0

Bode on future: Changes need to be made to men's U.S. ski team before I decide

Photo by BEBETO MATTHEWS

Photo by BEBETO MATTHEWS

NEW YORK -- Known for taking risks when he's racing, skier Bode Miller is taking a cautious approach as he decides whether to retire.

That means making sure he's on the same page as the U.S. Ski Team.

"The team makes a big difference, the U.S. Ski Team, in regards to what they're going to do, where their funding is at," said Miller, who doesn't expect to decide until the team's preseason camp in August. "Even philosophy and stuff, what they're going to do next year. Because that makes a big difference for me.

"Obviously, it's been an issue for a lot of years. That's why I started my own team partly. ... They have some good stuff going on, but when it really comes down to nuts and bolts it has not changed at all really. Because it was the way it was, I just powered through it and got to the Olympics."

Miller won gold, silver and bronze at the Vancouver Olympics, helping U.S. Alpine skiers to a record haul of eight medals overall.

That's probably why U.S. men's head coach Sasha Rearick is willing to listen and made it clear that he wants Miller back on the team.

"I take all the comments from all the guys and try to apply them. I want to make our team better," he said. "We want to see Bode ski racing and part of our ski team family."

Rearick said the 32-year-old Miller, a two-time World Cup overall champion who also won two silver medals at the Salt Lake City Olympics, has knowledge and leadership the team can use.

"He can challenge everyone to get better. He has experiences the young guys can learn from. When he trains, he trains harder than other guys," Rearick said. "That's the kind of leadership we need, to show how hard you need to push yourself to achieve greatness in skiing."

The U.S. success at the Vancouver Games was a big turnaround from the 2006 Turin Olympics, where the Americans fared poorly, with Miller becoming the poster boy for underachievement. He finished only two of five races, placing no better than fifth after coming in with a lot of hype, and gained a reputation for caring more about night life than skiing.

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

Miller credits that time away from skiing for his success at the Vancouver games.

"The mental aspect, the feeling of being happy and healthy and in a really nice place with my life, I felt that was much better than in Torino," said Miller, who was making an appearance Friday in New York for watchmaker Hublot, one of his sponsors. "I was not really that excited about going to Torino.

"This last year I had chance, I was away from the sport, I had the chance to kind of start over fresh. So when I got there this year I really felt happy, I was excited to be there and I was ready to really to push it."

When he does retire from competitive skiing, will he miss it?

"I'm not one of those. I'll be fine," he said. "My uncle is super competitive and tells me, 'You're going to freak out when you quit.' But I'm just not the same way.

"When I stop I'll stop happy, and I'll be fine doing whatever else I want to do."