THE SKI: Unlike a lot of racers, Bode Miller offers design ideas and feedback to Atomic engineers--who can only dream about skiing the way he does.
A stout release spring with a DIN range of 10-—18. A typical setting for recreational skiers is 7; most Atomic racers ski with a DIN around 16. At race speeds, premature release is worse than no release at all.
Shaped to conform to FIS minimums for each event. The downhill minimum sidecut radius is 45 meters, which most recreational skiers (who are used to sidecuts in the 15—20-meter range) simply couldn't turn.
The polyethylene used is softer than that of commercial products—the better to absorb wax—with graphite and ceramic added to disperse static electricity and heat, respectively. The drawback is that softer plastic can actually melt at downhill speeds.
Ruthlessly sturdy, designed to flex into its sidecut only at race speeds. Two and often 3 sheets of metal are used to dampen vibrations and reinforce an unusually thick core.
Because they must be hand-tuned repeatedly, race skis' steel edges are actually softer than those on commercial skis, which are built for durability and machine tuning.
All Atomic athletes use 215-cm downhill boards, which is the FIS minimum. For slalom, Miller downsizes by 23 percent to 165s, the FIS minimum for that discipline.
THE BOOT: Miller has several pairs of boots, each tuned differently. A great deal of grinding and punching must be done to get him into a shell of acceptable (you'd say unbearable) tightness.
Liner Little more than a leather sock, with "a little cork thrown in around the ankles to save the bones, says Atomic's Ed Guzman. Cushy, it isn't. Nor will it ever be accused of muffled feedback or sluggish response.
Cuff Tailored to the needs of the event. Differing heights and stiffnesses yield drastically different results in the same shell.
Shell Customized to encase Miller's foot in a virtual cast of extra thick, rigid plastic.
Buckles Simple, sturdy, aerodynamically shaped and carefully placed to achieve optimal closure without ever dragging in the snow when Miller rides an impossibly high edge.
Cant Differs according to event—or even venue. For a turny, technical downhill , Miller likes to be canted out for instant access to his edges. For a long, gliding course, a more neutral setup makes it easier to ride a flat ski.