Despite his reputation as a sporting rebel, Bode Miller was a dedicated competitor with a knack for producing the goods when it really mattered. He arrived in Vancouver with an outstanding Olympic record – all that was lacking was a gold medal.
Miller grew up in the ski area of New Hampshire, and his family lived in a cabin with no electricity or indoor plumbing. He won a scholarship to a ski racing academy in Maine, where his wild style was harnessed to maximise his potential for speed. An out-and-out racer right from the start of his career, Miller was willing to risk a crash in pursuit of victory and was destined to become one of his country’s greatest Alpine skiers.
A naturally gifted all-rounder, he competed at the very highest level in every Alpine discipline. He made his World Cup debut in 1996 at the age of 18, with his first appearance at the Olympic Winter Games coming two years later in Nagano.
He won his first Olympic medals in 2002 – silvers in the giant slalom and combined – though disappointment would follow four years later in Turin, where he came away without a medal despite his fine form in the run-up. Lying first after the opening leg of the combined, he was then disqualified, leading to questions about his attitude, with some wondering whether he would ever again get a chance to go for Olympic gold.
Certainly the omens were not good in 2009, when, for the first time in eight years, Miller went the whole season without winning a single race.
That barren run did not stop him from making the American team for Vancouver 2010 and entering all five events, having rediscovered the determination that had fired him during his most successful years.
He opened his latest Olympic campaign by winning a bronze in the downhill, just 0.09 seconds behind winner Didier Défago – the closest finish in Olympic downhill history.
After claiming silver in the super-G, he went one better in the combined, finally bringing to an end his 14-year wait for Olympic gold. Lying a relatively lowly seventh after the downhill, Miller capitalised on his rivals’ inability to improve their time in the slalom, putting in a storming performance to clinch first place. His three medals made him the USA’s most decorated athlete at Vancouver 2010.