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 . world ski news
22 February 2010 - 11:14
Racing from the heart is working for Bode these days
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Last summer Bode Miller was hanging out on the beach, playing golf and spending time with his baby daughter, Dacey (who just turned 2). Ski racing was the farthest thing from his mind and he no longer even owned a pair of skis. Now he has three new Olympic medals.

The 32-year-old formerly known as skiing's renegade has reached a higher level since the last Olympics, not just in competition but in self actualization, and it seems his voluntary break from the sport last summer has a lot to do with it.

"I was pretty happy to be laying on the beach, enjoying time with my daughter, waking up and putting on sneakers rather than ski boots and playing golf," Miller said, adding that until he made the decision at the end of September last year to rejoin the U.S. Ski Team, he had virtually wiped the sport right out of his life.

"I literally left," he said. "I didn't train. I didn't have skis. I didn't have coaches. I didn't have a boot setup. No technician setup. I didn't own a pair of skis at all. In September, I had zero likelihood of racing this season."

But here he is. Back at the Olympics winning medals ... earning his place as the most successful U.S. Olympic alpine skier in history.

"To be 100 percent away from it like that is the only way you can have a clear look at what your'e trying to do," he said. "Once I started to readdress it and come at it fresh I saw that there were some areas [in which] I could still be viable in the sport."

One big way he's found to be viable is to show his teammates - and everyone, for that matter - that racing from the heart, laying it all on the line and going all-out is the only way to race.

And considering that "all out" is the exact motto of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, Miller is the best ring leader the organization could possibly have. USSA's own CEO Bill Marolt said as much, when asked about why he thinks Miller has made such a turnaround in this Olympics.

"Most of all it's a credit to Bode ... that he would take the time to figure this out and know that he could still make an impact on his sport and his team," Marolt said.

What's changed for Bode since the last Games? Well, then he was racing independently of the U.S. Ski Team and, in spite of being one of the favorites with outside pressure and expectations to walk away with five medals, he topped out with a fifth place in downhill and sixth in giant slalom.

"In '06 I didn't feel very happy with where I was at, being a favorite in five events. I wasn't interested in medals. As it got closer, I felt more and more trapped by what everyone was saying," he said. "You don't feel like you have ownership of your actions anymore. I wasn't focused on racing. I wasn't focused on enjoying my time. I was taking back my freedom. Here I came in, I made all my own choices. It feels better to own your results and your actions."

Miller believes that success - even in a physical sport like ski racing - is a simple matter of putting your mind to it.

"I got asked a question about why I've been able to come back and perform at this Olympics and I said most likely it's because it's what I decided I wanted to do," Miller said. "And when i was going into '06, it was not what I decided I wanted to do."

Unlike most Olympic athletes, Miller doesn't want to ski to win medals. He wants to ski to feel proud. Though a run to be proud of is usually a run that finishes on top, for Bode, that's beside the point.

"You want to be proud of what you've done," he said. "I want to have results where I come down and know I did something excellent."

And of course, Miller's medal-winning runs in super-combined, downhill and super G here in Whistler have certainly felt like something excellent to him ... but the medals are not what quantify that. It's because in these two races, Miller has been able to put all the tactical programming that's been ingrained in him through years of racing aside and simply race with his heart.

"It's an excellent race for me when I can let my ability go with my foot on the gas the whole time," He said. "Right now I'm faced with this conundrum of wanting to race with my heart and go all-out, but I have hundreds of thousands of runs under my belt of tactical experience and it's hard to ignore that. Coming into a turn, you know you're supposed to do these 10 things to make it so you don't go cartwheeling into the fence. It wrecks your heart and your feeling to simply go wide open.The fact is, in an Olympic race, even if it's a one in a hundred chance it will work, that's the most important time to do it."

Miller certainly knows that the downside of going all-out and wide open is that it does sometimes lead to cartwheeling into the fence. He pointed out that of the 400 or so World Cup races he's started, nearly half of them have resulted in crashes or missed gates because of exactly that. Though he probably didn't feel excellent about each one at the time, he now says he looks back on those races "with nothing but fondness and appreciation."

"I enjoy skiing a certain way," he said. "Hopefully it leads to medals. There is no other way to race."

Miller described his downhill race as "a celebration" because that's how he feels from start to finish when he's racing with his heart.

"I'm celebrating my ability to do that as I'm coming down, which for me is the most important celebration you can have," he said. "Because you're celebrating who you are and how you like to do things."

by Shauna Farnell
FISalpine.com
Sunday 21 February 2010


 
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Next:
Gold for Austria never in doubt – 22 February 2010 - 23:38
Germany's Ladies took Gold in Team Sprint – 23 February 2010 - 00:40
Norway sprints for Gold – 23 February 2010 - 01:42
Nissan Tram Face Squaw Valley USA Contest Day - 27 February – 23 February 2010 - 13:15
The Iceman gets GS gold, Norway dominates podium – 23 February 2010 - 23:53

Previous:
SCHMID (SUI) claims third Freestyle Gold for Switzerland in Men's Ski Cross – 22 February 2010 - 01:15
Miller finally captures Olympic gold in super-combined – 21 February 2010 - 23:21
Ski Jumping COC-M: Freund and Matura win in Brotterode (GER) – 21 February 2010 - 16:18
Hellner shines in 30 km Pursuit – 21 February 2010 - 01:45
Victory! Ammann equals Nykaenen's record – 21 February 2010 - 01:21

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