Bode Miller to start 115th consecutive World Cup on SundayU.S. Ski Team coaches say that for the first time in three seasons, reigning overall World Cup champion Bode Miller will skip some races this year, departing from his unique practice of racing every single event on the World Cup calendar.
Miller says he’s not so sure.
The American, who has won the last two season openers at Soelden, Austria, will kick out of the start gate here on Sunday, marking his 115th consecutive World Cup race.
‘I am going to ski every race again’ Miller told Sports Illustrated this week. ‘It’s a source of pride for me. I don’t feel like there’s any reason to back off and half-ass it.’
That contradicts what the coaches have been saying. ‘The coaches believe a periodized plan make a lot of sense’ said U.S. Ski Team alpine director Jesse Hunt last month, ‘and I think he’s prepared to give it a shot.’
Over the last three seasons, Miller has been the only World Cup athlete to compete in every single World Cup race. Last year, his chief rival Benjamin Raich of Austria skipped the Wengen downhill.
U.S. men’s speed coach John McBride is hoping to convince him to sit out the World Cup races scheduled for January 28-29.
‘I would like to see him maybe skip Garmisch, then race Chamonix’ says McBride, who says the week off would be a true week off, not a training session. ‘The idea would be to get him out of the scene, send him to the beach, send him golfing.’
Miller could then return to competition for the Chamonix races February 3 and 4 the last World Cup events before the Olympic men’s downhill training runs start on February 9.
There is also talk on the ski team staff of Miller’s skipping one or more of the World Cup races in December, when the World Cup is busiest, with 13 men’s races in 22 days, in Colorado, France, Italy and Slovenia.
But all these plans may be on hold given Miller’s apparent change of heart. ‘It’s good for me in terms of lifestyle, too’ Miller told Sports Illustrated’s ski writer Tim Layden. ‘When you’re skiing every race, there’s less down time and that’s less time to stay out partying.’
The last time Miller skipped a World Cup race was March 6, 2002, the downhill at World Cup Finals, which were held that year at Flachau, Austria, not long after the Olympics.
Last year, Miller raced all 36 races on the men’s calendar. The year before, he raced all 38. In 2002-2003, he raced all 36.
‘He’s at a place right now where he’s done it his way, proved to the world you can win the World Cup racing every race’ says Hunt. ‘Now I think he’s going to do it like the average mortal not average, I wouldn’t say that, but like a mortal.’