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In the past he has not cheated on effort in training, and the results have been measurable. In 2004-05 he blasted out the blocks and won four of the first five World Cup races. But before this year is finished, the question will be, Did he do enough? His summer has been filled with business meetings and rounds of golf. It has been a challenge to fit in workouts and to find the desire to fit them in.
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Miller says he hates being marketed, yet he is a marketing machine. He was raised with disregard for material wealth, yet now he basks in it. "He likes the spoils of winning, but that works against his natural propensity to be a nonconformist," says Kenney. "It's a dilemma for him." Miller fights it by trying to control the way he's used. On this morning he examines the prototype for a cellphone video game called Bode Miller Alpine Racing. Miller travels the World Cup circuit with a PlayStation2 console. He is a gamer, and he is engaged in making the best possible product for his gaming brethren.
"Split times," he tells California-based game creators Matt Saia and Jamie Ottilie. "You need split times on the screen."
Seven weeks later a crew of more than 30 people descends upon Franconia to film several Nike commercials and segments for what will become the shoe company's joinbode.com website. Mike Byrne, creative director for Wieden + Kennedy, the advertising agency that has shaped Nike's image and now shapes Miller's, spends two long days coaxing Miller to shrink his rambling discourses to 30-second sound bites. "I signed with Nike because they give me the best chance to express my message," says Miller. Does he think the public will understand it? "Probably not," he says.
Chelone Miller, 22, a professional snowboarder, crashes his motorcycle on a rural highway not far from the Miller family's home. Helmetless, he suffers a serious head injury and is transported to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon. A coma is induced, and a piece of Chelone's skull is removed.
Bode is in New York City and hears of his brother's injury in a call from his father, who was once a medical student. Bode does not return to New Hampshire for two days. "My father kept me updated," he says. "There was no use in going up there. It was just going to be a lot of people standing around being upset and worried, and none of that was going to do any good for my brother."
If Miller's response seems cold, it does not surprise his family. "I was surprised that he showed up at all," says his mother. "Bode has a way of avoiding any situation that would create a lot of emotion, like not hanging out with my mother when she was dying [in January 1992], when all the other kids spent a lot of time with her. He doesn't like getting into that stuff; it's too intense for him."
Jo Miller connects Bode's distance to the death of her younger brother, Bubba, 24 years ago in a kayaking accident. "Bub and Bode were close, and Bode was at a very critical age," she says. "That had a deep impact on him."