KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia >> Bode Miller’s Sochi Olympics are over, one race earlier than he had hoped.
Given that he’ll be 40 by the time the 2018 Games roll around, the American’s Olympic career might very well be done, too.
Miller will skip the last event on the Alpine schedule, the slalom, after tweaking his surgically repaired left knee while finishing 20th in Wednesday’s giant slalom with a two-run time of 2 minutes, 47.82 seconds, more than 2 1/2 seconds slower than gold medalist Ted Ligety.
Miller tweeted: “I’m bummed I’m out for the slalom, I wanted a miracle. Thank you all for the amazing support, it’s been incredible.”
He leaves with a bronze in the super-G, making the 36-year-old Miller the oldest Alpine skier to win a medal. It also was his sixth Olympic medal, which ranks second among men in Alpine history and is tied for second among U.S. Winter Olympians in all sports.
In his other Sochi events, Miller finished eighth in the downhill and sixth in the super-combined.
“I feel like I was capable of more,” he said Wednesday, “but my effort and my intensity were as good as I could possibly put out there.”
Miller missed all of last season while coming back from an operation on his left knee. He said Wednesday that the knee bothered him after the super-G, and it’s been swollen during the Sochi Olympics.
“It’s kind of been going up and down this whole couple of weeks here, after I took some fluid out of it. The problem is once you keep fluid in your knee for a while, it starts to irritate everything. You’re better off trying to get it out immediately,” Miller said. “This is pretty aggressive stuff for the lower leg — the snow is so grippy and just jerks you around nonstop.”
He plans to finish the current World Cup season, which resumes at the end of next week after the Olympics, “barring something going weird with my knee,” Miller said.
“It’s been kind of a management process all year, so this is really no different,” continued Miller, who wore a “Happy Birthday” greeting in black marker on his white gloves, because his daughter turned 6 on Wednesday. “I’ve got to take care of it. I’ve had to skip training and do all kind of things just to manage it and that’s the way it goes when you’re skiing, especially at my age.”
U.S. men’s head coach Sasha Rearick said he was proud of Miller’s effort at the Sochi Games and the work it took to get ready.
“The fanatics of skiing love watching Bode, because he’s such an inspirational skier,” Rearick said. “He’s brought fans to the sport. They absolutely love him, because he brings charisma and inspiration in the way he skis and it’s fun to watch.”
Rearick joked that he might “lose a little few less gray hairs” when Miller decides to retire.
On the other hand, Rearick also pointed out that if he’d been asked after the 2010 Vancouver Games whether he thought those would be the American star’s last Olympics, he “would have said yes.”