(USSA News Release - Feb. 6, 2003) BODE MILLER — Press conference comments Thursday after winning the combined gold medal at the World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland…flanked by two Norwegians: silver medalist Lasse Kjus, bronze medalist Kjetil Andre Aamodt
Can you compare winning the Olympic silver medal a year ago and winning World Championships gold in combined?
"Actually, it's a really similar feeling last year and this year. I had such a great run, my final run of slalom last year, and it was the Olympics, my home country, and I really felt proud to have skied so hard…and, under the circumstances, I think everyone had counted me out of the race."First or second, like Aamodt said, racing against the top guys in the world in these single-event type races, you could easily be fifth. And to be on the right side or the wrong side of those hundredths — I was two-tenths out there after being 2.4 (seconds) behind going into the last run. So, that two-tenths is the margin. Today, it was seven-hundredths, which is obviously even less.
"It can go either way and to know all three of us were battling up there as hard as we could all day, and skied the whole downhill through wind and snow and jumps, and made all mistakes, then we skied two runs of slalom and it came down to seven-hundredths to separate us — and even less than two-tenths with Aamodt in third (.13 back of Miller's winning combined time of 3:18.41) — is amazing.
"That feeling is the same whether you're on either side of the hundredths. Obviously, it's great to win the world championship, but if you put down that kind of skiing, it's awesome either way."
What were you thinking about when you dropped to your knees after winning?
"Just thinking about I was feeling and what a battle it had been that day. Y'know, people discount the combined as a tough event because, I think, they see the downhillers not ski the best slalom or they see the slalom skiers not ski the best downhill…but, for the top guys, the guys who can ski both to a competitive level, it's the toughest event out there — emotionally and physically and mentally, it's abusive all day. It takes so long and you have ups and downs all day — adrenaline rushes followed by depressing realizations followed by pepping yourself up and inspecting, getting focused again, doing it over and over again, it just doesn't get any harder than that.
"For me, when I was alone there, I was just thinking about what a battle it had been and how good it felt to be done — and I would have done that if I'd been fourth or fifth, even, but to be on the right side of the hundredths today was obviously a real treat."
What happened in the downhill? He was 17th, 2.95 seconds behind Kjus.
"There's no telling — it's downhill. It could've been a gust of wind at the top, it could've been that I just got off-line in just the wrong spot and hit some soft snow. There's lots of loose snow up there. It can be as simple as missing the timing in one turn.
"There's so much going on in a downhill course like that. You really can't tell what it is you're doing that's making you slow. I've felt pretty comfortable on my downhill skis all year, and I've been competitive with most of the best guys, and I felt when I came across the line I felt like I could've won the run…and I looked up and saw I was three seconds out. That was one of the depressing realizations I was talking about."
How do you feel about being on the podium with Kjus and Aamodt?
"Similar to super G (where he tied for silver Sunday with Hermann Maier, behind Stephan Eberharter). I felt like when I was on the podium with Hermann and Eberharter in the super G, I was sharing the podium with the champions of the sport, and even though Aamodt was Olympic (SG) champion, those guys have been the dominant force, and it's the same thing here — these guys have been untouchable in combined for the last eight years, or it seems like foreveer for me. "And beyond that, they're great champions. They're personable. They're really friendly, and they conduct themselves the way you want to conduct yourself when you win. They showed why they're the greatest two champions in the big events in history (Aamodt has 11 worlds medals, seven in the Olympics; Kjus has 11 Worlds medals, five Olympic medals)…and to be up there with these guys…I've been really honored at this Championships to share the podium with the guys I have."
Can you comment on the American ski program, what's happening, what's going right, where do you see it going?
"Obviously, the feeling in the organization is pretty excited right now. We've got a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence we're doing the right stuff because the athletes are showing it, especially in the big championships.
"Last year, we had a little bit of a disappointing Olympics and I think we were able to move on past that pretty well, considering it was in our home country and there's added pressure for that. Here, already, we've racked up some medals and it's been through some performances that have surprised a few people.
"Those kind of performances obviously mean a lot to the organization because they believe in each of the athletes they support, and they work hard so we all get the opportunities to do these things. When each one of those athletes goes forth and puts down an effort that everyone can be proud of, I think that's really important. Once somebody does that, and once the feeling gets caught by the team, everyone wants to do it. It sounds easy when you say it that way, but I think that's what's happening."
On Austrian TV, you mentioned when you finished your downhill run and you were nearly three seconds (2.95) out, you didn't think you had a chance. At what point did you realize, 'Hey, I'm still in this.'
"It's not so much I thought I didn't have a chance. Like I've said, it's combined. You can always…people crash. In Kitzbuehel, both Kjetil and I blew out in the slalom, both in the second run of slalom, so I'm well aware of how precarious the lead can be, especially in combined. I just thought it was unlikely; there were enough guys there who were ahead of me or right with me who can ski very competitive slalom that I just thought it probably wasn't likely.
"But there was no question in my mind that I was gonna still go for it. I was still going for the win. I wasn't skiing for second or third place today, and in the end I think that's probably what got me there."
How good is it to beat Kjus and Aamodt today?
"It's not quite as important who you beat as that you end up on top. That's kind of the idea of the Championships…but to share the podium with the greatest champions the sport's ever seen, that's an honor that not that many people get to have. And especially it's happened to me twice this championships already, in two tries…to be on top, like I said, seven-hundredths is not a lot of time and it's definitely not for lack of trying. To know I got these guys by that little and I was on the right side of the hundredths…I've been on the wrong side lots of times, and today I was on the right side."