Bode Miller wants contract voided with eye on comeback

Bode Miller
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Bode Miller is seeking to void a contract with his former ski sponsor restricting him from competing in the 2016-17 season, to potentially compete on different skis this season, according to court documents filed in California this week.

Court documents show a signed termination agreement dated May 2015 between Miller and Head USA, the company whose skis were formerly used by Miller, stating that Miller would not compete in World Cup or World Championships races until the 2017-18 season.

The complaint, filed Monday on behalf of the six-time Olympic medalist, states that Miller retired from ski racing after his last race at the February 2015 World Championships but has recently explored the possibility of coming out of retirement and competing this season. Miller crashed in his last competitive race, severing his right hamstring tendon.

After terminating his Head contract, Miller partnered with Bomber skis, though not originally to compete on them. Now, Miller wants the option to compete with Bomber.

“Since retiring from professional racing and no longer being as visible in the public eye, Bode’s ability to make money through endorsements has been greatly reduced,” the complaint read. “At the age of 39, Bode realized that his viability and marketability as a professional ski racer were rapidly dwindling, and that he needed to explore the possibility of coming out of retirement so that he could obtain quality endorsements to protect his family’s financial future. Bode discussed his financial concerns with [Bomber owner Robert] Siegel, and, in particular, the two discussed the possibility that Bode would return to racing in the 2016/2017 World Cup and World Championship season. … At age 39, it is likely Bode’s last real opportunity to competitively compete on the World Cup racing circuit and attract the lucrative endorsements needed to provide for his family.”

In recent months, Head has threatened legal action for breach of contract if Miller returned to ski racing this season using another company’s skis and has demanded that Miller announce by Monday that he will not compete in the 2016-17 season.

Although Miller is seeking to void his agreement with Head to potentially compete on Bomber skis, he has neither in widely reported comments stated that he retired nor that he definitively plans to race again.

In reported comments, Miller said in December 2015 there was “a good likelihood” he would race again but said earlier this month that he didn’t see “how it could possibly work.”

Miller is already the oldest U.S. Olympic Alpine skier in history. In 2018, he will be 40 years old, which is seven years older than the next-oldest U.S. Olympic Alpine skier in history.

The World Cup season begins Oct. 23 in Soelden, Austria.

VIDEO: Bode Miller’s crash in 2015 World Championships

Kelly Slater is trying to qualify for the Olympics at age 51

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On Dec. 19, 2019, Kelly Slater missed qualifying for surfing’s Olympic debut in Tokyo by one spot. It came down to the 11th and final event of the season-long World Surf League Championship Tour in a tight battle with his Hawaiian neighbor John John Florence.

At age 47, it appeared that surfing’s Olympic inclusion came just a bit too late for the greatest surfer in history to take part.

Slater continued to enter the sport’s other premier contests.

He opened the 2021 season with a third-place finish at surfing’s crown jewel, the Pipeline Masters on the North Shore of Oahu. But Slater then missed half the season, citing injuries to both ankles and his right hip. It was a reminder that every athlete succumbs to age — even if few have successfully fended it off longer than Slater.

Yet there Slater was last Feb. 5, being carried out of the water, raising his arms in triumph after winning his eighth Pipeline Masters title, six days shy of his 50th birthday and 30 years after his first victory. It was his first title on tour in nearly six years.

That win — which Slater called the best of his record 56 on the Championship Tour — also meant something more. Maybe, just maybe, he has enough left in the tank to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Slater made just one more quarterfinal in his remaining seven events last season. Still, he finished the year ranked 15th in the world and, more importantly for Olympic prospects, third among Americans.

Everybody starts from zero points again as this season opened Wednesday with the first rounds of the Pipeline Masters. The top two Americans per gender in the season-ending standings in September are likely to qualify for the Paris Games. The U.S. could get a third men’s Olympic spot if it wins next year’s World Surfing Games team competition (Brazil may be favored). It’s unclear what will determine which surfer fills that potential spot.

If he could only have one, Slater would take a 2024 Olympic spot over another win at Pipeline.

He is trying to become the oldest U.S. Summer Olympic rookie competitor in a sport other than equestrian, sailing, shooting or art competitions(!) in the last 100 years, supplanting Martina Navratilova (who was 47 in 2004), according to Olympedia.org.

“This will be my one chance [at the Olympics],” Slater said Saturday while promoting the upcoming season of “Make or Break” that premieres Feb. 17 on Apple TV+. “The next [Olympics] I’ll be 55 years old. I’m not going to be on tour by then. I did say that at 40, though, when I was talking about being 50.”

Slater, speaking on Wednesday’s opening day Pipeline broadcast, said he messaged Tom Brady after the NFL star announced his retirement (for a second time) earlier in the day.

“I don’t think there would be a player in the league right now that wouldn’t say that Brady can still win a Super Bowl right now, so it’s a hard carrot to dangle in front of yourself and not go for it,” Slater said. “I can relate to that after so long, but I love to surf, and this is the outlet for it, still. I feel that candle kind of burning out for me. That’s been for a while, but I think I’m just going to surf until it’s totally done, and I don’t really care at all about surfing a heat and want to be somewhere else.”

Slater is pumped for the 2024 Olympic venue: Teahupo’o,  a daunting reef break nicknamed “The End of the Road.” It is in Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia that is about 9,800 miles from Paris. It will break the record for the farthest Olympic medal competition to be held outside the host city.

Slater won there five times on the Championship Tour, the last in 2016.

“It’s one of the truly great challenging waves in the world,” he said. “If I can get on that team, I feel like I have a good shot at potentially winning a medal or gold medal. If that were the case, I will drop the mic and quit right then, but, you know, I got a lot of work to do between now and then.”

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Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone appears in ‘This is SportsCenter’ commercial

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Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone appears in an ESPN “This is SportsCenter” commercial that was published Friday and debuts on the network on Saturday night, after she races for the first time this year at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on NBC.

In the commercial, ESPN (and former NBC Sports) anchor Hannah Storm asks McLaughlin-Levrone if she has a minute to catch up.

McLaughlin-Levrone replies by saying she has 51.46 seconds right after lunch, 51.41 seconds later in the afternoon or 50.68 seconds right now. The numbers represent the last three times that McLaughlin-Levrone clocked when breaking the 400m hurdles world record.

McLaughlin-Levrone is scheduled to race the 60m at the New Balance meet in Boston, which airs on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock from 4-6 p.m. ET on Saturday.

The commercial first airs during the North Carolina-Duke men’s basketball game that starts at 6:30 on ESPN.

In the last two years, McLaughlin-Levrone lowered the 400m hurdles world record four times, winning the Tokyo Olympics and last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon. She brought the record down from countrywoman Dalilah Muhammad‘s 52.16 from 2019 to 50.68 at July’s worlds.

The 23-year-old said after last season that she wants to expand by adding the flat 400m to the 400m hurdles, but she has not yet publicly committed to racing it at the next major outdoor meet, the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Eugene in July.

For the first time, McLaughlin-Levrone has a bye into the 400m hurdles at the world championships in August, meaning she does not have to race it at USATF Outdoors. That could make the flat 400m more appealing.

Past “This is SportsCenter” spots included Olympians Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and Kerri Strug,

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