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More mumbo-jumbo, no medals for Miller

February 15, 2009 |  2:55 pm


Bode Miller now is 0 for 3, 0 for 4 or 0 for 15.

That means Miller has not won a medal in 15 events of the three major championships in the last four years.

At the 2009 worlds that ended Sunday in Val d'Isere, France, he failed to finish three races, including the first run of Sunday's slalom, and his top finish was eighth in the downhill.

But he did criticize the three medalists in the super-giant slalom because they skied defensively on a course that demanded it.  He, by comparison, threw away a medal in the combined by skiing like a mad fool in the slalom leg and missing a gate, and he was 12th in the Super-G.

He was better in the 2007 worlds: sixth, seventh, 15th, 24th, one DNF.

And, sort of, in the 2006 Olympics: fifth, sixth, two DNFs, one disqualification.

That means he has finished barely half his races (eight of 15) in the last three world championships.

Now there is no question he caught a very bad break in the 2009 downhill, forced to ski through fog so thick the race should have been stopped. And Miller has been battling an ankle injury all season.

But the man who is rightly called the greatest male skier in U.S. history is struggling as never before.

After a 2008 season in which he won the World Cup title with six race victories and five other podium finishes, Miller has not won a race, made the podium just twice and had only four other top-10 finishes this season.

"The results are disappointing, the skiing wasn't,'' Miller said on Sunday.

That was typical Miller mumbo-jumbo, explaining away his failures by insisting, like an artist whose paintings don't sell, that the way he skis, in some search for the ethereal, counts for more than medals.

In an interview last week with Alan Abrahamson of Universal Sports, Miller mentioned he might skip the 2010 Olympics, saying it was "probably likely'' he would retire after this season.

Miller did the same dance the year before the 2006 Olympics.  It made big news because he was coming off a 2005 season in which he won the World Cup overall and world titles in downhill and Super-G.  There was almost a "say it ain't so'' reaction from the non-ski-specialist media, who were told Miller was a ski genius and had yet to discover Miller is a tedious bore given to statements that smack of hypocrisy.

He worried in 2005 that winning a bunch of gold medals would make it hard for him to lead a normal life.  But he likes the life of success, with its Porsches and fast groupies and the rest of the accouterments.

That was no issue after his performance at the 2006 Olympics.

And he is no issue heading toward the 2010 Winter Games, even if he may decide to compete and probably still is capable of getting the Olympic gold medal so lacking from his resume, but not the resumes of nearly all the other great skiers in history.

I leave the last word to John Meyer of the Denver Post, who has paid close attention to skiing for years.

His Saturday blog was headlined, "Bode has become irrelevant -- does anybody care?''

You know the answer.

-- Philip Hersh

Photo: An all-too-familiar sight: Bode Miller failing to finish, this time in the first run of the men's slalom Sunday at the world championships.  Credit: Alessandro Trovati / Associated Press