going to be a tough thing for me to manage. My actions are not consistent. I'm
super-mellow and laid back, but I'm always thinking and running 100,000
scenarios through my head. Sometimes I'm disciplined, but I like to be a total
slacker, too. I party hard, but I train hard. People are going to try to figure
me out and figure out my motivations, and it's going to be a circus."
-- Bode Miller,
June 2005, anticipating the buildup to the Turin Winter Olympics
BODE MILLER and
eight months of hype: There's a match made in hell. The 28-year-old Alpine
skier is forever the petulant teenager, insisting on answering media queries
with sermons that are often delivered without regard to consequences. Few
athletes have been more ill-suited to the biennial role of Olympic icon. � His
public image as a loose cannon was cast in January, when 60 Minutes broadcast
an interview in which Miller said he skied "wasted" and Rolling Stone
published a story in which Miller suggested that Barry Bonds and Lance
Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs. ( Armstrong has repeatedly
denied such allegations, and Bonds has denied knowingly using steroids.) Both
interviews were conducted during a six-week media blitz in October and November
but were held until the Games loomed close, giving the impression that Miller
was becoming increasingly reckless and disdainful as the Olympics drew
In fact Miller
has been skiing faster after a long, mediocre season, and last week he left the
spotlight to prepare his mind and his sore body for the Games, joining his
brother, Chelone, who nearly died in an October motorcycle accident, for a golf
vacation in Dubai.
ILLUSTRATED met up with Miller at various points on his eight-month ride,
including one stop at his sister's home in New Hampshire in October. After
having criticized the international antidoping movement in several interviews
that month, incurring the wrath of international ski officials, Miller sat on a
coach parrying attempts at spin control by his agent, Lowell Taub. Suddenly
Miller threw his hands toward the ceiling, laughed maniacally and shouted,
"I want to make all drugs legal! I want to race wasted!"
It was hilarious,
and clearly a joke--but you had to be there.
JUNE 8, 2005,
Miller lives in a
quaint A-frame off Easton Valley Road, south of the village. Hand-lettered
signs nailed to trees alongside the dirt driveway read BEAT IT and SCRAM.
"That's our high-tech security system," says Cam Shaw-Doran, one of
Miller's two housemates. Inside the house are piles of dirty clothes, a massive
stereo, a long row of empty tequila bottles. Outside are dirt bikes, mountain
bikes, golf clubs and acres of woodlands and streams.
The 2004-05 World
Cup season ended in March, and Miller is home to rest. "I can go jump in
the river if I want to," he says. The house is across the street from the
Miller family's Tamarack Tennis Camp, which is a mile below the no-plumbing,
no-electricity home in which Bode was raised by his hippie parents, Jo and
Woody. (Franconia friendships are Bode's deepest: On the World Cup circuit
childhood buddy Jake Sereno, 27, drives Miller's RV and cooks his meals, and
cousin Chance Stith, 32, will be selling the skier's licensed
merchandise--mostly hats and T-shirts--at event sites.)
Miller's time in
the woods this spring has been minimal. He went to the world hockey
championships in Austria with his girlfriend, Karen Sherris; jetted to
Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, where trainer Bob Baffert (a ski buff who
named his infant son Bode) let Miller help saddle starter Sort It Out; and
chilled in Los Angeles. He has not trained seriously in 10 weeks. "You need
to let your body go into full mellow mode to recover from the season,"