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

Bode Miller
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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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Svetlana Romashina, seven-time Olympic champion artistic swimmer, retires

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Russian Svetlana Romashina, the most decorated artistic swimmer in Olympic history with seven gold medals, announced her retirement at age 33.

Romashina entered seven Olympic artistic swimming events and won all of them, starting in 2008. She won four Olympic titles in the team event and three in the duet (two with Nataliya Ishchenko and one with Svetlana Kolesnichenko).

The Tokyo Games marked her last major competition.

Romashina is the only woman to go undefeated in her Olympic career while entering seven or more events. The only man to do so was American track and field athlete Ray Ewry, who won all eight of his Olympic starts from 1900-08, according to Olympedia.org.

Romashina also won 21 world championships medals — all gold, second in aquatics history behind Michael Phelps‘ 26.

She took nearly two years off after giving birth to daughter Alexandra in November 2017, then came back to win three golds at her last world championships in 2019 and two golds at her last Olympics in 2021.

Romashina is now an artistic swimming coach, according to Russian media.

Russian swimmers swept the Olympic duet and team titles at each of the last six Olympics.

Russians have been banned from international competition since March due to the war in Ukraine.

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Mikaela Shiffrin, three gates from gold, skis out of world championships combined

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Mikaela Shiffrin was three gates from a record-tying seventh world championships gold medal when she lost her balance and straddled a gate, skiing out of the first race of worlds on Monday.

Italian Federica Brignone won the women’s combined instead, prevailing by 1.62 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener, the largest Olympic or world championships men’s or women’s margin of victory in the event since it switched from three runs to two in 2007.

Austrian Ricarda Haaser took bronze in an event that is one run of super-G followed by one run of slalom.

At 32, Brignone, the 2020 World Cup overall champion, won her first global title and became the oldest female world champion in any event.

“What was missing in my career was a gold medal,” she said. “So I’m old. No, I’m just kidding.”

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Shiffrin was sixth fastest in the opening super-G run, 96 hundredths behind Brignone. She skied aggressively in the slalom in a bid to beat Brignone. Shiffrin cut the gap to eight hundredths by the last intermediate split with about 10 seconds left on the course in Meribel, France.

Shiffrin looked set to overtake Brignone until tripping up slightly with five gates left. It compounded, and Shiffrin couldn’t save the run, losing control, straddling the third-to-last gate and skiing out. The timing system still registered her finish — 34 hundredths faster than Brignone — but it was quickly corrected to the obvious disqualification.

Asked on French TV if she lost focus, Shiffrin said, “People are going to say that no matter what.”

“The surface changed a little bit on these last gates, so [on pre-race] inspection I saw it’s a bit more unstable on the snow,” she added. “I tried to be aware of that, but I knew that if I had a chance to make up nine tenths on Federica, or more than that, like one second, I had to push like crazy. So I did, and I had a very good run. I’m really happy with my skiing.”

It marked Shiffrin’s first time skiing out since she did so in three races at last February’s Olympics, where her best individual finish was ninth in five races. At the Olympics, she skied out within the first 13 seconds in each instance. On Monday, she was more than 40 seconds into her run.

“I was thinking, now I’m going to go through the mixed zone. and everyone’s going to ask, ‘Oh, is this Beijing again?'” Shiffrin said. “I didn’t really think about that for myself, but more for the people asking. But I also said before, coming into this world champs multiple times, I’m not afraid if it happens again. What if I don’t finish every run? What happened last year, and I survived. And then I’ve had some pretty amazing races this season. So I would take the season that I’ve had with no medals at the world championships. If it’s either/or, then I would take that. I’m happy with it. But I’m going to be pushing for medals, because that’s what you do at world champs. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and you go for it. I’m not afraid of the consequences, as long as I have that mentality, which I had today.”

NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said what happened Monday was “completely different” from the Olympics, calling it “an error of aggression.”

“It certainly wasn’t nerves that sent her out,” Porino said on the Peacock broadcast. “This was Shiffrin knowing that she had to have a huge run to get the gold medal.

“The way she went out this time, I think she can brush that one off.”

Shiffrin was bidding to tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12). Coming into Monday, she earned a medal in her last 10 world championships races dating to 2015.

Her next chance to match those records comes in Wednesday’s super-G, where she is a medal contender. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel is the world’s top-ranked super-G skier through five races on the World Cup this season, though she was 71 hundredths behind Brignone in Monday’s super-G run.

Shiffrin has raced two super-Gs this season with a win and a seventh place.

She is expected to race three more times over the two-week worlds, which is separate from the World Cup circuit that she has torn up this season.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts across all disciplines since November, moving her one shy of the career victories record of 86 accumulated by Swede Ingemar Stenmark in the 1970s and ’80s. Again, world championships races do not count toward the World Cup, which picks back up after worlds end in late February.

Worlds continue Tuesday with the men’s combined.

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