KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — The rigors of the Alpine skiing courses at Rosa Khutor, the Bear’s Brow Jump and Lake Jump, the bumps and ruts along the way, proved too much for Bode Miller and his surgically-repaired left knee. Following a 20th-place finish in the men’s giant slalom Wednesday, Miller, 36, said he would not compete in Saturday’s slalom race. Considering the most successful American male ski racer of all time will be 40 when the next Winter Games take place, the giant slalom was likely the last race of his Olympic career.
“It’s tough to have my last race here look like this,” said Miller, who plans to finish the World Cup season. “But I feel really good about where I’m at. I came back really strong [from knee surgery]. I really did a lot of work. I put in the time. That leaves me with a really positive feeling. I feel like I did my best.
“Obviously, I feel like I was capable of more. But my effort and intensity were as good as I can possibly put out there. The Olympics is always a super-challenging situation because you come in and want to do everything you can. But only one guy wins. I really feel like I did what I could. I came out with a medal, so I’m happy.”
Miller earned a bronze in the super-G, adding it to his collection of five other Olympic medals. His cache includes gold from the super combined in Vancouver, as well as silver in super-G and bronze in the downhill from the same Games. He also earned silvers in the giant slalom and combined at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
Miller, raised in Franconia, N.H., had another chance at gold in the downhill in Sochi after posting most of the fastest training runs and entering the downhill as the favorite. When he finished eighth, it came after a huge disappointment. He came in sixth in the super combined.
Miller did his left knee no favors on the demanding giant slalom course Wednesday, mentioning in his postrace comments that he tweaked it and that the “knee’s not in super shape.” And he did not have the confidence in his knee that he needed for an event like slalom that puts a lot of stress on the joint.
“It’s been a management process all year,” said Miller. “This is no different. I’ve had to skip training and do all kinds of things to try and manage it. I’ve got to take care of it. That’s the way it goes when you’re skiing, especially at my age.”
Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.