Winter Olympics: Five-Time U.S. Olympian Skier Bode Miller Finds Peace for Sochi [Video]
By Allyson Burger | BSU at the Games
Samuel Bode Miller has won more major races than any other American male alpine skier in history.
The 36-year-old New Hampshire native is heading into what may be his fifth and final Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. While some critics see Miller as past his prime, Miller knows how to make a lasting impression on the slopes, skeptics be damned.
“I have so many more of the pieces in place now to make me feel solid and capable of putting together the exact performance I’m going to need on a given day in a race,” he said.
Known for his wild style and often portrayed as reckless, Miller has won five medals in the last four Winter Olympic Games, and is a two-time World Cup overall champion (in 2005 and 2008) with 33 World Cup race victories.
Miller says this could be the best season he has ever had. He says and that his body and mind are in a better state than ever in terms of strength and harmony brought on by his coaches, his recovery and his family.
The two met at one of Beck’s tournaments in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Beck said she made her husband work hard for their first date.
She turned a determined Miller down every day of the tournament until at her last match, when he walked up to her and said, “I don’t want to freak you out, but we’re soul mates.”
Turns out he was right. Within a month and a half of meeting, Miller had already bought an engagement ring.
But the Millers’ life is no fairytale. Bode and Morgan Miller have faced their share of hardships and tests of faith.
Bode spent the past year tangled in two custody battles with former girlfriends for rights to a son born in February 2013 and a 5-year-old daughter. Also, Morgan Miller suffered a miscarriage last January while pregnant with the couple’s first child together.
Just months after the loss, he suffered another heartbreak in April when his brother, Chelone Miller, 29, was found dead.
A professional snowboarder, Chelone Miller was found unresponsive in a van in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., following an apparent seizure possibly related to a traumatic brain injury from a 2005 motorcycle accident.
Chelone, nicknamed “Chilly,” was a top contender for the Winter Olympics, focused on making it to Sochi with his older brother in 2014.
“He loved life so much; it made him easy to be around,” Miller told The Ski Channel just days after his brother’s death.
That has Bode bringing a piece of his brother with him to Sochi.
He says he has had some unusual energy in competition since Chilly’s passing, calling it a little bit of his brother’s “life force.”
Leaving a legacy
Miller will be 40 years old by the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
So, there is talk surrounding the possibility of this being his last shot at another Olympic medal.
With that discussion has come the talk of his legacy in ski racing, but Miller doesn’t seem too concerned or consumed by it. He says you don’t get to pick your legacy because it is a compilation of the good and the bad.
“I’ve made plenty of mistakes, I’ve done tons of stupid shit; I’ve had plenty of awful races, and I’ve had a bunch of really amazing races,” Miller said. “And I really wouldn’t change anything about" my career.
Medals have never been a motivation of Miller’s.
His mind works more similarly to that of the most-decorated U.S. athlete in the history of the Winter Games, speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, who says there is no greater satisfaction than knowing he put everything into a race and a given goal.
Miller says the medals hanging from his neck are not what he judges himself with at the end of the day. Instead, it is the processes, experiences and his overall performance that are what satisfy him. His love for the sport and its integrity are most important to him.
“It’s not so much about my legacy as it is about ski racing in general,” Miller said. “Ski racing deserves what you can give to it.”
A new start
The image of a smiling, happy Miller seems a far cry from the Bode seen prior to the past two Olympic Games, such as before the 2006 Torino Games when he admitted to skiing “wasted.”
This seems to be a new and improved Miller, one on a mission to make a comeback, be remembered and disprove skeptics.
Miller says he is just happy to be where he is.
His goal for Sochi?
"Just kick ass," he said.