Brother's death motivates Bode Miller for Winter Olympics
Bode Miller comes into his fifth Winter Olympics with a U.S.-record five Alpine skiing medals, a repaired left knee and the motivation of a family tragedy.
The 36-year-old will be one of only six Americans to compete in that many Winter Games. He will defend his Olympic title in the super combined and plans to race in at least three of the four other Alpine events.
The one-time bad boy of winter sports, who was shut out of the medals at the 2006 Turin Games while spending his evenings in nightclubs, is now a married father of two coping with the death of his 29-year-old brother, Chelone, from a seizure in April. Chelone Miller was a professional snowboarder.
"I was very efficient at creating emotional environments inside my head from a young age," he said. "If it comes to the Olympics, I may use that and channel that experience."
Miller, a four-time world champion and twice winner of the overall title in the season-long World Cup series, is known for a reckless style that has translated into wipeouts almost as often as winning runs.
His career seemed to stall in Turin, where he came in as a medal favorite in all five events -- the downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-giant slalom and combined -- and did not make the top-three in any discipline while telling reporters he had lost interest in winning medals.
Miller's best finish at those 2006 Games was fifth in the downhill. He failed to finish two events and was disqualified in another. In his final run, the slalom, he skied off the course in the opening seconds and raised his arms over his head in mock triumph while skiing down the mountain.
"Everybody parties, there's too much emphasis on winning," Miller said at the time.
He left the U.S. team in 2007 amid disagreements with officials about his training habits and public statements. He won his second overall World Cup title in 2008, and returned to the team the following year.
He took three medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics -- gold in the combined, silver in super-G and bronze in downhill. Now he's coming back after missing the entire 2012-13 season because of knee surgery.
His recent results have been encouraging -- he placed third in the downhill and second in the super-G in Kitzbuehel, Austria, on Jan. 25-26.
"My fitness is good, the skis are coming around," he told reporters in Kitzbuehel. "I'm hoping that I can put together my best skiing at the Olympics. I think if I do I definitely have the speed to win some medals."
Nordic skiing's Billy Demong is also competing in his fifth Winter Olympics. Nordic skier Todd Lodwick will set a U.S. record by competing his sixth Winter Games.