Monday, February 17, 2014

What Bode Miller Did

Thanks, Bode.

I've liked Bode Miller because, even though network coverage portrayed him in a variety of ways over the years -- slacker, partier, aloof, iconoclastic, old man of the slopes -- I always saw a guy who went about his business of skiing. Sometimes he won, sometimes he didn't.

When he finished his bronze-medal winning performance in the Super G, I saw NBC totally missing what was going on. NBC had Bode's wife Morgan miked, and she was all "Bode did great!" and she may have felt that way or at least wanted to portray that view of what had just happened.

What I saw Miller going through as he stood huffing at the bottom of the run was disappointment with his performance. He felt he could have done better, and his face clearly showed it. As best as I can recall, when he was interviewed at that point, he went clinically through his run, pointing out what he'd done wrong. He hoped his time would hold up, but he looked unconvinced.

It was fascinating to watch racer after racer try and fail to surpass Miller's time. In the end two did, and one actually managed to exactly match Miller's time.

Bode Miller won the Bronze and became the oldest Alpine medalist in Olympic history.

I'm not a sports expert, just an observer and a fan. What got me going here was not just the experience of watching the event unfold on TV but also reading about it in Slate. Justin Peters had an interesting take. Here's the segment that struck me:
In 2006, Miller discussed his style with Rolling Stone’s Grigoriadis: “I've been crashing forever, and coaches are like, ‘What are you doing? If you just backed off for a bit you'd be fine.’ I'm like, ‘What, you think I didn't know that?’ But am I going to back off? No. Because I like to do it this way, and I don't give a fuck if I crash.” His brother, Chelone Miller, apparently felt the same way; his seizures began after he crashed a motorcycle in 2006 while he wasn’t wearing a helmet. Grigoriadis asked Miller about his brother’s accident, and his answer was revealing:
But is the whole goal of life preserving your life as long as you can? No. The goal is to enjoy your life, to challenge yourself, to sometimes make stupid decisions, which are sometimes fun and sometimes idiotic and sometimes just a big, fat mistake that you regret. But the reason for it all is enjoyment; that's the reason for life. It is not that I don't recognize the danger in ski racing but that I don't fear the consequences. I mean, what's the worst that can happen? You die, I guess. You're all alone and you don't know anything. You're all done.
Wow. I live my life a little that way, but only just a little. Watching Bode Miller fly down the slopes at Sochi I was struck by his artistry. I didn't get, at first, that doing it he was putting so much on the line. And Miller did put all of it on the line, and he delivered. I'm grateful for having witnessed it.

No comments:

Post a Comment