Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Associated Press
Bode Miller is known for his aggressive nature on the slopes, a hold-nothing-back approach that's led to plenty of success and spills.
But when it comes to his surgically repaired left knee, Miller will hold back and take a much more cautious route, especially with the 2014 Sochi Olympics just around the corner.
Miller has elected to skip the remaining portion of the World Cup season, along with the world championships, to give the knee more time to heal. The two-time overall champion had microfracture surgery nearly a year ago and doesn't want any sort of setback with the Olympics -- his last one, he said -- so close. Because another injury probably would end his career.
Still, it's a little strange without Miller heading to the starting gate. He's missed a few races in his career but hasn't sat out a full year since his debut in 1997.
"It was tough for me to miss a season of ski racing, but this decision was easy for me when I look at my opportunity next year," the 35-year-old Miller said in a press release Wednesday. "I have said many times that motivation is a key trait for me when it comes to my racing -- I am super motivated to do great things next year."
Miller has been successful doing things his way, on his terms. That gambler's mentality has served him well, leading to five Olympic medals -- including that elusive gold at the 2010 Vancouver Games -- four world championships and 33 World Cup wins, an American men's record.
U.S. Coach Sasha Rearick applauded Miller's decision. He wants Miller healthy in a year, not skiing on the circuit just for the sake of skiing on the circuit.
"It's an incredibly smart and strategic decision," Rearick said. "He's become legendary for pushing the limits of what's possible on skis, but knows an additional injury to his knee could put the 2014 Olympics in jeopardy. At this point he's not fully recovered to race and has turned his focus to being 100 percent fit for Sochi."
Since he's not on the circuit, Miller may take advantage of a unique opportunity: In exchange for allowing their skiers to squeeze in early-season runs at the U.S. Ski Team's speed center, the Russians are inviting some Americans to Sochi in February to train.
"I think a big part of his focus this year is the training block in Sochi, where he will be there for the two weeks and more," said a teammate, Ted Ligety. "It's not like he's not skiing."