Madman or Maverick?
January 30, 2006
MZ: Daron's taken a number of big races this season, including Lauberhorn and a podium at the legendary Hahnenkamm. Bode, on the other hand, hasn't finished a number of races since his phenomenal start in Beaver Creek, which isn't necessarily surprising with the way he skis. Nonetheless. Do you still have the same expectation for them in World Cup competition and the Olympics?
BB: My expectations for Daron now are even greater. I mean the way he's come on this season I think has been phenomenal. I think Daron has blown the doors off this year. I'm really looking forward to watching him race the downhill. I think he really, if I had to lay money on anybody to take the downhill, I'd lay money on Daron.
Bode's been more hit and miss. But that's the way he kind of always is. He either wins it or completely blows off the course. I talked to a couple of crusty ski racing old timers. Bode drove them crazy. They couldn't stand it. He could have been the world champ three times over now if he would just manage his races. And you know what I mean by manage? If he would just pull it back just a fraction in order to stay on the course and maybe he'd come in fourth or fifth instead of first. But at least he'll come in, place, get the points and move on. But it's like he's constitutionally unable to do that. It's like he's got to wreck the course or wreck himself. Either one but, there's no in between.
MZ: You mentioned in your article that you thought that Bode Miller was historically great. Though, when I think of historically great athletes I think of those with extremely long careers. It's unlikely he'll compete in another Olympics and, sometimes it seems that he'd rather not be competing at all. Without a long career full of success after success, do you think he can still have the impact on American ski racing that, say, Lance Armstrong did on American cycling?
BB: I don't know; it's hard to say. A couple people have made that comparison, not that he is the Lance Armstrong of ski racing, but that he has the potential to be that. And I don't know if he wants to be that. I think he kind of doesn't. The thing that Lance Armstrong had that really propelled him to become Lance Armstrong six-time champion known to the world was his cancer survival and his cancer battle. And he had that mission. He had that message that he wanted to get out to everybody that I beat that thing; that I became a Tour de France champion and you can too. I feel that that's one of the thing's that propels Lance Armstrong, is not his own ego or his need to be recognized as one of the greatest athletes of the century, but rather, he wants to use the fame and achievements to really get that core message out. I don't think Bode has that kind of core message. What's the title of his book? Go Fast, Be Good, Have Fun? I think he's is a much deeper message than that title might indicate, but at the same time I don't know that he has an overriding philosophy that he wants to get out into the world in the same way that Lance did. Nike is definitely going to push him like Lance Armstrong, especially in the next six weeks, there's going to be no getting away from it. But, if Bode wins and does really well at the Olympics, he could just walk away at the end of the season because the media pressure could be just too much for him. Just say forget this, I'm just going to live my life. I think he's still going to be regarded as one of the greatest skiers of all time and maybe the greatest American skier of all time. But, I don't subscribe the theory that you have to have a long career to be that. I would say that even regardless of what he does in the Olympics his place is secure.Interview by Leah Greenstein, MountainZone Staff