SI.com spoke with Bode Miller about his iconic skiing career, his new job as a broadcaster and the upcoming Olympics.
This will be the sixth straight Olympics Bode Miller has attended, only this time the six-time medalist will be in the commentary booth for NBC.
He officially retired in October and now works as the chief innovation officer for Aztech Mountain, a Colorado-based skiwear company. SI.com spoke with Miller about his new gig as an announcer, his thoughts on the upcoming Olympics, his Super Bowl pick and much more.
(The following interview was lightly edited and condensed for clarity.)
Dan Gartland: How helpful will your experience doing commentary for World Cup races be for you as you prepare to cover the Olympics with NBC?
Bode Miller: It’s critical, actually. It’s not a terribly tough thing for me to figure out how to do but there’s still a certain cadence to it. There’s few things that it helps to be used to, like with the timing of things or when they talk in your ear while you’re trying to talk. Those are all things that take a little getting used to, so it definitely helps.
DG: You were critical of the venue in Sochi. Do you think there will be anything about Korea and either the snow or the terrain there that will provide a challenge for the skiers at the Olympics?
BM: That’s really the crux of the whole thing. Skiing is full of that. There’s always something that’s problematic for one skier or another, or all of them, or one particular brand of ski. The number of variables there are in that sport, it’s always that. There’s no easy way to talk about it beforehand but that definitely will be a factor.
DG: How do skiers try to get a scouting report of the venue?
BM: A lot of that has to do with the specific weather patterns that come through, how the course track is—and that varies year to year. There’s a lot of variables.
DG: Obviously a lot of the focus this Olympics will be on Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin, two fantastic Americans. Are there any other potential breakout stars you’re looking forward to covering?
BM: It’s a strange sport because the favorites don’t generally do that well. If Michael Phelps came out of an Olympics with no medals, that would be shocking, whereas in this sport seeing a favorite come out with no medals is not shocking at all. It happens every single Olympics. Aksel Svindal, who was massively favored going into the last Olympics—he was skiing great, had just won several races going in there, had just won Kitzbühel right before that—he came out with no medals.
So while you can’t speak highly enough of Mikaela and Lindsey, it’s just no guarantee. In swimming there’s no variables. You hop in the pool, you do your thing, you might miss a start by a little bit but if you’re good enough you’ll overcome that. In this, there are just so many variables that are outside the control of the athlete that it really is sometimes absolutely impossible for even the very best to make up enough to cover that spread.
DG: This will be the first Olympics since 1994 that you won’t be competing in. You’ve missed World Cup seasons in the past but do you anticipate covering the Olympics to feel any different than the World Cup?
BM: I don’t know that it’ll be that different. The World Cup I would expect to be the bigger anomaly. If you think about it from my perspective, since I was born in 1977 there have been five Olympics that I didn’t compete in and five Olympics that I did compete in. The bigger difference is that I raced 438 World Cup races. To then commentate World Cups and not be a part of it, that was a much greater pool of races for me. The Olympics is still only five. But I also think the spectacle of the Olympics is so much more prevalent and much more culturally relevant for Americans. So to be able to experience that the way that the rest of country and friends and family have for the last five Olympics, I think that will be way more fun for me.
DG: I read that you’re selling one of your race suits from Sochi on eBay. What went into that decision?
BM: Having four storage units full of old stuff that I’ll never use or touch again [laughs]. That’s actually probably not true. I probably have more like six storage units. Leading up to the Olympics I want to get the excitement up, I like to get people engaged. That’s really the majority of why I’m doing the commentary anyway. It’s not really cash intensive. It’s just that I want to help enhance the experience for everyone else if I can.
DG: You officially retired in October but you hadn’t raced since crashing in 2015 and severing a hamstring tendon. I know the basketball player Shaun Livingston has said he never watched the video of his gruesome knee injury. Have you gone back and watched the video of the crash that essentially ended your career?
BM: Yeah, it wasn’t the injury that ended my career. (Editor’s note: Miller also had a legal dispute with a ski manufacturer that prevented him from racing on other skis for two years.) It’s not hard for me to watch crashes—I’ve watched so many of them. For a basketball player, they don’t get injured that often and when they do it’s not usually a visual injury. In ski racing, we crash all the time. We watch crashes because you have to figure out why you crashed. You really want to figure out what happened and not make that mistake again.
With the crash, I honestly could have continued racing that World Cup series even though I cut my hamstring. The cut was nasty but it’s the same as any other cut. If I was a hockey player and I was tougher I probably would have just sewed it up and gone right on skiing. But it was a small tendon that you can do without and in the end it’s gone anyway. Mine blew back out. It wasn’t really that serious of an injury. It looks gross and the crash was hard but it certainly wasn’t harder than a lot of other crashes I’ve had.
DG: You’re from New England (New Hampshire). Are you a football fan at all?
BM: I am. This is the first year that I’m getting to go to the Super Bowl, so I’m excited. I watched the Super Bowls all the time from Europe but it’s a different experience over there and I’m glad I get to see a Super Bowl where Tom Brady will still be competing because he’s one of my favorite football players.
DG: Do you have a pick?
BM: The Patriots. I think they’ll hold the Eagles pretty well. I think it’ll be 34–18, Patriots.