Miller opts for another knee surgery, done for season
Bode Miller is setting aside his skis for the rest of the World Cup season because of a balky left knee.
The five-time Olympic medalist had a minor arthroscopic procedure performed on the knee earlier this month with the hope of quickly returning to the circuit. But when Miller recently arrived back in Europe, he experienced more discomfort in the knee and opted for another season-ending surgery.
The U.S. ski team didn't release a date for Miller's next operation.
As for his future plans, they seem to center more on rehab than retirement.
"I love ski racing and I love being active so I hope for a solid recovery and to get back to training as soon as possible," Miller said. "I'm still having fun and as long as skiing is enjoyable, I'm going to continue to do it."
The way the 34-year-old Miller churns through a course simply puts a lot of stress on his body. He takes big risks, which result in just as many spectacular wipeouts as wins.
Miller had four podium finishes this season, including a nerve-testing victory on the challenging Birds of Prey downhill course at Beaver Creek in December.
In that race, Miller took more gambles than he typically does, his skis flying in all directions and his body slamming into gates as he barreled his way down the demanding hill. When he crossed the finish line, Miller pumped his fist in exultation -- as much out of relief as satisfaction. He skirted disaster his entire journey through the course.
"Winning again at Beaver Creek was pretty special," said Miller, whose aggressive line only he would take resulted in his 33rd World Cup win. "It was a good season for me."
The knee first began bothering Miller while he was competing on an icy slope in Sochi, Russia, a test run for the 2014 Winter Games.
He tried to ski through the pain the next weekend in Bansko, Bulgaria, and then decided to return to the U.S. in order to get his knee examined, which led to surgery.
Miller was fully planning on skiing last weekend in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, only the knee wouldn't cooperate.
"I couldn't get the range of motion that I needed out of my knee to be competitive," said Miller, who won three medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, including gold in the super-combined. "We thought if I rested a few more days, things would come around, but it didn't happen."
One of the highlights of the season for Miller was trying out the Olympic hill in Sochi, where, provided he's still skiing and makes the squad, he just might get to add to his collection of medals. Miller took fourth in the downhill at the venue, finishing just 0.02 seconds away from a spot on the podium.
"It was cool," Miller said of Sochi. "The mountain is world class -- it's as nice as any of the places we ever go and I think it's going to be amazing to host for the Olympics."
U.S. men's coach Sasha Rearick thinks Miller is only getting better with age.
"Bode had a solid season and was skiing technically and tactically better than he has been in a number of years," Rearick said. "Even though he's been extremely motivated to continue out the season and show what he can do by having fun with ski racing, his body just wasn't able to hold that.
"He's doing the right thing by getting his knee fixed and ready to go for the future."