Bode Miller
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Bode Miller says ‘a lot of pieces’ necessary for possible comeback

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ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — Bode Miller tucked his two young kids under each arm and raced down the hill, drawing quite a few quizzical stares from skiers.

“It shakes people up when you pass them – see kids in hands,” the decorated American skier said about a recent outing at Buttermilk in Aspen. “I was going fast, because I like to let them see what going fast is.”

When — or perhaps if — Miller speeds down World Cup courses again isn’t something he’s answering now. He hasn’t raced since severing his right hamstring tendon in a super-G crash at the world championships in February 2015 (video here).

He’s recently dealt with a lawsuit involving his former ski manufacturer. Turning 40 in October, Miller’s leaving the door ajar for a return, especially with the Olympics next winter in South Korea.

“There are a lot of pieces that need to come together,” said Miller, who will do NBC broadcast work this week at World Cup Finals. “Forty is not an advisable age to race World Cup speed. But my body is unbelievably healthy right now.”

At a recent fundraiser in Aspen, he told the crowd the chances of his return were “60-40,” which drew huge cheers. He called himself “skinny-fat” because he’s not in race shape. Once he commits, though, the winner of 33 World Cup races, two overall titles and six Olympic medals knows he can get in shape in no time.

“I’d have to be the most-fit guy on the hill,” Miller said. “If I could do it and make it through the prep period, that’s a big piece of the puzzle.”

He said the U.S. Ski Team is receptive to his return. He also added that his public spat with ski manufacturer Head is behind him — a judge dismissed a lawsuit Miller had filed against the company in December.

Miller ended his nearly 10-year partnership with Head in 2015 and signed an agreement not to use other skis in World Cup or world championship races for two years. He was attempting to get out of the remainder of the deal so that he could race on skis by New York-based Bomber, which he helped develop.

“At the time, I didn’t see myself racing — I didn’t want to make them annoyed. I love Head. I like those guys,” Miller said. “I could’ve skied with [Bomber] this year. It made it sound like I couldn’t. By the time everything came together, we weren’t really ready, either, because it was such a headache in the beginning.

“Now, it’s completely gone. No restrictions.”

He’s testing out new prototypes of downhill and super-G skis for Bomber, even heading over to the company’s factory in Italy to check out the design.

“The plate I’m designing, two little pieces and if they come together, it’s possible (to race again),” said Miller, who also is an equity partner and chief innovation officer for Aztech Mountain, a performance sportswear company. “I’m really happy with where my team is at.”

To stay busy, Miller is doing broadcast work and raising four kids, two of which he took skiing the other day.

“One of the best ski days I’ve had,” Miller said.

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Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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