September 24, 2009

Miller returns to U.S. ski team fold

Bode Miller, who cut ties with the U.S. skiing team three years ago, announced Thursday he was rejoining the squad in time for the Vancouver Olympics.

Miller, a two-time overall world champion and the winner of two silver medals at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, had been skiing without support from the American federation since he left the team following the 2006 Olympics in Turin.

U.S. Alpine Ski Coach Sasha Rearick said Miller recently contacted him and expressed the desire to rejoin the squad.

I am excited to be back with the guys and the team, Miller, a New Hampshire native who turns 32 Oct. 12, said at a news conference in Los Angeles. I look forward to taking advantage of the great program we have in place.

Because Bode is such a great competitor he's going to challenge everyone on the team to push their personal limits and strive for greater performances, Rearick said, adding he looks forward to Miller being a positive team member and leader on a squad he says has grown into a close-knit family.

Bode must still qualify for the American Olympic team that will compete in Vancouver next February, but if he does take part in the Games he will be a huge addition to a squad that already includes two-time women's overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn, Olympic champion Ted Ligety and World Cup race winners Marco Sullivan and Steven Nyman.

Miller failed to win a medal at the Turin Olympics and gained more attention for his late-night partying than for his below-form skiing.

Although the World Cup season begins next month in Europe, Miller is not expected to compete until the circuit moves to the United States in December.