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Miller still passionate in 15th World Cup season

By Lynn Debruin

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, July 20 2011 7:05 p.m. MDT

Five-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller, left, talks with U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association sponsors and suppliers at an annual summit in Park City, Utah, Wednesday, July 20, 2011. Miller insisted Wednesday he is no longer in search of the perfect run. He is still passionate about making skiing more popular for future generations.

Lynn DeBruin, Associated Press

PARK CITY, Utah — Five-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller insisted Wednesday he's no longer in search of the perfect run. He is still passionate about making skiing more popular for future generations.

"I think mostly people look forward to the crashes unfortunately because a lot of the sport doesn't translate well into television," said the 33-year-old Miller, gearing up for his 15th World Cup season.

Miller talked Wednesday at an annual summit of U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association sponsors and suppliers.

"When people whiz by at 80 mph or whatever and they're out of sight after three seconds, that doesn't tend to inspire people the way we would like," Miller said.

He said the sport needs to make better use of modern technology, whether it takes installing more speed guns to show on TV or just at ordinary ski resorts in general. He even suggested allowing a contest winner to ski down an icy World Cup run after an event, even if it meant Miller was holding a safety harness.

Miller suggested doing the latter at Beaver Creek's Birds of Prey run in Colorado.

"I've always said have a raffle at the bottom and let somebody ski down the course, put them in a little baby harness so they can't go anywhere," Miller said. "I'll ski behind them and hold them back. Or if they're a (good) skier, let them run the thing full speed if they want to sign the waiver."

He said when an expert recreational skier finishes 39 seconds behind the winning time, it puts the skill, danger and level of commitment required to be a top racer in perspective.

Miller said it's hard for spectators to fathom that a champion such as Ted Ligety, "who is terrible in the air," will "fly" distances of 100 to 160 feet at a time on some of the world's steepest courses. He suggested resorts, in certain marked areas, allow skiers to track distance in the air by putting in jump markers.

Miller said newer events such as slopestyle and skicross better capture what recreational skiers or riders can do on their home mountain, "and that's the gap we're missing."

USSA marketing director Andrew Judelson gave Miller credit for taking time out of his schedule to spend nearly two days at the summit.

"What you're seeing is the maturation of an elite athlete," Judelson said. "There's a level of maturity where he channels that energy to a manner that's very constructive not only for him but for the next generation of ski racer."

Miller leaves for New Zealand in a few weeks for training with the U.S. team.

"I'm always excited about racing. I love racing," he said. "If I could set up a World Cup venue by myself and get it all sorted out, I probably would not be racing World Cup anymore. But that's the only way you can ski and turn and make jumps at that level. Otherwise you get your ticket pulled every time you try to do it at a regular mountain."

So does he plan to build his own World Cup-type venue? "No, that's something for later," he said, while noting it would be nice to have such an example for other resorts to follow.

As for how he keeps motivated when new ski team members are a dozen years or more younger, Miller hardly sounded like the bad-boy image he had for years.

"At some point you accept responsibility for your sport and try to help people in the future, try to make it better than when you came into it," Miller said.

He wasn't ready to call this his final season of World Cup racing.

"I have to see how I feel, how my injuries do," he said.

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