America Needs Bode

Posted By: The Ski Channel on February 15, 2010 9:26 pm

So far these Olympics have had headlines more like those you’d see on a tabloid rather than the front page of the sports section. Everything from which figure skater is dating whom, to how the athletes featured in Sports Illustrated exposed themselves. Not until Bode Miller won his 3rd Olympic medal (making him the most decorated American ski racer in Olympic competition) did people really start to catch on to the so called “come-back” he made to earn his way into these Olympics. But I’m not writing this article to come off like every other sports writer tonight, who wants you to reference his path of determination. Because lest we forget Bode left the U.S. team in 2007 and followed that season up with an Overall World Cup Ranking of #1. Time and time again, he shrugged off his lifestyle-in-question to prove to everyone that “Bode” doesn’t need us. And it’s a fact.

Bode doesn’t need America, America needs and has always needed Bode. Not since the flicker of interest in the sport that the Mahre brothers sparked in the early 80′s (and possibly Tommy Moe’s downhill gold in 1994), has the U.S. Ski Team had the broad exposure that Bode Miller has been providing for the last decade. Ski racing is a world where an individual athlete walks an extremely fine line between precise control and absolute craziness. Subsequently it takes very confusing and interesting individual such as Bode to truly master this sport, not burn out, and ultimately provide fans with over a decade of success. So many ski racers train their whole lives, only to hit the psychological and emotional walls after they have earned their way to international competition.

Unfortunately the majority of America chooses to ignore professional ski racing every 3 years and 11 months, only to demand results from their countries brightest young skiers on the lighting of a torch. But for the last 8 years, both ski racing fans and the general public alike have all had the extreme fortune of watching Bode Miller provide us with a flavor that NBC, Barbara Walters, and the U.S. Ski Team needed! I had a good friend and teammate in high school who was vying for the Oregon Ski Racing State Championship when he slid up to the start gate wand and his father shouted “Just don’t suck!”. That’s the kind of care free and “take what life gives you” attitude that successful winter athletes like Bode have had to live by. There aren’t any officials that can blow a whistle and bail out an athlete if he or she falters, like you see in other sports. Skiing is a sport where hundredths of a second will mean the difference between complete glory and utter failure. It will always take an individual who can shrug off those fractions or utter failures (like Bode) to stay focused and determined for a long and memorable career.

So, Congrats Bode. You should probably get some good rest for tomorrow’s combined event, but if the Whistler Village is calling too loudly, go have a good time for all of us. While you ski in four more Olympic events, it will be up to us to celebrate your larger-than-life influence on American sports history. Oh and by the way, “Just don’t suck.”