WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — It was his apparent neglect for the Olympics that pushed many people to turn away from Bode Miller in Turin four years ago. Yet Miller has now revealed that it was the lure of the games that brought him back to skiing.
Miller cut short last season and debated retirement over the summer before deciding on a full-fledged return in September.
"The Olympics played a pretty important role in that decision," Miller said Wednesday as he prepares for his fourth games. "If it was just a regular season I probably would have taken the season off and re-evaluated next year."
Miller said he was motivated by the thought that by starting his preparations so late — September — he would be peaking just in time for the games.
"If I started then and worked and hammered through it would be something new and exciting and I would be peaking in February," he said "It sort of sorted itself out rather than me making any conscious decisions about it."
Miller failed to win a medal at the 2006 Turin Games after entering as a heavy favorite in multiple events, making more headlines for his late-night partying than his skiing.
The two-time overall World Cup champion also failed to gain a medal at the last two world championships. He races all five events on the grueling World Cup circuit and usually wears himself out by the time Olympics and world championships roll around nearly each February.
"I'm coming into these games in a unique position of still getting stronger," he said. "I'm psyched. I'm ready to win."
Miller struggled to find the time to get his equipment dialed in as he hurried into the season. After a pre-Olympic camp in Park City, Utah, he indicated he has everything sorted out.
"I think we're ready to compete for medals in all five (events)," he said. "It's going to take really good skiing, but that's nothing unusual. I think if I ski well in every event I have the speed to be on the podium."
Miller placed seventh in the opening downhill training session Wednesday, 0.98 seconds behind leader Didier Cuche of Switzerland — although the results were annulled when fog prevented the final 45 skiers from starting.
Weather permitting, two more days of training are scheduled before Miller officially begins his games with the downhill race Saturday.
Having won only one race this season — a super-combi in Wengen, Switzerland, last month — Miller rejected the idea that he faces less pressure at these games,
"People think coming in under the radar is like being a fighter pilot and actually coming in under the radar," he said. "It's a completely ridiculous idea to come in under the radar. It's the Olympics, everyone is on the radar here.
"I'm ready to race. I was ready to race in Torino. I didn't have a great Olympics, but I've had lots of series of races that have gone much worse than that, so I come in here prepared and fired up, so hopefully it pops up on the radar here and there."
Miller still clings to his idealistic view of racing — where effort counts more than results.
"Obviously, you always want to win, but you want to win by skiing a race that you're proud of and you feel like you really challenged yourself and left it all out there," he said.
"I come into this as a last Olympics — or maybe I do 2014 — and I come in and race hard and hopefully I can make the tactical decisions to make it down and be error free. I want to make sure I find the gas pedal and depress it to the floor."