With six medals, Bode Miller is America’s most decorated Olympic alpine skier. After undergoing surgery in February to repair a severed hamstring he suffered in a crash at the World Championships in Beaver Creek, Colo., Miller said he was leaning toward retirement. However, on Monday, NBC’s OlympicTalk interviewed the father of three in Manhattan to discuss a possible return to skiing and his two cents on the winningest woman in ski racing, Lindsey Vonn.
In true Bode style, the Olympian was in the Big Apple to gift his father a box of Jose Cuervo’s Reserva de la Familia. Here are the interview highlights.
OlympicTalk: You said after your World Championships crash, ‘I’m leaning pretty heavy towards not skiing anymore. Where do you stand now?
Miller: I’m certainly going to be a part of the sport and be involved with the [U.S.] ski team. The U.S. Ski Team hasn’t really utilized the experienced athletes the way they should have to perpetuate the success that’s been there. Right now we have a group of athletes who are, more or less, towards the end of their career — myself, Lindsey Vonn, Ted Ligety still has got some good years left in him — but I think they’re starting to understand that they need to incorporate that component in there to bring that next group of guys, the next generation, more or less, in and have them be able to transition onto the world stage and be successful. I believe that. I’ve helped them to try to understand that, and I want to try to activate that process.
So are you not going to try to ski competitively again?
We don’t have any plans yet. I certainly have the speed still to do it, which is good for me and exciting. But I have some different things going on business-wise that I’m excited about also, that I have to put some priority into. And my family is my top priority. I would say it’s unlikely that I race at least a full circuit this coming season because my son and my wife. Those are the things that I need to put energy into right now. You can’t really go halfway with World Cup ski racing. It’s just too dangerous to not be 100 percent committed to it. But, honestly, even though it sounds funny to most people, there’s a chance that I would commit to a season after this coming season and race. I still do love the sport. There’s a lot to give, still. But whether or not I race again at that level, I do think there’s a real responsibility to share some of my knowledge.
What do you make of Lindsey Vonn’s career?
What she’s done is incredible. She’s the best our sport has ever seen, man or woman. I don’t think that’s debatable, really. The only thing that she didn’t do was win in five events [she actually has, with two slalom wins, three giant slalom wins and five super combined wins]. When I knew her when she was young, she was best in slalom, and then she transitioned into the speed events. So I’ve seen her compete at every level, and I’ve seen how she approaches the sport and her level of intensity and her focus. She’s definitely one of a kind. That’s once in a generation, or less, when you see those people. When they stay around as long as she has, she has to be lucky, too, because she’s taken some wicked crashes. She got hurt, but she’s taken way more crashes than that where she hasn’t gotten hurt. That’s a remarkable accomplishment as well, because it’s a testament to her fitness and her mental fortitude.