Olympic gold medalist Bode Miller submits contract to US Ski Team, opening door for his return

By Pat Graham, AP
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bode Miller submits contract with US Ski Team

DENVER — Olympic gold medalist Bode Miller may not be ready for retirement just yet.

Miller’s return for another season on the slopes appears almost imminent after he signed and submitted his contract to be a member of the U.S. Ski Team.

U.S. men’s coach Sasha Rearick told The Associated Press he has chatted with Miller and that the two-time World Cup overall champion is “jazzed up” about skiing. Miller even tried to talk Rearick into an early start to the August training camp in New Zealand.

“We’re excited to have him,” Rearick said in a phone interview. “He’s done great things for this sport, for the ski team, for ski racing. It’s fantastic for everybody.”

His signing was first reported by Ski Racing. A message was left with Miller’s agent, Lowell Taub.

Miller captured gold, silver and bronze at the Vancouver Olympics, bringing his career total to five medals.

However, he remained uncertain about returning for the 2010-11 World Cup season, taking the summer to ponder his future.

Miller’s tilt toward a return doesn’t surprise Rearick.

“He’s a great ski racer and will continue to be a great ski racer,” Rearick said. “He’s very passionate about skiing. We’re excited to have Bode ski racing.”

Since Vancouver, Miller has been mostly taking it easy, hanging out with his young daughter, soaking up the sun in San Diego and lending a hand for an occasional commitment.

He has also dabbled in tennis, taking part in a U.S. Open qualifier in Honolulu. Miller didn’t meet with the same kind of success on the court he typically finds on the mountain, losing his opening match.

On his stage, Miller does things his way, straddling the line between control and chaos. He’s a high-risk, high-reward skier with a gambler’s mentality.

That definitely served him well in Whistler, when he claimed three medals — gold in super-combined, silver in super-G and bronze in downhill. He has also won 32 times on the World Cup circuit flying down the course with little worry about wiping out.

The tactic, though, has led to plenty of spills, scrapes and second-guessing. He never apologies for his go-for-broke style.

“I’m taking more risk than everyone else,” Miller said after failing to finish his first run in the giant slalom at the Olympics, when his attacking nature cost him. “I am willing to deal with the consequences, when a lot of guys aren’t willing to deal with those consequences, so they don’t take the risk.”

Even though Miller will turn 33 in October, Rearick doesn’t think his age will be a factor.

Rearick believes Miller’s experience will only benefit him next season if he returns, pointing to the recent success of Switzerland’s Didier Cuche, who won five races last season at 35.

“Skiing is a sport of skill and the older guys do have that advantage. They have more experience on the hill,” Rearick said. “You can compete into the mid 30s. It’s about can the body hold up? Bode’s in pretty good health.”

Miller broke away from the U.S. team in 2007 and skied independently for two seasons, then took time off last summer to recharge his batteries before rejoining the U.S. squad in October 2009.

This time, he may not wait that long for a return. Rearick said Miller is already eager to get started.

Miller’s far from alone.

Recently, some of the ski team members met up for a hockey camp, working on slapshots instead of slalom, defensive drills as opposed to downhill techniques.

Ted Ligety, Marco Sullivan and Erik Fisher assembled on the ice. They’re joined by a crew of up-and-comers such as Thomas Biesemeyer, Nolan Kasper and Will Gregorak.

“I’m really excited about the team as a whole,” Rearick said.

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