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Athlete Profile: Bode Miller Hot

Bode MillerBad boy. Wild man. Supreme talent. American hope.

These are terms that have followed the enigmatic Bode Miller throughout his skiing career, sometimes for good reason and sometimes for show. But one thing is for sure when it comes to Miller, he’s anything but prosaic.

Raised in New Hampshire, Miller is a natural athlete, a success in many athletic arenas including soccer and tennis.

At age 21, he took alpine skiing’s world stage appearing in World Cup races and the Nagano Olympic Games for the first time. Miller steadily climbed the rankings for the next two years, waiting his turn to finally reach an international podium. That opportunity finally came in 2000 when Bode finished third in the giant slalom at the Val d’Isere World Cup event.

True stardom and universal fame was not far away, although Miller was forced to overcome a 2001 knee injury before that happened. Pushing the limits as only he knows how, the oft reckless Miller tore ligaments in his knee at the 2001 World Championships in the downhill competition.

Successful surgery and rehab followed, and Miller was given the green light to compete in 2002 – just in time for the Salt Lake City Olympics, where he dazzled the home American fans. Miller took dual Silver Medals in the combined and giant slalom races in Salt Lake City, officially putting himself in the limelight.

With his newly found fame came controversy away from the mountain. Although he won the overall World Cup title in 2005, Miller often found himself the target of media stories for his attitude and incidents.

He famously told 60 Minutes prior to the 2006 Olympics, that he often skied while drunk, partied hard and liked to be a slacker. Following up by asserting, he “also trained hard.”

At that stage of his career, Miller had become more famous for his spectacular crashes than for winning – commenting that his goal was to go as fast as humanly possible and not necessarily to win medals.

In Torino, he competed in five events and failed to medal in each, despite so much promise entering the Olympics. Miller fell out of grace with the media, Team USA and much of the American public. The stardom he had achieved in 2002 has dissipated into infamy.

Then after a semi-successful 2007 World Cup season, Miller announced he was leaving the U.S. Ski Team to race independently, yet still representing the United States. The move was fitting for Miller who has always bordered between fiercely independent and selfish.

Now skiing under his own flag, Miller took his second overall World Cup title in 2008. Nobody knows for sure if the move away from the U.S. Ski Team was the cause, but it seemed to work for Bode.

The 2009 season was just as bad as the 2008 season was good – it was literally Miller’s worst ever ski campaign and it seemed that light might have gone out on “Miller Time”. But, in his typical style, Miller shocked everyone in 2010 with a tremendous effort at the Vancouver Olympics. Earning gold in the super combined, silver in the super-g and bronze in the downhill, seemed to erase the bad feelings that had developed around Bode for years.

Back with the U.S. Ski Team, Miller once again became the fan favorite that he started out as when he first began racing.

Overall, Miller is the holder of five Olympic Medals, five World Championship Medals and 68 World Cup Podiums, including 32 wins, two overall titles and six discipline titles.

-Ryan O'Leary

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