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Miller is back after year off, ready for ski season to start

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The Canadian Press
10/24/2013 3:22:50 PM
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SOELDEN, Austria -- Bode Miller was back on the World Cup circuit and the cameras were flashing when the American showed up at a sponsor's event to preview the Olympic ski season on Thursday.

Miller's mind, however, was clearly elsewhere.

When he left the stage area and moved to the back of the room to greet his wife, pro volleyball player Morgan Miller, and play with his baby boy, Nathaniel, the cameras hadn't caught up to him yet but Miller's smile couldn't have been wider.

"There's a lot to World Cup and having your most important people around you is something that has always been important to me," Miller said later. "Before, I had Jake (Serino, a childhood friend) and sometimes family and my Uncle Mike has been a coach. ... But now I have my own family over here and it's just the logical sort of step and I feel really, really good about it."

Another reason Miller feels good is that the U.S. Ski Team has surrounded him with familiar faces on its coaching staff as the two-time overall World Cup winner and Olympic combined champion returns after taking last season off to let his surgically repaired left knee fully heal.

The staff is led by Miller's good friend Forest Carey and his uncle Mike Kenney, who has rejoined the team after a yearlong sabbatical.

"They're just good people to have around for the team, too. It obviously benefits me but for everybody there's a benefit," said Miller, who will ski in Sunday's giant slalom on Rettenbach glacier. "Those guys are really knowledgeable, they love the sport and they've seen success at the highest level."

Carey and Kenney were coaches on Miller's breakaway personal team when he won his second overall title in 2008.

"It's designed to keep Bode inspired and also to keep him accountable," U.S. men's head coach Sasha Rearick said. "Both of those guys do an amazing job."

Miller's former roommate on the circuit, Erik Schlopy, is an assistant coach on the technical team, and Miller noted a transformation in experience among the staff.

"I can't speak highly enough of how far the team has come in the last 17 years since I first made the team," Miller said. "There's been times where I've been pretty down, and it's been a fun process to be a part of."

Of course, it wasn't just the staff whom Miller returned for, or even the Sochi Olympics in February.

"I've been to four (Olympics) before and I don't think one more is going to do much to change anything at this point," Miller said. "I came back because I had the chance to. ... I'm doing it because I believe I can do it."

Miller's family situation -- he had his one-year wedding anniversary this month -- has coincided with an improved physical condition. He lost 20 pounds (9 kilograms) during his year off.

All the changes helped Miller avoid thinking about retiring.

"I'm in a much more healthy place in general," he said. "Just motivation-wise, the balance in the rest of my life -- my fitness, my health, my body. Those are all things that make you want to retire. Right now all of those things are much better than they've been in the last 10 years. That's the biggest factor for me."

As Miller spoke, scores of European journalists stuck microphones in his face, at one point nearly toppling over a table he was standing in front of. But Miller, who would once run away from such a scene, kept his composure.

"You get better at every part of this," he said. "(The media attention) doesn't bother me as much as it used to. I wouldn't say it's your skin getting thicker, just maturity does different things to you."

Bode Miller (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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