THERE HAS never been a career in U.S. Alpine skiing like Bode Miller's: an iconoclastic saga played out across three decades. After a childhood spent sleeping in a handmade house without electricity, Miller grew into a transcendent skier who won more World Cup races (33) and Olympic medals (five) than any other U.S. male in history—while bludgeoning that remarkable legacy with willful impudence. He traveled the circuit in his own party bus, admitted to having skied "wasted" and turned the 2006 Olympics into his personal rager. Then, at Vancouver in '10, he went gold-silver-bronze.
That would have been a sweet closing act, but Miller is back. He is married (to pro volleyball's Morgan Beck), with two small children (neither with Beck, and one the subject of a fierce custody battle). He had microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2012. "It still hurts," he said in December, "but it feels better than it has for a long time."
It has been an emotional year for Miller. Beck had a miscarriage in January 2013, and in April, Bode's brother, Chelone, 29, died of a seizure eight years after suffering a brain injury. Miller struggled for much of the World Cup season before taking third in a downhill and second in a Super G just two weeks before Sochi.
Ted Ligety remains the best U.S. men's medal hope. He's the world champion in Super-G, giant slalom (his specialty) and combined. He won the combined in 2006 and has 19 World Cup GS wins, third alltime among men. Among U.S. women, Mikaela Shiffrin is the favorite in slalom and a threat in GS. Three-time medalist Julia Mancuso hasn't won a World Cup race in two years, but has a history of success in the Games.