A busy springtime for Bode Miller
Six weeks after the end of past season which brought him a few strong satisfactions such as another Super-G Crystal cup, Bode Miller already began to prepare the next one – his 11th on the World Cup circuit.
The quadruple World Champion in 2003 and 2005 made a dramatic move last week in deciding to race independently from the US Ski Team as Sweden’s Patrik Jaerbyn in recent winters. It was also the case for former US slalom champion Kristina Kosznick, who left the snow scene following the 2006 Olympics after racing most of her last seasons by herself, paying herself her own training and racing expenses. This will also be the case for Bode from now on.
“Bode decided to go independent but we will support him as much as we can considering his new situation,” explained USSA’s Marketing and Communication Director Tom Kelly on Saturday night.
“We don’t know yet how he will organize his training and racing program and who will help him on the slope,” added Kelly who also said that a cousin of the 2005 Overall World Cup champion, Liko Kenney, was shot dead by a passer-by after killing a policeman in New Hampshire. “
Miller decision is not a total surprise even though the skier from Franconia always said in past years that he enjoyed training and racing with his colleagues from the national ski team. The US American has 25 World Cup victories - two below Phil Mahre's U.S. record. Mahre was slalom Olympic champion in 1984 and a three-time Overall World Cup winner from 1981 to 1993.
Last winter, the talented yet stubborn Miller complained more than once that he felt mistreated by his team who obliged him sleeping in the official hotel of the ski team instead in his own motor-home which he only could use during the day.
“I measured my form during this winter with a special electronic tool and I found out that I slept much less in the small and mostly uncomfortable beds of our hotel than I used to in my van where I have a large bed and better food too. I’m convinced that it prevented me to produce my best skiing this winter,” he said a few days prior the start of the Are World Championships in February.
“As an allrounder who competed in all races, I certainly need special treatment in matter of recovering energy to be perfectly focused and ready prior each competition,” he added.
Last season, the US skiers also had to sign an agreement with their National Federation about not drinking any alcohol during the winter when celebrating good results with their staff. It was seen as a consequence of Miller’s sometimes provocative behaviour during the Turin 2006 Olympics when he was seen drinking beer in bars and clubs late in the night in company of models.
After the Games, Bode Miller also faced harsh critics from ski fans when he said that he enjoyed the Olympics despites failing to clinch a medal. He explained that he appreciated the possibility to socialize with people in Sestriere where he lived in his own RV located next to the vehicles of his team-mates Daron Rahles and Julia Mancuso.
Being independent will strongly change his life while training and racing next summer and winter.
He will have to pay his own trainers and also the use of training facilities on the slopes of the most popular resorts used by the teams to prepare themselves in New Zealand, Chile or on the European glacier. During the World Cup season, he is not supposed to receive any information from his former coaches directed so far by Phil Nichols and his private trainer will have to take care of all the details surrounding racing such as getting accreditations and bibs or fulfilling the entry form.
His points will count for the USA in the Nations Cup standings though and he can be qualified for World Championships (2009 Val d’Isère, France) or the 2010 Olympics – even though he already said last month that he is not planning to compete at Vancouver in three years.
It’s possible that Bode, who always said that he can decide at any time to pull out ski racing if he finds himself competing without pleasure, decided to choose this difficult solution to get back some momentum before retiring in 2008. He will turn 30 next November.
Jesse Hunt, the Alpine Director of the US Ski Team, wishes good luck to his former team-leader. “Bode is a great athlete and we hope he will continue to have athletic success,” Hunt said. "We had a serious discussion with Bode about his responsibilities as a Team member, and he later advised us he was choosing to not join the Team."