US coach: Miller aiming to race next season at age 40
SANTA CATERINA VALFURVA, Italy — Bode Miller is still planning on racing again. Just probably not this season.
U.S. Ski Team head coach Sasha Rearick said that Miller told him he no longer plans on coming over to Europe for training in January.
“He sent me a text. He said, ‘Count me in coach in the future. I’m coming back. Just things are not looking good for me to travel this January,’” Rearick told The Associated Press on Thursday at a World Cup combined race.
Earlier this month, a lawsuit Miller had filed against his former sponsor and ski manufacturer Head was dismissed.
Miller ended his nearly 10-year partnership with Head in 2015 and signed an agreement not to use other skis in World Cup or world championship races for two years.
Miller was attempting to get out of the remainder of the deal so that he could race on skis by New York-based Bomber, which he helped develop.
However, Miller would be free to race on Bomber next season and at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, when he’ll be 40.
If that’s the plan, Rearick wants Miller to start training immediately — even if he can’t race due to the contract issues.
“I hope he comes back and I hope we get a full prep period in. That’s what is going to be key,” Rearick said. “If we decide to do this, let’s go full at it. Let’s not just do one camp here and Colorado. Let’s go at it full and let’s start now. Those are going to me my conversations that I have with him next week.”
Miller has not raced since severing his right hamstring tendon in February 2015 and did not show much speed during a brief training camp at Copper Mountain in Colorado last month, trailing several teammates.
There were questions in Colorado not only over Miller’s physical form but also his equipment, which is unproven on the World Cup circuit.
Is the equipment good enough for Miller to succeed on?
“Why not? It’s Bode Miller,” Rearick said.
Head racing director Rainer Salzgeber said there is a standing offer for Miller to race on Head as soon as he wants.
“We would welcome him back but I don’t expect that he wants to call us because it’s not a matter of real competitive skiing, otherwise he would need to be really prepared,” Salzgeber said.
Chris Krause, Miller’s ski technician, also left Head for Bomber.
“That’s why it would be quite easy to get him back on our stuff, because we would support him with the staff and Chris could tune the skis — everything’s easy,” Salzgeber said, adding that Miller’s old skis are still stored in Head’s warehouse in Austria.
Rearick also believes Miller could add to his haul of six Olympic medals in Pyeongchang.
“Bode is going to do something. But first he’s going to have to qualify for the Olympics,” the coach said. “We have a strong team in downhill. But I expect Bode to come out here and work hard and charge and bring the love of the sport to the team.
“There’s no doubt that Bode loves the sport more than most people and he loves going out there and competing and expressing himself on snow and that’s what I expect him to do, whether he’s 40, 41 or like he did when he was 24.”
Miller did not respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, there is no scheduled return date for Olympic giant slalom champion Ted Ligety, who is out nursing a sore back.
“We’re just trying to get this therapy to take effect right now,” Rearick said. “We’re not putting any timeline on when he’s coming back.”
Ligety has not competed since failing to finish the first run of a giant slalom in Alta Badia on Dec. 18.
“The first step is let the therapies take effect, second is once they’ve taken effect step progressively back into skiing — start out with free skiing, progress back into some easy training, then more challenging training,” Rearick said. “If all of that stuff goes well then we’ll start racing.”
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