Published February 02, 2010
Get ready for a full dose of Bode Miller.
U.S. Ski Team men's coach Sasha Rearick said Tuesday that Miller plans to race all five Alpine events at the Vancouver Olympics. Miller's first event will be the downhill on Feb. 13, and he'll also compete in the super-combi, super-G, giant slalom and slalom.
A five-event schedule was not a given because Miller skipped summer training while he debated retirement and is still not in top shape after injuring his ankle during a team volleyball game in December.
But Rearick said the biggest challenge for Miller would be getting his equipment dialed in, not his fitness.
"I'm not so worried from the point of view of conditioning as much as I am that he hasn't had much time skiing, and the setups are still a challenge," Rearick told The Associated Press by phone from Park City, Utah, where the Americans are holding their pre-Olympic camp.
"That's going to be the biggest challenge — getting all those things set up. Right now in downhill he's going pretty good, and he knows what he's going on; slalom is getting close. But in super-G and GS we've got a lot of work to do. He's had no super-G training and no GS training, so that's going to be important these next days here."
There were questions over whether Miller would race the giant slalom because he has not scored a single point in the discipline on the World Cup circuit this season, whereas four other Americans have — Ted Ligety, Tommy Ford, Jake Zamansky and Tim Jitloff.
The U.S. squad gets four starting spots in each event. Ligety leads the World Cup GS standings and will be among the race favorites, meaning Ford, Zamansky or Jitloff risk sitting out.
Remember, at the Olympics the only thing that counts is winning a medal — there are no World Cup points to be had — and Miller is capable of finishing in the top three if he puts together two solid runs.
Rearick said Miller will get the giant slalom start based on his career record, which includes a silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, gold at the 2003 world championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, the 2004 World Cup title and nine World Cup race victories.
Miller has not won a giant slalom since a December 2005 race in Beaver Creek, Colo. His last podium finish in the discipline was a third-place result at Lenzerheide, Switzerland, in March 2007.
In the two giant slalom races he entered this season, Miller failed to finish his opening run in Beaver Creek and was disqualified in Alta Badia, Italy.
Rearick pointed out Miller's seventh-place result in the Olympic giant slalom test event in Whistler two years ago.
"He's got the experience," Rearick said. "He had a good race even though he wasn't in form in Vancouver the last time there."
Miller has gone three consecutive major championships without a medal, beginning with the 2006 Turin Games, where he made more headlines for his late-night partying than skiing.
After a slow start this season, Miller showed his potential again last month by winning a super-combi in Wengen, Switzerland.
"The only thing I'm expecting of Bode is to put down an inspiring run every single race. That's what I want to see him do," Rearick said. "Go out and put down the type of skiing that he's done all of his career and that has been inspiring to both himself, the fans and the coaching staff. That's what I'm looking for, and I expect that."