Posted: Friday February 10, 2006 2:37PM; Updated: Friday February 10, 2006 2:37PM
On Sunday, he will stay home and watch on television as Bode skis in the downhill. He doesn't claim to fully understand all of his big brother's motivations and rants, and he knows Bode is less than happy. But he also has a snow purist's appreciation for what Bode can do on a race course. "I don't think Bode is going to do this s--- much longer,'' says Chelone. "But I hope he doesn't just peter out at the end."
Chelone will stay home for the entire Games, even when his mom and several other family members make the trip to Italy for the second week. It is not what Chelone planned. You think Bode has had a tough year? Chelone's has been far tougher.
"I was planning on going to Italy with him," says Chelone. "Not to watch. I was planning on making the Olympic team in snowboardcross."
Bode is not the only Miller with winter talent. Chelone is a professional, big-mountain snowboarder who appeared in a segment of the most recent Warren Miller movie, a piece of serious snow cred. He has spent the last two winters training and carving huge lines at Mammoth Mountain in California's High Sierra and late last winter also worked out in Park City with a group of riders who were training for snowboardcross. "I was competitive with them," says Chelone. "I think I would have had a good chance of making the team."
All his best equipment is at Bode's house in Park City. "I planned on going back out there to train," says Chelone. That's why he was left with a crappy board last week. When I saw Chelone in September, he was launching high pitching wedges against a craggy hillside in Franconia, ripped and strong after a long summer working out harder than his brother trained all year. Now he has lost 15 pounds and will take his time in building it back.
"I don't want to push too hard," he says. "I've been sleeping 11 or 12 hours a night, and that seems to be the best thing for my body right now. I really think your body repairs itself best when you're asleep. Plus I've got to be careful with this plug in my skull. I want to be able to get out and really snowboard in late March."
It is easy to measure Bode's tortured search for pleasure against Chelone's struggle to rebuild his mind, body and soul and belittle the older brother. It's also not fair. It took Bode two days to come to Chelone's bedside in October, but once there, he held his brother's hand and talked to his sleeping eyes. They are sharing something now, thousands of miles apart but linked by the wonder of what lies ahead.
At this point, it's anybody's guess what will make Bode Miller happy. Money? Medals? Isolation? I once sat next to him while a questioner asked him: "What's fun for you?"
His answer: "Fun moves around." It wasn't intended as a wisecrack or a joke. It was meant as a riddle, the question of what tomorrow will bring.
For Chelone Miller, the answer today is simpler and worth embracing. Fun is a cold New England morning, an easy roll down grippy corduroy and a cracked snowboard at the bottom. And of course, the knowledge that there is any tomorrow at all, regardless of what it brings.