An Unorthodox Olympic Skier From An Unlikely Place
In the elite world of alpine skiing, there is Bode Miller, and then there’s everyone else. Famous for his outspoken nature and exciting, almost reckless style, Bode Miller rocketed to fame from an unlikely place: a small town called Easton in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
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Although many articles list Franconia as Bode’s hometown, he’s actually from Easton, a tiny town of under 300 people just past Franconia. A child of hippie parents, Bode grew up on a 500-acre spread without electricity, running water or a telephone. In interviews, Bode points out that his unconventional childhood is something he cherished, not something he had to overcome. “If I was shoeless, it’s because I didn’t want to wear shoes and, more important, nobody made me,” Bode writes in his autobiography. *I’m not a hard-luck case. Anything I’ve ever done is because of my upbringing, not in spite of it.” He was home-schooled (or, as Bode says, “no-schooled”) until fourth grade, so he had plenty of time for skiing at Cannon Mountain. He started competing at the age of eleven. He liked taking risks and he was clearly talented. His coaches at Carrabassett Valley Academy, a racing school in Maine, were troubled by his unorthodox style. That didn’t stop Bode. He qualified for the U.S. Ski Team right out of high school.
His record has been impressive. In the 2002 Winter Olympics he won silver medals in the Giant Slalom and Combined events. In 2005 he was the first American in 22 years to win the overall World Cup title. Over the course of his career to date, he has earned 5 medals in the world championships, four of them gold. In the 2006 Olympic Winter games, Bode placed 5th in downhill and was disqualified in the combined. He is one of the few competitors to participate in all five alpine skiing events: Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super-G, Downhill, and Combined.
Bode is said to have wiped out more times than any other World Cup champion in history. Spectators can never be certain he’s going to make it to the bottom in one piece, and that is part of his appeal. Bode isn’t about playing it safe, but he’s not a cutthroat competitor, either. In fact, he doesn’t seem to care much about fame, fortune, or even winning races.
Bode’s independent streak is evident in his lifestyle. Instead of working out in a world-class facility with other Olympic hopefuls, he spends his summers training in an old barn on a machine he invented himself. He also trains by riding a unicycle, log rolling, and pushing a friend in a wheelchair. And unlike most of his colleagues on tour, he doesn’t stay in hotels. He sleeps in his own 30-foot motor home, and a friend drives and cooks for him.
Want to learn more about Bode Miller? Pick up a copy of his autobiography, Bode: Go Fast, Be Good, Have Fun, written with Jack McEnany.
~Jenn for nhliving.com
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