Bode Miller Calls Head Lawsuit “Corporate Oppression.” - Ski Mag

Judge's Ruling:  Bode Miller is DQ'd

Court dismisses Miller's lawsuit against Head. He must race on his former sponsor's gear this season, or not race at all.
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UPDATED: Bode Miller fans hoping to see him race this year will apparently have to wait and hope it happens next year.

According to the Associated Press, a California judge who was scheduled to hear opening arguments yesterday in his lawsuit against Head Skis dismissed the case on Friday, just hours after Miller publically commented on his case for the first time.

U.S. District Judge David Carter ruled that his Santa Clara, Calif., court had no jurisdiction in the matter, the A.P. reported. Miller is a California resident, but Head, which argues that Miller signed a non-compete clause clearly prohibiting him from competing on any other brand of skis before the end of the 2017 season, is based in Austria.

Bode Miller Fights Head Lawsuit

Bode Miller bombs the slopes in a gear and apparel from Bomber Skis, a brand he’s partnering with. Photo Credit: Bomber Skis/JonathanSelkowitz.

Despite the disagreement with Head, which Miller characterized on Friday as a case of “corporate oppression,” Miller had plans to race this year on skis made by his new company. Reinstated as a member of the U.S. Ski Team following a brief retirement last season, he attended summer training Chile, where he was seen testing not only Bomber skis but Full Tilt boots as well.

Now fans are likely to begin to wonder whether Miller will try again next year, an Olympic year. When the PyeongChang Games begin in February 2018 in South Korea, Miller, who is already America’s most decorated Olympic skier, will be 40 years old.

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Bode Miller on Friday morning broke his silence on his legal dispute with Head, saying the Austrian ski, boot, and binding manufacturer is unfairly trying to prevent him from racing on the World Cup this season.

“I just want to ski,” said Miller, disputing Head’s claim that he agreed not to race on any equipment other than Head, his former sponsor.

Since parting ways with Head following a season-ending 2015 injury, Miller has partnered with New York-based Bomber Skis and wishes to race on Bomber skis of his own design. He denies agreeing not to compete on any other brand than Head, and accuses Head of misleading the public.

“Our agreement is a simple one page document that anyone can read and it has no requirement that ‘if’ I race I must do so on Head equipment,” Miller said in the Friday statement, released in advance of an initial court hearing scheduled for Monday in Santa Ana, Calif.

“This is nothing more than a case of corporate oppression against an individual ski racer and our start-up ski company, Bomber. … I’m not sure what Head is so afraid of, but I would much rather compete on the slopes than in the courtroom,” added Miller.

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Here’s the full release from Miller, released by Bomber publicists:

Professional Skier Bode Miller Breaks Silence About Litigation with HEAD USA

Court Hearing Scheduled for Monday, December 19 at 8:30 a.m. in Santa Ana, Calif.

New York, NY – Bode Miller, the most decorated U.S. Olympic skier of all time, is speaking publicly for the first time regarding his pending litigation with HEAD USA.

“I have remained silent about the pending lawsuit with HEAD,” said Bode Miller, who has partnered with New York-based ski and snow sport company, Bomber, LLC. “However, as a result of HEAD issuing misleading press statements with false allegations and misinformation - it is important that I set the record straight for both my fans as well as for the entire ski industry.”

Prior to partnering with Bomber, Miller had a Sponsorship Agreement with HEAD USA until he retired following a season-ending injury. HEAD had Miller sign a termination agreement prohibiting him from racing in the World Championship and World Cup events for two calendar years from the date that the parties signed the agreement. Miller was paid nothing to enter into the termination agreement; it was not necessary for Miller to enter the termination agreement as his prior agreement with Head ended automatically as of April 2016, after Miller had announced his retirement in 2015. Miller stated, “HEAD has misled the public when it issued a press release stating that if I race again, ‘it has to be on HEAD equipment’. Our agreement is a simple one page document that anyone can read and it has no requirement that ‘if’ I race I must do so on HEAD equipment.”

“This is nothing more than a case of corporate oppression against an individual ski racer and our start-up ski company, Bomber. Throughout our work together, I had a great relationship with HEAD and made many friends there, I have great respect for the company and their equipment. However, when I retired I moved on and they should not seek to deprive me or my fans from my racing again. California state law clearly states that, with few exceptions, athletes may not be prevented from competing and earning their living. This is my last real chance to race competitively in the World Cup and World Championship, and it is disappointing to me that HEAD is trying to block me from doing that. I just want to ski.”

HEAD has been speaking publicly and issuing statements criticizing Miller’s testing of equipment that the industry has not accepted as standard; painting him in a negative light. “Throughout my career, I have been known for constantly testing and experimenting with new equipment and other innovative ways to maximize my performance. It has always been my desire to challenge the norms and create new and better equipment that caused me to invest in Bomber. From my first meeting with the owners, I realized we shared the same desire to challenge the industry to bring better products and the highest quality to the market. Bomber’s factory in Cossato, Italy allows me to bring my ideas to life. Ridiculing my attempts to disrupt the ski industry with innovative ideas is exactly the attitude that has stifled the industry’s development of new equipment and marketing. I’m not sure what HEAD is so afraid of, but I would much rather compete on the slopes than in the courtroom,” added Miller.

HEAD and Bomber will face off in Court on Monday where HEAD is seeking to win on a ‘legal technicality’. HEAD has tried to claim that California should not have jurisdiction over HEAD and seeks to relocate the trial from Miller’s home-state of California to another state that may have laws more favorable to them (even though they sell millions of dollars of products annually in California). Their hearing is scheduled for Monday, December 19, 2016 at 8:30 a.m. at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building in Santa Ana, California.

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