Miller: I may give up my spot on the team
AVON — Returning to snow after back surgery, Bode Miller trained on the women’s World Championships course at Beaver Creek on Thursday and at the Golden Peak Race Arena in Vail on Friday.
On Nov. 13, Miller was training at Copper Mountain when he finally decided enough was enough with his nagging back. Four days later, he was being operated on for a herniated disk.
“I’ve been basically really sore and pushing really hard since then,” Miller said Friday. “Yesterday, up on the girls hill skiing GS, it was too much. … I was a tiny bit sore, got up today and managed to get through it, went up and skied on Gold Peak and skied some super-G, just freeskiing hard and fast, but it’s at least moderate enough terrain that I can control things and that was productive.”
Miller says his goal is to be healthy again for the World Cup races in Wengen, Switzerland, Jan. 16-18, and/or Kitzbuehel, Austria, Jan. 20-25.
SURGERY LIKE HIS SKIING
To make that tight deadline and maintain his classic Bode Miller fearlessness, the six-time Olympic medalist went with a more daring form of surgery. Along the way, he because quite educated about the process.
“A normal microdiscectomy comes in the back and kind of gets right in there, but they have to separate some of the connective tissue on the vertebrae,” he said Friday from Maya Restaurant in Avon. “It makes you a little less stable and the process is a little more demanding on your body, recovery wise.”
In the surgery method Miller chose, the doctor enters the body from the patient’s side, through a nerve hole near the hip.
“That makes it so he doesn’t have to separate any of the tissue, but also, I had to be awake for the surgery,” Miller said. “You have to tell him if it hurts too much, because he’s compressing that nerve. That’s your main sciatic nerve and if you damage that you lose feeling in your leg, so it’s a risky move.”
DOESN’T NEED A SEND-OFF
Now, nearly seven weeks out of surgery, Miller is feeling good about the recovery.
“I’ve been making that slow, steady progress that I was hoping for,” he said. “No major setbacks — that was the key — to make it through this first six weeks without any catastrophic setbacks.”
Now, if everything else goes according to plan and Miller regains his range of motion, we will likely see the superstar here competing in speed events at the at 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in one month (he says slalom and GS are off the table). If that increased range of motion doesn’t happen, though, that could be the end of ski racing for the 37-year old veteran.
“If I don’t race Wengen or Kitzbuehel or at least do the training runs in those two spots, or one of those two spots, and get myself up to speed and able to test things a little bit, I’m not sure that I would want to take a (World Championships) spot from a guy, even if they would put me in,” Miller said. “I don’t really feel like I need a send-off, if this is it, then I’ll talk to my wife and make a plan. And if my body feels good, then maybe I can keep skiing.”