The thing Bode Miller likes most about an Olympic medal is the risk required to win one — even if it means losing a bunch, too.
Miller goes for broke on the slopes, and he's proud of it. He even knocks opponents who ski more conservatively.
“I'm taking more risk than everyone else,” Miller told an Associated Press reporter who caught up with him as he sneaked down a slope to avoid the media after failing to finish the first run of Tuesday's giant slalom.
He had just clipped a gate with his glove and veered off-course.
He had almost crashed earlier in the run and was trying to make up time on the lower half.
“I do go that way, all the time,” Miller said. “I am willing to deal with the consequences, when a lot of guys aren't willing to deal with those consequences, so they don't take the risk.”
Miller has always straddled the line between control and chaos.
It worked in the first three races at Whistler, when he won three medals — gold in super-combined, silver in super-G and bronze in downhill.
It didn't work Tuesday, when he was going for a record fourth Alpine medal but instead failed to finish.
No matter what happens, though, Miller will never second-guess his style. That's the way he's skied his entire career.
“About 400 races and 13 or 14 years in, that's what he does,” Miller's agent, Lowell Taub, said by telephone from New York. “And sometimes it leads him to medals, and sometimes it leads him to 'DNF.'”
As in “Did Not Finish” — as in what he did in three of five races in Turin in 2006.
Miller's hold-nothing-back approach is in stark contrast with that of Switzerland's Carlo Janka, who won the giant slalom with an effortless performance. The 23-year-old Janka is so cool on the course that his nickname is “The Iceman.”
“He's a smooth skier, doesn't really panic,” Canada's Erik Guay said. “He's able to flow so well. He's a great young skier.”
And the complete opposite of Miller, right?
“Bode is a pretty smooth skier as well. He takes a lot of chances, a lot of risks sometimes. He looks wild,” Guay said.
At 32, this is Miller's fourth — and almost certainly last — Olympics. He made his debut at Nagano in 1998 and won two silver medals at Salt Lake City in 2002.
He has one final chance, in Saturday's slalom, to become the first man to win four Alpine medals at a single Winter Games.
Only four others have won three. Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway has three in Vancouver, and his former teammate, Kjetil Andre Aamodt, got his at Lillehammer in 1994. Austria's Toni Sailer swept all three Alpine races held in 1956 at Cortina, Italy, and French great Jean-Claude Killy did the same at Grenoble in 1968.
“That's what we're focusing on now, I guess,” Miller said. “I knew I had to ski great today to give myself a chance. I came out of the gate doing it. There's very small margin of error for me on this course. Slalom is the same way. … I'll have a good chance to rest now, get charged up for it.”
Four years ago, Miller was touted as the headliner going into the Turin Games, but left empty-handed, with more attention focused on his social life than his skiing.
Vancouver has been a completely different experience. His hard-charging style hasn't changed, just the results.
“When I look back on my career, it's hard to believe the (stuff) I've been able to pull off,” Miller said. “I take everything with a grain of salt. There are a million variables. But I also take some credit for it.”
He doesn't pay much attention to pressure or give much thought to expectations. He's focused only on skiing his way.
“My pressure is to do what I expect of myself,” Miller said. “To go out there and say I have pressure on me to win a medal, that's the most asinine pressure to put on yourself. It's not in your control at all.
“Whereas, my intensity is under my control,” Miller said. “It's not like you just push the button and go. You've got to get the right setup, all your ducks in a row mentally, and let it go.”