Bode Miller says ‘good likelihood’ of comeback

Bode Miller
AP
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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

Chicago Marathon features Emily Sisson’s return, Conner Mantz’s debut, live on Peacock

Emily Sisson
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At Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Emily Sisson makes her return, nearly three years after Olympic Trials disappointment. Conner Mantz makes one of the most anticipated U.S. men’s debuts in 26.2-mile racing.

It is not the norm, but an American will be one of the spotlight runners in both the men’s and women’s elite races at a major marathon. Peacock airs live coverage at 8 a.m. ET.

Sisson, 30, starts her first mass marathon since dropping out of the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, 2020, her legs “destroyed” on the hilly Atlanta course where she started as arguably the favorite. She ran the virtual New York City Marathon later in 2020, but that was solo (and not in New York City). Her 2:38:00 isn’t recorded in her official results on her World Athletics bio.

Since, Sisson won the Olympic Trials 10,000m on the track and was the top American in Tokyo in 10th place. She moved back to the roads, winning national titles at 15km and the half marathon and breaking the American record in the latter.

Sisson vaulted into the elite group of U.S. female marathoners in 2019, when she clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in American history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow.

At the time, it was the 12th-best U.S. performance all-time. In the last two years, Keira D’Amato, 37, and Sara Hall, 39, combined to run seven faster marathons. At Chicago, a flat course that produced a world record three years ago, Sisson can answer them and perhaps get close to D’Amato’s American record 2:19:12.

“I’m hoping sub-2:20,” coach Ray Treacy said, according to LetsRun.com. “With the [super] shoes and the training behind her, I would think that’s [worth] at least three minutes.”

It is less likely that Sisson can challenge for the win on Sunday given the presence of Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, the 2019 World champion and defending champion in the Windy City. The 28-year-old mom is the fifth-fastest woman in history with a personal best of 2:17:08. And Ethiopian Ruti Aga, a podium finisher in Berlin, New York City and Tokyo with a best time of 2:18:34, though she has one marathon finish since the pandemic (a seventh place).

Like Sisson, Mantz has shown strong recent road racing form. The American men’s debut marathon record of 2:07:56 (Leonard Korir) is in play. If he can break that, Mantz will be among the five fastest U.S. marathoners in history.

Rarely has a U.S. male distance runner as accomplished as Mantz moved up to the marathon at such a young age (25). At BYU, he won NCAA cross-country titles in 2020 and 2021 and placed fifth in the Olympic Trials 10,000m, then turned pro and won the U.S. Half Marathon Championships last December.

“If everything goes as planned, I think sub-2:08 is realistic,” Mantz said in a Citius Mag video interview last month. “If everything goes perfect on the day, I think a sub-2:07, that’s a big stretch goal.”

The men’s field doesn’t have the singular star power of Chepngetich, but a large group of East Africans with personal bests around 2:05. The most notable: defending champion Seifu Tura of Ethiopia and 2021 Boston Marathon winner Benson Kipruto of Kenya.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined
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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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