BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) — Bode Miller being Bode Miller, he will of course try to go as fast as he can in a downhill training run Wednesday. Doesn’t matter if there’s nothing at stake since he’s only testing out the hill or that he’s hardly in ”go crazy” form.
That’s just the way he’s wired.
Although he’s taking a break from World Cup racing this season, the 38-year-old Miller said he will serve as a forerunner in Beaver Creek for one day only and wear cameras mounted on his helmet and ski pole. Quick disclaimer: The six-time Olympic medalist can’t fully guarantee the safety of those cameras.
Sure, he will play it safe, but safe to Miller is a relative term.
Don’t be surprised if his time is fast, either. He certainly wouldn’t be as he returns to a venue where he wiped out last February during a World Championships super-G race and severed his right hamstring tendon.
”There’s no question I have the ability to be fast. I have no doubt there,” Miller said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. ”I know what I’m capable of doing because I know how to take risks. I’m better at managing risk than anyone else on the World Cup.”
No denying that. He’s won 33 World Cup races and two overall titles with his risk-taking style.
While this is just a friendly meander down the Birds of Prey hill, Miller’s treating it almost like a race and has a plan of attack in mind. He will charge 100 percent up top because ”there’s no risk.” He’ll let the skis he’s using — Bomber Ski, a company he’s now collaborating with after a split from Head — do their thing. But then in the middle, when the course turns gnarly, he’ll ”take it easy” before cranking it up again.
”Very excited,” Miller said. ”But I know I can’t go out there and go crazy, because I’m not in that kind of form yet.”
When he passes the spot where he crashed last February, he said he won’t think twice.
”Because I’ve come back to places lot of times where I’ve crashed,” said Miller, who will also serve as an NBC commentator for the races this week, beginning Friday with a downhill. ”I’m not too worried about it. That was a freak accident.”
U.S. men’s coach Sasha Rearick can’t wait to see how Miller looks on the hill. He may just be super speedy, which could be a glimpse of things to come.
”I’d love to have him back and throwing down,” Rearick said. ”It’s good for the sport, good for the team and good for him. Having him come to the big events is good for everybody.”
As Miller’s said in the past, a return to racing isn’t out of the picture. Not likely this season, but possibly down the road and in a limited capacity.
”I don’t commit to coming back. But I don’t commit to quitting, either,” said Miller, who has said a 2018 Olympic appearance is “really unlikely.” ”But I think that there’s a good likelihood that I do a few races, because of the benefits of Bomber. It’s going to be an exciting time with a new company.
”I think there’s enough benefit for me inside of that, that it really is worthwhile. How it goes down, I don’t know.”
That’s because his family remains his top priority. He and his wife, pro beach volleyball player Morgan Miller, welcomed a son in May.
”The commitment for my family is pretty extreme these days,” said Miller, who’s also into horse racing and owns a barn full of promising thoroughbreds. ”But I can see doing some racing. I’m never going to do the full circuit again – that’s way too time-consuming and demanding. I need to manage how that all goes down.”
Could he see himself on a podium again?
”There’s no question I have the ability to win,” Miller said. ”There are young skiers out there who are fit and hungry and charging and that’s the way it always is. The kids are good.
”But yeah, I have no doubt I can still be relevant. It’s just a matter of managing it with the rest of my priorities.”