Bode Miller targets return to racing next season
LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland (AP) — Bode Miller wants to continue racing next season at the age of 37, even if this campaign left him disappointed.
A third-place run in a World Cup super-G on Thursday typified Miller’s season: Fast and crowd-pleasing, but errors cost him victory.
“I’m frustrated and worn out right now but I think I have more to do in the sport,” Miller said. “I definitely am still competitive. If I can keep my body healthy then I think the plan is to race next year.”
Miller’s racing skills were clear when he became the oldest-ever Olympic Alpine medalist last month, taking bronze in super-G at Sochi.
On a steep and technically demanding slope Thursday, no one was faster than Miller’s speed check of 101.9 kph (63.3 mph).
Still, he came down 0.57 seconds behind surprise winner Alexis Pinturault, with another Frenchman, Thomas Mermillod Blondin, edging him by one-hundredth.
“I had probably two and half seconds, three seconds, worth of mistakes, in that run,” Miller insisted. “That is the way my season has been. I have had to deal with that.”
Miller took full responsibility for his race, and a World Cup season that has brought him four podium finishes but no addition to his 33 career victories.
“It has been such a frustrating time of so many near-misses and so many really bad, stupid mistakes that I can’t blame anyone but myself for,” he said.
That list includes his top priority races: The classic World Cup downhill at Kitzbuehel, Austria, in January and the Olympic downhill last month.
Miller finished third and eighth, respectively, when the best of his skiing was good enough to win, and his practice runs left some racers awe-struck.
Here on Wednesday, Miller’s final downhill performance this season followed the same pattern.
He led at the final time split — 0.30 faster than eventual winner Matthias Mayer of Austria, the Olympic champion — yet a mistake near the end took him wide into rough snow which slowed him.
“These errors aren’t little bobbles, they are like borderline catastrophic,” Miller explained. ”(Wednesday) I just got so broken down about halfway down the course I didn’t even care anymore. I wanted to stop. I didn’t even really tuck through the finish line.”
Even standing up straight, he still placed eighth just 0.62 back.
“I really wanted to change that today just because I think that’s not the way to race,” Miller acknowledged. “I just wanted to really stay focused to push every hundredth out of it that I could, even though I knew I was going to be out of the course a few times.”
“I felt good about battling through it,” said the veteran racer, who has started a total of 32 World Cup and Olympics events this season after sitting out a year to recover from knee surgery.
One incentive for returning strong next season is to race at the Feb. 2-15 world championships in front of home fans at Vail-Beaver Creek, Colorado.
That’s for next season, after the current campaign closes with a giant slalom on Saturday.
“Right now,” Miller said, “I feel like I don’t want to see ski boots for a little while.”