Bode Miller is leaner these days, about 20 pounds lighter than he’s been in quite a while.
His left knee no longer aches, either, which hasn’t been the case in nearly 12 years.
This is a new version of Miller training for the Sochi Olympics, one who will no longer simply attack downhill courses with a reckless abandon sure to either win him a race or send him flying.
No, Miller vows to be more strategic and tactical this season, especially with his surgically repaired knee – the one that sidelined him all of 2012-13 – finally fixed. Sure, he will still take risks – that’s simply part of his DNA – but those gambles will be much more calculated.
He’s also skiing in the memory of his younger brother, Chelone, a charismatic snowboarder who died of what was believed to be a seizure in April.
“I absorbed a lot of his energy when all that happened,” Miller said after a training session in New Zealand with the U.S. squad. “It’s tough. Real tough. It doesn’t ever go away. Everybody who knew him dedicates a part of the rest of their life to him.”
Just 18 months after microfracture surgery that could’ve ended his career, Miller is back on the slopes and feeling as fit as ever. He fully expects to be ready for the World Cup season opener in Soelden, Austria, in October and definitely back in customary Bode Miller form by the time Sochi rolls around in February.
“My skiing came back really quick,” said Miller, who has 33 World Cup wins, two overall titles and five Olympic medals on his résumé. “I’m feeling really, really good.”
The year away from skiing has almost been therapeutic for Miller.
Once he came to terms with it, that is. Then, he made the most of the break, spending time fishing off the back of his houseboat with his daughter, traveling with his wife, pro volleyball player Morgan Miller, and working on his golf game.
Miller believes he needed to slow down in order to rush down the mountain again.
“Felt great to have a break,” Miller said. “It was an excellent time. I definitely am ready to be back on snow.”
And anytime he steps into the starting gate, he’s among the favorites, even if he will turn 36 this season.
“He still has it,” said U.S. coach Forest Carey, who’s working directly with Miller and Ted Ligety.