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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Chicago Marathon features Emily Sisson’s return, Conner Mantz’s debut, live on Peacock

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At Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Emily Sisson makes her return, nearly three years after Olympic Trials disappointment. Conner Mantz makes one of the most anticipated U.S. men’s debuts in 26.2-mile racing.

It is not the norm, but an American will be one of the spotlight runners in both the men’s and women’s elite races at a major marathon. Peacock airs live coverage at 8 a.m. ET.

Sisson, 30, starts her first mass marathon since dropping out of the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, 2020, her legs “destroyed” on the hilly Atlanta course where she started as arguably the favorite. She ran the virtual New York City Marathon later in 2020, but that was solo (and not in New York City). Her 2:38:00 isn’t recorded in her official results on her World Athletics bio.

Since, Sisson won the Olympic Trials 10,000m on the track and was the top American in Tokyo in 10th place. She moved back to the roads, winning national titles at 15km and the half marathon and breaking the American record in the latter.

Sisson vaulted into the elite group of U.S. female marathoners in 2019, when she clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in American history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow.

At the time, it was the 12th-best U.S. performance all-time. In the last two years, Keira D’Amato, 37, and Sara Hall, 39, combined to run seven faster marathons. At Chicago, a flat course that produced a world record three years ago, Sisson can answer them and perhaps get close to D’Amato’s American record 2:19:12.

“I’m hoping sub-2:20,” coach Ray Treacy said, according to LetsRun.com. “With the [super] shoes and the training behind her, I would think that’s [worth] at least three minutes.”

It is less likely that Sisson can challenge for the win on Sunday given the presence of Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, the 2019 World champion and defending champion in the Windy City. The 28-year-old mom is the fifth-fastest woman in history with a personal best of 2:17:08. And Ethiopian Ruti Aga, a podium finisher in Berlin, New York City and Tokyo with a best time of 2:18:34, though she has one marathon finish since the pandemic (a seventh place).

Like Sisson, Mantz has shown strong recent road racing form. The American men’s debut marathon record of 2:07:56 (Leonard Korir) is in play. If he can break that, Mantz will be among the five fastest U.S. marathoners in history.

Rarely has a U.S. male distance runner as accomplished as Mantz moved up to the marathon at such a young age (25). At BYU, he won NCAA cross-country titles in 2020 and 2021 and placed fifth in the Olympic Trials 10,000m, then turned pro and won the U.S. Half Marathon Championships last December.

“If everything goes as planned, I think sub-2:08 is realistic,” Mantz said in a Citius Mag video interview last month. “If everything goes perfect on the day, I think a sub-2:07, that’s a big stretch goal.”

The men’s field doesn’t have the singular star power of Chepngetich, but a large group of East Africans with personal bests around 2:05. The most notable: defending champion Seifu Tura of Ethiopia and 2021 Boston Marathon winner Benson Kipruto of Kenya.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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