No American man has taken to the Olympic skiing slopes as successfully as Bode Miller.
The five-time Olympian has won five Olympic medals — a record for a U.S. man in alpine skiing — and has often done it with flamboyant style.
“I have said many times that motivation is a key trail for me when it comes to my racing,” Miller said prior to the start of this season. “I am super motivated to do great things … and I know 2014 will be my last Olympics.”
Now 36, Miller is coming off his best Olympic showing: He won three medals at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, including the gold medal in men’s super combined.
Miller is expected to compete in the first of his Olympic events Feb. 9, when the men’s downhill is held at Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort. Ranked No. 6 in the world cup downhill standings, Miller is considered a medal contender.
He posted the fastest time in his opening downhill training session, clocking 2 minutes, 7.75 seconds down the Rosa Khutor piste, the same place where he injured his left knee two years ago during the Sochi test event.
“Unfortunately they don't give you medals for training runs,” Miller told reporters. “If they did, I would be psyched today. But it certainly doesn't hurt to come out here and ski well first run. I just have to keep trimming time.”
Following the downhill is the men’s super combined Feb. 14, super-G on Sunday, Feb. 16, giant slalom Feb. 19, and slalom Feb. 22.
Since missing the 2012-13 World Cup season with a knee injury that required surgery, Miller has come back strong. After finishing runner-up to Olympic teammate Ted Ligety for a 1-2 American finish in a world cup giant slalom race in Beaver Creek, Colo., the two rivals shared a big smile on the podium stand. It was the first time since 2009 that two American men had shared a world cup podium. And it was the first time in eight years that two American men had gone 1-2 in a world cup giant slalom.
“It’s cool having Bode back,” Ligety said on NBC Sports Network after the finish.
Miller is ranked eighth in 2013-14 World Cup overall standings, trailing only No. 4 Ligety among U.S. skiers.
Miller’s speed can dominate, and that’s what he’ hoping for in Sochi. His 33 world cup victories are the most by an American male. A two-time world cup overall champion, Miller also has won world championships in downhill, super-G, giant slalom and super combined. But the most recent was nine years ago.
And that is why Miller’s performance in the 2010 Winter Games was so remarkable. He didn’t medal in any events at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games during his well-documented party days, then responded with triple medals in Vancouver, including his first Olympic gold medal.
Once known for his wild personal style, Miller is now the married father of two. In October 2012, Miller married professional volleyball player Morgan Beck, who will be on hand to watch him in Sochi.
Adding to his motivation in Sochi will be thoughts of his younger brother, Chelone. A professional snowboarder, Chelone, died of a seizure in April. According to Bode, Chelone had hopes of competing in Sochi.
Pretty soon, Bode will be taking some Olympic runs of his own, and he’s pretty optimistic about his chances.
As Miller told reporters after his opening run: “My confidence is never really my issue.”