An artist on the pisteEvery ski fan agrees that Bode Miller was a cut above the rest. Always skiing on the edge, the American had a unique and spectacular style. His big jumps and apparent lack of co-ordination made him look unbalanced at every turn, but each time he would miraculously recover and increase his speed around the gate. For the Americans, Miller’s arrival on the Alpine scene ended a two-decade wait for their next superstar, after the Mahre brothers (Steve and Phil) took the world by storm in 1983. His first World Cup wins in the slalom and super-G in 2002 hinted that he was a worthy successor. Growing up on a farm with no water or electricity, the Franconia native never felt the pressure to make history, and was guided simply by the pleasure of doing what he loved. Nonetheless, Miller was a consummate perfectionist who was always looking for the fastest line.
A multi-talented athleteMiller is one of only a handful of skiers to have won World Cup events in every discipline, from slalom to downhill. His career was marked by some dramatic highs and lows. His best performances included two silver medals at the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City in 2002, 32 World Cup victories and four World Championship titles.Among the lowpoints were numerous DNFs and his empty-handed return from Turin 2006, where he had been widely expected to strike gold. The double World Cup overall winner was also no stranger to controversy. In 2007 he split from the American ski team and spent two years racing independently, travelling with his entourage in a mobile home throughout the winter season.
Olympic championMiller arrived at Vancouver 2010 calm and focused, and it paid off. This was his fourth Winter Games, 12 years after his first appearance in Nagano had ended with DNFs in the slalom and giant slalom. He began his campaign on the slopes in Whistler with a bronze medal in the downhill, before stepping up a gear to take silver in the super-G. Then, two days later, he celebrated his first Olympic title with a victory in the super combined.
Record in SochiAfter his exploits in Vancouver, Miller continued to shine in the speed events, notching his 33rd World Cup victory in 2012. The following year, however, he had to undergo knee surgery, which put him out of action for the entire 2012-13 season and meant he missed the World Championships in Schladming. In the winter leading up to the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, he returned with a vengeance, taking his total number of podiums to 79. Most notably he finished second in the Kitzbühel super-G on 26 January 2014. A month later in Rosa Khutor, after disappointment in the downhill where he ended up finishing 8th, Miller took his sixth Olympic medal, a bronze in the super-G.
Aged 36 years and five months he became the oldest Alpine skiing medallist in the history of the Games. It was a fitting swansong for an extraordinarily talented skier, who was sometimes criticised, often controversial, but always admired.