March 28, 2006
CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine (AP by Erica Bulman)—Bode Miller says he still has to decide whether he will continue to race next season. His manager, however, is pretty certain he'll be back.
"I think he'll be back and he'll be a dominant force on the World Cup, said Miller's manager Ken Sowles. "And he'll contend for the overall title.
Winning his last race of the season _ the giant slalom at the U.S. Championship _ Miller seemed relaxed and playful, and appeared to enjoy the scene. He even suggested it would be nice to keep competing.
"If the snow was like this I would race all the time, said Miller, who finished ahead of teammates James Cochran and Chip Knight. "It's not tiring when you ski like that, when the snow is that way, but I'm ready for some golf and rest, too.
Whether he returns next year hinges principally on his motivation, something Miller has lost since winning the World Cup overall title.
"I am not really motivated unfortunately, Miller had said at this season's opening World Cup race at Soelden, Austria, in October, adding that it felt as though he were continuing by "default.
He chose the Olympics as something to focus on, hoping it would carry over to the regular season. If he wanted to excel at the Olympics, he said, he needed to prepare himself for the rest of the season, too.[pagebreak]But after a lackluster season, Miller came home without an Olympic medal. He was harshly criticized by media and fans, though his results in Sestriere were in keeping with his season's performances. Miller finished fifth in the downhill and sixth in the giant slalom, and did not finish his other three events.
"In the past, motivation has been his strength. Going back to when he was a junior racer, a lot of racers get kind of burned out by this time of year but he was usually gung-ho, said Miller's father Woody. "I think he did have a motivation problem that really began last summer. I think the major thing was just mental. He wasn't as hungry.
"For most people, the Olympics are a lifelong dream and I think that's the way it was for him in Salt Lake City, whereas this time around he was dreading it.
With the Olympics over, Miller has appeared much better humored. After Tuesday's race, he lingered in the finish, joking and signing autographs for children and giving interviews.
Miller, who last year threatened to skip the Olympics and launch a rebel ski tour, often complains about sponsor obligations and excessive media and fan attention.[pagebreak]Woody Miller said it wasn't so much the excessive attention that bothered his son, but often the aggressive nature of it.
"I've had dinner with him over in Europe where we were just constantly being interrupted by people who want autographs, pictures or to say they think he's great, and some of them are really rude, Woody Miller said.
Though he refuses to commit at this point, the 28-year-old skier seems to be making conciliatory moves toward the U.S. ski team. He praised the team's coaching staff and declared he doesn't want to break away from the team.
He angered ski officials before the Olympics when he said in a TV interview he skied "wasted and called for liberalized anti-doping rules.
Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press