening GS in Soelden, Austria, as well as in both speed races up in Lake Louise, Alberta, last weekend.
There have been several times when MIller has entered the early portion of the season not on his game, and, media and fans alike, have speculated whether he’s coming to the end of the line of his career. But that seems to be part of MIller’s modus operandi – he generally skis very well or very poorly.
That said, who’s to argue with success? Miller’s won more World Cup races than any American male and has accomplished everything that a skier can – the overall title (twice), several discipline globes (six), gold medals at Worlds (four) and Olympic gold in 2010.
Whatever happens this weekend, next week, for the rest of the season and in years to come, his place in skiing history is set in cement as an alpine legend.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.