Bode Miller’s world championships over after violent crash
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) — Bode Miller’s world championships are now over. His career? On hold for the moment.
Miller underwent surgery to fix a torn right hamstring tendon when his ski appeared to slice him after a gruesome crash in a super-G race Thursday.
The injury is supposed to sideline the 37-year-old for at least two months.
Might be longer. Maybe even for good.
The six-time Olympic medalist was on the fence about a return to ski racing next season long before the crash. He had back surgery in November and his aim was to return in time for worlds.
He did. But in his first race this season, he wiped out. A bad wipeout, too.
Miller’s not the kind to return to the World Cup scene simply for a farewell tour or anything. That’s not his style.
“If this is it, then I’ll talk to my wife and make a plan,” Miller said last month after squeezing in some training at Beaver Creek to test his back. “If my body feels good, maybe I keep skiing?
“I’ve had a remarkable run and put my body through so much. To expect it to come back again and not run into the same things you see 21-, 22-year-old kids running into? I’m not delusional.
“It’s a risk.”
On the course, he’s all about risks. And for the first half of his race Thursday, he was vintage Miller.
“Bode was skiing outstanding,” U.S. men’s coach Sasha Rearick said. “He was going for it.”
Then Miller’s left arm hooked a gate, sending him spiraling out of control. Both of his skis popped off and he rolled head-over-ski-boots down the hill.
After coming to a stop, he slowly got up, gathered his skis, clicked back in and finished his run, even with a deep gash on his leg.
He waved to the crowd, perhaps one final nod to the fans who’ve always rooted for him because of his gambler’s mentality.
“Bode is an exciting racer to watch,” teammate Ted Ligety said. “He knew he had to put it on the limit in order to get on the podium today. ”
This is the second straight world championships in which the Americans have lost a big name.
Two years ago at worlds in Austria, Lindsey Vonn tore ligaments in her right knee after a crash. She missed the 2014 Sochi Olympics following a second knee operation, but was able to return to the slopes this season and recently broke the all-time women’s record for most World Cup wins.
There may not be a comeback quite like that in Miller’s future, though with him, anything is possible.
Here are things to know heading into a women’s downhill race Friday, with Vonn — of nearby Vail — the crowd favorite:
MOVING TRIBUTE: Before the super-G on Thursday, there was a moment of silence for two U.S. Ski Team prospects killed in an avalanche in Austria last month. There were green-painted signs honoring Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19, saying, “Ski in Peace.” The tributes touched Berlack’s father. “Bryce and Ronnie were two bright stars and sometimes the bright stars leave the night sky first,” Steve Berlack said. “That’s just sadly what happened here.” Sam Morse, a good of Ronnie Berlack, was one of the forerunners for the race and skied with “RB” and “BA” stickers on his helmet and with his friends on his mind.
REICHELT’S COURSE: Hannes Reichelt of Austria loves this hill. His first-ever World Cup win was a super-G race at Beaver Creek in 2005. He won another super-G event here in December and now a world title Thursday. “I said, ‘OK, you have to repeat the success of December,’” Reichelt said. “To repeat something is so difficult.”
JANSRUD UPDATE: Much like Miller, Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud banged his arm on a gate. He didn’t fall, but the mistake cost him time as he finished tied for fourth. He also hurt his shoulder, but the Norwegian team said the Olympic super-G champion in Sochi should be OK for the downhill Saturday.
COOL BREEZE: While wind was a factor in the women’s super-G earlier this week — blowing several skiers off track, including Vonn — the forecast is calling for minimal gusts at the time of the downhill race. Anna Fenninger of Austria proved aerodynamic in winning the super-G. She will be a favorite Friday, along with Vonn, Lara Gut of Switzerland and Tina Maze of Slovenia.
MAKING FRIENDS: Maze had a fast training run Thursday, finding the right line. Her secret? “Finally, I became friends with this slope,” said Maze, who tied Dominique Gisin of Switzerland for the Olympic downhill gold medal in Sochi.