by Amy Lignor
People know Bode Miller. They know him on the slopes and in the Olympics; they know him from a slew of other accolades. It seems odd – almost as odd as talking about Peyton Manning’s eventual retirement from the NFL – that Bode Miller may not compete in the next Winter Olympics. However, when you look at the interviews and see the glint in his eye, I have to say that Bode may just NOT have given his swansong in Sochi!
For those perhaps living in a cave with no cable, Bode Miller is one of those American athletes screamed for and admired by an entire country. A World Cup alpine ski racer, his list of accomplishments actually never ends. Olympic and World Championship gold medalist; two-time World Cup champion in 2005 and 2008 (overall), and inarguably the most popular, well-known and successful male American alpine ski racer in history.
When it comes to the World Cup realm, Bode owns thirty-three victories, and is on the short list (five in all) of being a man to win World Cup events in all five disciplines: slalom, giant slalom, Super-G, downhill, and combined…of course, we can go one step further: Bode is the only skier with five or MORE victories in each discipline.
The Winter Olympics has always been a showcase – a giant stage – for people to watch this man in action. All total (I add, “thus far”, because even though he was also successful in the medal run in Sochi, he may not be done at all), Bode has the most medals of ANY American skier, spreading them out over various years and various cities: three silvers; a gold; a bronze in downhill, and now a bronze for the discipline, Super-G, in Sochi can be added to his extraordinary trophy room.
Yes, Bode is now looking at his thirty-six-year-old body…not exactly as young as he used to be. I know, there are rolling of the eyes and people saying: ‘Gee, what a shame.’ But when you are an Alpine skier, who has done all this work since appearing out of the mist in Salt Lake City back in 2002 at the Winter Olympics, Bode Miller is looking at a body that may not be up to the challenge that his mind and heart and soul still want to compete for.
Last Wednesday, Bode finished 20th in his last Sochi Olympic race…however, that smile and that glint in the eye – recently seen on Stephen Colbert – still speaks to the fact that if the body can bounce back, the new burgeoning skiing stars of the Olympic Games may have to meet up with this legend at least one more time.
As a young man, Bode Miller took his shots; he also proved to be as brash as Joe Namath calling out his success before ever actually attaining his Super Bowl ring. But…as with Namath, Bode Miller became beloved by everyone in this country and will be the iconic level that others coming up behind him will be held to and judged by.
Being the first American skier to win three medals at one Olympics (Vancouver in 2010), makes him even more of an icon for the newest skiers, hopefuls and wannabes. Perhaps coaching is something Bode may want to take up when his body says: “Forget this, I want no part of skiing down this slope.”
Whatever happens in the future, whether Bode comes back or not, the one thing he should always remember is the love his country has for his performances, talent, and outright mastering of his ability to represent the ‘red, white & blue’ the best way possible.