Bode Miller's Winter Games
More Winter Games By the Numbers
Editor’s Note: Already Bode Miller has claimed a bronze, a silver, and a gold, making him the most decorated American Olympic alpine skier in history, with a total of five medals in his three winter games.
Only four years ago, in 2007, in Torino, Italy, it was another story. Then Bode was castigated by press and fans as a bust.
Yankee Classic from January/February 2007
Bode Miller, the fastest and most notorious Alpine skier of his generation, grew up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, a mile back in the woods, without electricity and running water. He was homeschooled, self-reliant, and raised to think for himself and not be afraid to say what he thinks. He went into last winter’s Olympics in Torino, Italy, the most ballyhooed American skier in memory — and, when he failed to medal, was slammed in the media as a failure.
We caught up with the 29-year-old Miller two days after he made headlines for a spectacular catch while making a celebrity appearance with the professional New Hampshire Pride baseball team. Soon he’d begin training in earnest for the upcoming World Cup season. At the heart of his unique regimen is running in the shallow, fast-flowing, boulder-strewn streams of the White Mountains, hopping from rock to rock — challenging himself as he’s done since childhood.
(Note: Rated PG for mild profanity)
My whole family was there at the [New Hampshire Pride baseball] game, and I think they were all worried I was going to embarrass myself. But I’m not afraid to put myself in a position where there is potential to embarrass myself. That’s what’s fun about living.
It’s been 15 years since I saw a fly ball, but I take pride in giving my best effort and not worrying about screwing up or making myself look dumb. It took the maximum of my ability to make that catch. I’m quick and tall, and I jumped and I was at max extension and I got that thing and smashed myself down on the warning track. It was as much as you could ever hope for. The crowd went crazy.
Ego and pride are great strengths for athletes. They make you work hard. They are incredible motivators. But they’re also huge weaknesses. Most athletes don’t recognize that other side of ego and pride. You just have to recognize that being an athlete, you have to be willing to constantly test yourself and be willing to accept that maybe the best you have is not good enough. A lot of athletes do not want to find that out. It’s just fear.
A lot of athletes won’t take the risk of blowing it. Everybody else can pump your tires all day, but that one catch — that one time where you hang it out there and you know that you may look like a total jackass right now — it’s fifty thousand times more important than what everybody else thinks about me.
For a male athlete, ego and pride are two of the most important things and are what drive a lot of athletes into sports — they want that reinforcement.
Defining your own version of success sometimes has nothing to do with the version of success that everybody else has. For me, getting up and striking out twice was a success. It was a success because I know that people in the stands and my family were worried I was going to embarrass myself. For me, getting up there and taking my cuts and trying to focus as hard as I could, and making an effort to actually hit the ball, even though I ended up absolutely whiffing — that was a success for me. That was all I could do.
Success was for me to come in there like the game was on the line and do everything in my power to hit the ball, even though I knew there was a huge chance that I would not do anything right at all. That was awesome for me. A lot of people don’t understand that. They don’t understand that you can define your own success. And it has nothing to do with what everybody else says.