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.
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.Follow @nzaccardi