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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Cyclist in induced coma after Tour of Poland crash

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Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was put into an induced coma Wednesday after suffering injuries in a crash on the final stretch of the Tour of Poland, organizers said.

A massive crash at the finish of the first stage resulted in Dylan Groenewegen‘s disqualification from the race.

Leading a bunch sprint, Groenewegen veered toward the right barrier, pinching countryman Jakobsen, who barreled into the barrier meters from the finish line.

Jakobsen went head over heels, his bike went airborne and the barriers exploded onto the road, causing more cyclists to crash.

Jakobsen was airlifted to a hospital in serious condition and was put into an induced coma, the Tour de Pologne press office said.

Groenewegen crossed the finish line first but was disqualified, giving Jakobsen the stage win, according to the stage race website.

Groenewegen, a 27-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider, owns four Tour de France stage wins among the last three years.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) “strongly condemned” Groenewegen’s “dangerous” and “unacceptable” behavior. It referred Groenewegen’s actions to a disciplinary commission for possible sanctions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to a Russian media quote confirmed by Phil Hersh.

The ISU has not confirmed or denied Lakernik’s assertion.

Most, if not all, top-level U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada. That makes the first two Grand Prix stops — Skate America and Skate Canada — likely destinations. Grand Prix assignments have not been published.

“I appreciate the ISU is open to adapting competitive formats and is working to give athletes opportunities to compete,” Evan Bates, a U.S. ice dance champion with Madison Chock who trains in Montreal, wrote in a text message to Hersh. “This announcement gives reassurance that the ISU is doing their best to ensure a season will still take place. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen, and we’re not sure about what country we would compete in. It would probably depend on what the quarantine rules are at that time.”

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, who cannot enter the senior Grand Prix until 2021.

Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement that it will have more details on the Grand Prix Series in the coming weeks after collaborating with an ISU-appointed group.

“This is a great example of the figure skating community coming together to ensure that the world’s premier figure skating series will continue during these challenging times,” the statement read. “Figure skaters want to compete and figure skating fans from all around the world want to see their favorite athletes skate, and this format will ensure just that.”

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