Bode Miller‘s name no longer appears on the roster of the U.S. ski team. That doesn’t mean he’s retiring or won’t ever race again or that his chances of making a sixth Olympic squad have ended.
The situation is just hazy.
“I’m not going to say [Miller won’t be at the Olympics], because it’s Bode Miller,” U.S. men’s coach Sasha Rearick said by telephone. “Who knows? But my expectations of that aren’t high.”
The team announced its nominations Thursday for the 2017-18 World Cup season. The familiar names are all there — Lindsey Vonn, Mikaela Shiffrin, Julia Mancuso and Ted Ligety — with the official roster set to be released closer to November when the season starts.
But Miller is now listed as “alumni,” with his chances of making the Pyeongchang Olympics in February very much uncertain. He turns 40 in October and hasn’t competitively raced since severing his right hamstring tendon during a super-G crash at the world championships in February 2015 (video here).
To have a shot at making the U.S. Olympic squad, Miller will have to demonstrate his speed at World Cup races. There are no automatic spots.
“We’ve proposed to Bode several options for training and racing through the last year and especially this summer … in terms of trying to get him going again. The moving parts never lined up in the right way,” Rearick explained. “Bode and I have had a tremendous run over the years and when we commit to something together, we’ve been able to have a lot of fun working hard and trying to make the impossible happen.
“Right now, with where he’s at with his family, where he’s at with his equipment, where he’s at with other aspects of his life, we both didn’t have that same commitment to making a big run at this together.”
The door is always open, though. Should Miller want to step into a World Cup starting gate again, Rearick said he would give Miller that chance “without hesitation.”
“Bode Miller’s career has definitely earned him that opportunity,” Rearick said.
His resume includes 33 World Cup win, two overall titles, four world championships and six Olympic medals, including gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games in the super-combined.
These days, Miller certainly has a full plate. He’s big into horse racing, with Fast and Accurate — a horse he bought a stake in — finishing 17th at the Kentucky Derby. He has four kids, two with professional beach volleyball player Morgan Miller, and other business endeavors.
One thing behind him is a public spat with ski manufacturer Head. Miller ended his nearly 10-year partnership with Head in 2015 and signed an agreement to not use other skis in World Cup or world championship races for two years. He was attempting to get out of the remainder of the deal so he could race on skis by New York-based Bomber, which he helped develop.
At a fundraiser in Aspen, Colo., two months ago, he told the crowd his chances of a return this season were around “60-40.” But he quickly cautioned he would have to be the “most-fit guy on the hill. If I could do it and make it through the prep period, that’s a big piece of the puzzle.”
Seeing Miller return to racing wouldn’t surprise Rearick. Seeing him step away wouldn’t, either.
After all, this is Miller.
“Bode’s self-expression on the hill inspired millions and millions to love him and love U.S. skiing and love ski racing,” Rearick said. “I hope we can all remember those great moments.”
NOTES: Ligety (back) and Steven Nyman (knee) are quickly mending from surgery this year. Ligety should be full speed ahead by August and Nyman closer to October. … Rearick is looking forward to working again with John “Johno” McBride, who rejoins the U.S. squad as the men’s speed team head coach. Alex Hoedlmoser, who had the role, switches to the women’s side and will support Chris Knight in working with Vonn. Chip White also returns as the head women’s speed coach.
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