It’s put up or shut up in Bode’s world
Cocky? Maybe. Hardheaded? Probably. But can Bode Miller back it up?
Miller, 26, of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team doesn’t really care what people think about him and the way that he skis. All he really cares about is where he is standing at the end of the day.
And, after a season-opening win in the giant slalom in Soelden, Austria on Oct. 25, there aren’t many people that would refute his reasoning.
Bode knows podiums.
“In my opinion, it’s results that really do most of the talking.” said Miller, in an interview at Beaver Creek on Wednesday. “People are critical when you don’t have results to show and they’re not critical when you’re winning. I’ve never really been that concerned with what anyone says. That’s never been an objective for me is to look like I’m not out of control or to look different, or to look the way people want me to.”
Miller had been hounded throughout his early career for being too reckless, too much of a risk taker who couldn’t seem to put together complete runs and was too stubborn to gear down.
“I’ve always erred on the side of taking too much risk in skiing, especially up until now,” said Miller. “I think that’s one of my biggest strengths. I think most of my confidence comes from an understanding of myself and my sport. That’s just it. If you don’t take risks, you can’t do well. There’s not a time where your racing at World Cup level and you’re going to win where you’re just cruising. Usually, when I was crashing, it was for one reason or another.”
Sometimes, those reasons were that Miller was just to stubborn to play it safe – to lay up, instead of going for broke. There were times, he admits, that he would boast to his coaches to try and find someone who could ski the six gates he just went through faster, even though he crashed on the seventh.
But, after finishing fourth in 2002 and second last year in the overall World Cup standings behind Austria’s Stephan Eberharter, the best finish by a U.S. man since 1983, Miller seems to have put his critics to rest, and hypothetically, put the tag of a Russian rouletter behind him.
Now, in his eighth year on the team, he’s looking for another one – World Cup Champion.
“The overall title is not something that you just go out and win one day. You have to win lots of races or be competitive all season long,” said Miller. “It’s all about each individual race. I know some guys put more emphasis on the World Championships or the Olympics, but those are just single races also. Obviously, the overall is a goal that I’ve been shooting for, for the last two years, and I’ve gotten closer and closer. Hopefully, this will be the year for me.”
The men’s team is currently training at Beaver Creek as it prepares for the slalom and giant slalom competitions in Park City, Utah next weekend, the next stop on the World Cup circuit. After a resounding win in the Soelden giant slalom, where he not only had the best overall time, but the two fastest runs of the day, Miller is hoping to maintain his momentum in his two strongest events.
All six of Miller’s World Cup wins have come in the technical events, with three in GS and another three in slalom.
“I’m healthy. I’m feeling much stronger,” said Miller. “It’s just like any sport. The development is just continuous. It pretty much builds on itself from year to year. I think, definitely, my technique has improved. I’ve been on better skis basically every year that I’ve been racing World Cup. The physical stuff that I do is all pretty strategic. It’s not just random stuff. I either find out that I have a weakness through my racing or I don’t change anything. If I feel great when I’m racing, which I never do, then there’s no reason to change anything. It’s pretty obvious if I’m tired at the bottom, or I’m getting sloppy making errors. Then, I need to have a little bit more endurance. For me it’s pretty self-explanatory.”
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.