COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. — Bode Miller banged his way through the giant slalom course as only he can, scraping his knuckle in a fall and later bloodying his elbow after a collision with a gate.
As anyone paying attention to skiing over the past dozen or so years knows by now, the five-time Olympic medalist simply does not hold back – even in a training run while trying to get his surgically repaired left knee, the one that sidelined him last season, healthy in time for the Sochi Games. It still aches, but not as bad as, say, a decade ago.
These days, the progress of that balky knee isn’t the only thing weighing on his mind.
Miller is involved in a very public custody case over his son – the 9-month-old child’s legal name is Samuel Bode after his father, but Miller calls him Nathaniel. The birth mother, Sara McKenna, with whom Miller had a brief relationship, currently has custody of the child in New York.
Another court hearing is set for Monday, after Miller’s races at Beaver Creek this weekend.
“I’d love him to be here,” Miller said in a recent interview. “He’s got a great attitude, a great spirit. He loves to do stuff, loves being around me. It’s tough to think about him sitting in an apartment in New York.”
Miller worries that he’s been perceived by some as the bad guy in a back-and-forth that has received plenty of media attention and become a rallying point for women’s rights advocates.
“There’s none of this ‘trying to take a kid away from his mom.’ We tried to file for joint custody,” said Miller, who has a 5-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
“It’s what every parent would do,” he added. “We’re not trying to do anything crazy. We just have to go through the process.”
As that drama unfolds, a newer, slimmer Miller is trying to get ready for the Sochi Games. Miller said his knee still occasionally gives him grief, especially after a grueling training session.
“But it doesn’t hurt more than it has the last 10 years,” he said. “It’s nothing too new there.”
This pain, he can endure, though, after undergoing a microfracture surgery nearly two years ago that could have ended his career.
“Skiing is a tough sport,” said Miller, who finished 16th in a downhill race last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta. “It doesn’t really give you a lot back sometimes.”
Still, most days he’s actually relishing the process of getting back up to speed.
“It’s frustrating to make the same stupid mistakes that I’ve made before now again, because I don’t have the time for it,” Miller said. “But it’s been good. It’s gone well.
“I mean, there’s always more stuff to do, there’s always more challenges. But yeah, physically, I can’t complain.”