October 15, 2015

Bode Miller will leave all the racing this season to his horses.

The six-time Olympic medalist is taking a break from competing on the World Cup circuit to spend more time with his family, test out a new line of ski equipment and oversee a barn full of promising thoroughbreds he owns.

Don't read this as any sort of retirement, though. Not yet, anyway, even if Miller did turn 38 earlier this week. He's still keeping that door open, although he finds it ''really unlikely'' that he will be flying out of the starting gate at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.

''But it would be a cool thing to share with your kids, competing at a high level,'' Miller said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday. ''And fitness-wise, my body feels excellent. You never know, but I would say it's really unlikely I'd go in `18.''

Skiing took a backseat in May when he and his wife, pro beach volleyball player Morgan Beck Miller, welcomed a son.

''I haven't slept in 4 1/2 months,'' cracked Miller, who has two kids from previous relationships. ''My priorities are so focused on the baby and family stuff. It's really hard to manage all the other stuff.''

He's also getting more involved in projects such as training horses. He and a business partner own 15 horses and a barn in Maryland. Among his good friends is Bob Baffert, the trainer of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

''Our program is a super, super elite training program,'' Miller said. ''It's training, but you can't really call it training. In ski racing, it's conditioning. That's what we're doing - conditioning the (the horses) mentally and physically to compete.''

One of his horses is Ravenheart, which will compete this weekend at the Maryland Million Nursery. He picked out Ravenheart - saw the potential in him - and named him after his favorite fantasy novel.

''Each one of these horses is like my kid,'' Miller said. ''When you really invest yourself and your energy into an animal, you're much more invested in the outcome. It hurts more when they lose or when they hurt themselves. But you get a lot more when they win.''

Miller has captured 33 World Cup races and two overall titles. He's also earned three Olympic silver medals and two bronze to go with the gold in the super-combined at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Fitness-wise, Miller said he ''feels excellent.'' He had surgery last November to fix a herniated disk in his back and didn't return until the world championships three months later in Beaver Creek, Colorado. He crashed during the super-G and severed his right hamstring tendon.

Miller skied in Europe and Chile over the summer with no trouble - or hint of pain.

''My hamstring seems to have no real impact on my ability to ski and my body feels great,'' said Miller. ''My back feels fine. In terms of that, everything feels great.''

Miller split from his sponsor Head and joined Bomber Ski, a company he's collaborating with that makes handcrafted skis in a race lab in Italy.

U.S. men's coach Sasha Rearick doesn't think the world has seen the last of Miller on a race hill. Far from it.

''He's Bode Miller. He loves it. He loves expressing himself on snow,'' Rearick recently said. ''He loves pushing the limits. If he's got a new challenge, find something fun for him, he's going to go full at it.''

As for when he might retire, well, Miller explained it this way: ''The way it works in ski racing - you just don't show up anymore.''

Sort of like this?

''I would tell people, `Look, I'm not going to do this anymore,' and lay it out my plans,'' Miller explained. ''I haven't drafted that up yet. As of now, it's not the likely outcome. But you never know.

''I'm juggling a lot of different things and my family is my top priority. It comes down to whether or not we can manage (ski racing) with my family.''

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