Bode Miller
AP

Bode Miller says ‘good likelihood’ of comeback

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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.”

VIDEO: Bode Miller crashes in World Championships super-G

Mondo Duplantis, Sandi Morris miss attempts at pole vault records

Mondo Duplantis
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Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis and U.S. athlete Sandi Morris took turns attempting world records in the pole vault Wednesday at the Meeting d’Athlétsime Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais meet at Arena Stade Regional in Liévin, France, but both were unable to clear the bar.

Duplantis, aiming to set the world record for third time in February, had no misses leading up to his record attempts. U.S. vaulter Sam Kendricks, who has won the last two world championships, cleared 5.90m but dropped out after one attempt at 5.95m. Duplantis passed on that height, then cleared 6.07m to warm up for his shot at 6.19m, just shy of 20 feet, 3 3/4 inches.

Morris’ attempt to tie Jennifer Suhr‘s world indoor record of 5.03m from 2016 was more of a surprise. Morris holds the U.S. outdoor record at 5.00m but had never done better than 4.95m indoors. She won Wednesday’s competition with a clearance of 4.83m and asked to go immediately to 5.03m, or 16 feet, 6 inches.

Yelena Isinbayeva still holds the outdoor record of 5.06m, set in 2009. Morris is second on the all-time list and is the only athlete other than Isinbayeva or Suhr to clear 5 meters either indoors or outdoors.

In the men’s pole vault, Duplantis’ clearance of 6.18m Feb. 15 in Glasgow is the best vault indoors or outdoors.  Sergey Bubka still has the highest clearance outdoors at 6.14m. Bubka also held the indoor record of 6.15m for more than 20 years, finally losing it to Renaud Lavillenie in 2014. Duplantis cleared 6.17m Feb. 9 in Poland, then added another centimeter last week in Glasgow.

READ: Duplantis raises record in Glasgow

Duplantis, Lavillenie and Bubka are the only vaulters to clear 20 feet. Kendricks cleared 6.06m, or 19-10 1/2, last summer, the highest outdoor clearance by anyone other than Bubka.

Duplantis grew up in Louisiana and attended LSU for one year, setting the NCAA indoor (5.92m) and outdoor (6.00m) before turning pro, though he was upset in the NCAA final by South Dakota junior Chris Nilsen.

Also at Wednesday’s meet:

Ronnie Baker ran 6.49 seconds in the 60m semifinals and lowered that to 6.44 in the final, second only to Christian Coleman this season. Demek Kemp finished second and tied his personal best of 6.50.

Nia Ali and Christina Clemons finished 1-2 in the women’s 60m hurdles with identical times of 7.92. Ali is the reigning world champion and Olympic silver medalist in the 100m hurdles. She also won world indoor titles in 2014 and 2016.

Two Ethiopian runners set the fastest times of the season Samuel Tefera in the 1,500m (3:35.54) and Getnet Wale in the 3,000m (7:32.80). Wale was fourth in the 3,000m steeplechase in the 2019 world championships.

Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, racing in his home country of France, won the 60m hurdles in 7.47, second this season to Grant Holloway‘s 7.38 last week.

The World Athletics Indoor Tour ends Friday in Madrid. The world indoor championships originally scheduled for March in Nanjing, China, have been postponed a year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Susan Dunklee extends decade of surprises for U.S. biathletes

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When Susan Dunklee‘s time held up for second place in Friday’s 7.5km sprint, she became the first U.S. biathlete to win two world championship medals in her career and earned the sixth medal for the U.S. in world biathlon championship history.

Four of those medals have come in the past eight years.

First was Tim Burke, who had gained some fame among biathlon fans with his three World Cup podiums in the 2009-10 season and his relationship with German biathlete Andrea Henkel, who would win two Olympic gold medals and eight world championships before retiring and marrying Burke.

In that season, Burke led the World Cup briefly but faded and didn’t do well in the Olympics. But in 2012-13, he finished 10th in the World Cup overall and ended the American drought in the world championships, finishing second in the individual behind dominant French biathlete Martin Fourcade, who won his 11th non-relay world title Wednesday in the individual.

In 2017, Dunklee became the first U.S. woman to win a non-relay medal, taking the lead in the mass start after quickly knocking down all five targets in the last shooting and holding on for second. She didn’t come out of nowhere, having taken a few World Cup medals. That season, she ranked 10th overall in the World Cup.

Then came the stunner. Lowell Bailey, who had just one World Cup podium in a long career coming into the 2016-17 season, had bib 100 in the individual, a spot usually reserved for non-contenders. But he hit all 20 targets, always important in a race that penalizes athletes one minute per miss, and gutted it out through the last lap to keep a 3.3-second advantage and win the first world championship for a U.S. biathlete.

Like Dunklee, Bailey earned his medal in the midst of a strong season. The individual was won of his four top-10 finishes in the world championships, including a fourth-place finish in the sprint. He wound up eighth overall in the World Cup.

Bailey and Burke each stuck it out to compete in their fourth Olympics in 2018, then crossed the finish line together in their final race at the U.S. championships.

This season is their first in management. Bailey, also a bluegrass musician, is now U.S. Biathlon’s director of high performance. Burke is director of athlete development.

Dunklee, on the other hand, isn’t done. Her results slipped a bit after her 2017 breakthrough, but she has had some top 10s. When she shoots clean, as she did Friday, she’s a contender.

The first U.S. medal was in the first women’s world championship in 1984, when Holly Beatie, Julie Newman and Kari Swenson bronze in 3x5km relay. Swenson also finished fifth in the individual that year and returned to compete in the next two world championships after a harrowing experience in which she was abducted and shot, a story that inspired a film starring Tracy Pollan.

The only other U.S. medal in the world championships before Burke, Bailey and Dunklee was Josh Thompson‘s individual silver in 1987. The only athletes other than Burke, Bailey, Dunklee and Thompson to have World Cup podiums (excluding relays) are Jeremy Teela in 2009 and Clare Egan, who was third in a mass start last spring and is competing in the world championships this year.

U.S. Paralympians broke through with two gold medals on the first day of competition in the 2018 Paralympics.

READ: Kendall Gretsch, Dan Cnossen take gold

Wednesday saw another surprise finish for a U.S. biathlete. Leif Nordgren, whose career-best finish outside the relays is 16th, was the only athlete to go 20-for-20 on the shooting range and placed eighth in the individual.

The championships continue through through Sunday with the single mixed relay on Thursday, the men’s and women’s relays on Saturday, and the men’s and women’s mass starts on Sunday.

WATCH: World biathlon championships TV schedule

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