Q and A with Bode Miller after he won his third World Cup race of the season on Jan. 6, 2002. His slalom victory in Adelboden was the first time a U.S. skier has won three World Cup races in a season since Phil Mahre did it during the 1983 season.
Sounds like you had some fun today
It wasn't too bad. The weather was perfect; you can't ask for better weather. The snow was a little chunky, though. Theyinjected it but it didn't take. It was good but it was also consistent. Certain gates were hard and certain gates were soft andthere were a few spots where there were holes.
There are some steep and nasty parts on Adelboden's course
Yeah, like Kranjska Gora where he skied out on his second run after leading the first run where I didn't know whathappened. I was cruising, got late, went out and hooked a tip. I had to pay attention today, for sure. It's a hard hill to make itdown. But I had good focus. And I had a terrible morning in warmup... It has one of the steepest pitches on the World Cup, especially for slalom. It's ridiculous...
But you let it rip on the second run?
I didn't really let it rip. The course was just tough, and even guys going 70-0 percent couldn't make it. The snow wasinconsistent so you didn't know what was gonna happen. I was lucky nothing did happen. I think i skied tactically prettysmart.
Sounds like you had a good race plan
A certain amount I can't take all the credit for. I come into most races with a good plan. I know what I can do and can't do. Imake a plan based on inspection and then try to race to that plan. Today, things were different but I managed to adapt. A lotof guys got caught; they didn't adapt to the conditions.
I've had confidence for all four years I've been on the team, on the World Cup. I come into every race ready to win ... Youhave to minimize the things you can't control. I definitely have the speed, no question -- if I'm skiing as fast as I can, I'mabout the fastest in the world. But sometimes I go too fast. I have to know when to take it back.
What's your routine in the start gate?
It's the same sort of mindset people try to get into. You try to clear your head, focus on a few basic things -- some peoplelike to focus on something on the course or a few key words that make them feel calm or confident, or whatever. I clear myhead out, do a few deep-breathing meditative things, think about my basic plan about a minute and a half before I go.Standing the gate I try to slow everything down, my heartbeat, everything...
The team played hockey for dryland traing today. How often do you guys do that?
Actually, I think this was the first time we've played this year. Hockey's not one of our primary sports -- we play a ton ofsoccer, some rugby and football. It helps establish a pecking order that may not be the on-the-hill pecking order. It's kindof cool; the people who are best at skiing aren't always the best at everything else. It's dangerous but not as dangerous assome sports.
Where are you in that hockey pecking order?
Oh, I move around. It's mostly just for fun. But it's good, too, because it's anaerobic, it's extremely anaerobic. And it givesyou some good balance and movement. I used to play hockey when I was young and I played some recreationally at myboarding school Maine's Carrabassett Valley Academy...
You led the first run. Do you like leading going into the second run?
It doesn't make a difference. I like it. Both time I've been leading after the first run I won the second run and the race, atleast in slalom. I feel good. When I'm up at the top, I'm not worried if I'm gonna lose. If I lose, I lose but I don't worry aboutit. I just try to think about my plan, breathe, slow things down, and then go for it.
I came into a lot of races last year with a great plan, a great preparation, I was totally psyched and then I just had one ofthose things I couldn't contrrol...
What's different this year?
It'd be nice to say I changed something and it's night and day. But it's a combination of things. I'm physically more mature,my body's maturing on its own, and I have great slalom skis his second season on Fischer Skis that were lacking the lastfour years. And myself, I'm just growing a little at a time.
Any thoughts about being a medal favorite going into the Olympics?
I no way respond to pressure in general. It's not easy to describe. I don't feel like I'm afraid. It doesn't scare me to lose. I'vedone that before, so that doesn't bother me. If I'm in the Olympics and leading the first run, I don't think about crashing inthe second run. It only affects me on one way -- I get fired up.
What about the Olympics?
It's a one-shot deal. You have one chance at it and if you can pull it off, you get your rewards. Really, it's the essence of thesport but there's a painful reality when you miss by a hundredth of a second or you hook a tip on the last gate. If I couldtrade a World Cup win, which I have the capability of winning every weekend or maybe twice a week, for an Olympic medal,I'd go for that trade.
Which would you rather have, an Olympic medal or a World Cup title?
Oh, a World Cup title is more important. The Olympic medal is great but it shows either you were lucky or you picked agreat day to rip it. A World Cup title shows you were at the top of your spot all year long.
Are you having fun now?
It's not a bad job. You can imagine, basically, what you like to do the most and getting paid for it. It's good.
You wear mittens instead of gloves. how did that get started?
I cut my hand on a SoBe bottle when he crashed while skateboarding and the broken bottle cut his hand in 1999. That'show SoBe became my sponsor. I always drank the stuff and I talked about it on an interview with ESPN and tjhey heard itand liked it, and we got together ...I cut an artery in my hand -- cut five tendons and nerves, through to thebone...something like 94 stitches. It hasn't come back all the way, my hand doesn't respond well to cold, so I can keep itwarm in the mitten.
How'd you meet your girlfriend?
She went to Middlebury - she's from Wisconsin - and she had a blown-out knee also, and we met at Dr. RichardSteadman's.
Any particular reason for your success this season?
It's a combination of things. There's not one new thing that's changed and is letting me have success. Some of it is coreconditioning. I had a good training session this summer where normally I don't have it because of my injury left ACL,injured in crash last February during combined downhill race at the World Championships in Austria. And my equipmentis huge. Both Chip Knight and I are on Fischer and Fischer built a slalom ski to our specs; we worked individually withex-World Cup racer Siegfried Voglreiter and this is allowing me to ski the way I want to ski.
And some of it's just time and experience. I know the World Cup hills now. I know how long they are. I just feel morecomfortable.