After a horrific crash Thursday, former World Cup Champion and Olympic gold medalist Bode Miller has been ruled out of the rest of the Alpine World Ski Championships in Colorado and his long and prestigious career may be coming to a close. The 37-year-old hit a flag near the end of the Super G course and severely lacerated his right leg, requiring surgery on his hamstring.
Miller was competing in his first race of the season. He had missed the beginning of the World Cup campaign because of back surgery. The race at Beaver Creek resort was full of mishaps and accidents, with more than a dozen skiers not finishing the race.
Miller’s crash, however, was particularly gruesome. Television cameras showed him hooking a flag toward the end of his run, being spun around and then a close-up of a grisly gash on his right leg. Miller is known for his all-out style and had the fastest first-half split time of any skier before crashing.
“Bode was skiing outstanding,” U.S. men's alpine head coach Sasha Rearick said. "He was going for it, absolutely sending it from top to bottom. Took risks and was putting down a run that he knew inspired America and inspire the world. Unfortunately he caught his arm on the gate.”
Austrian Hannes Reichelt eventually won the race. Before Miller crashed he was attempting to become the oldest gold medalist in an individual event at the world championships.
Such an accident may mean Miller will decide to retire. His bad back had already raised doubts about a return next year and the hamstring injury adds to injury woes. Miller has openly suggested retirement may be near.
Few skiers have enjoyed as much success as Miller. He has won six Olympic medals (one gold, three silver, two bronze), four World Championships and two overall World Cup championships, which would make for a full career if he does decide to leave the sport.
The good-humored skiing legend is arguably the most decorated and most recognizable American skier of all-time though he has shown signs of slipping from his top form. In the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Miller earned a bronze in the Super G. Meanwhile, Ted Ligety won the gold in the Giant slalom, an event Miller won in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. In some ways, the rise of Ligety and the decline of Miller may have been somewhat of a passing of the torch from one American skiing superstar to another.
After the crash, Miller took the injury in stride. The New Hampshire native tweeted things could have been worse, thanked the hospital that performed his surgery and even found comedy in the situation, referencing a classic Monty Python skit.
Out of a successful surgery for a severed hamstring tendon. Feeling lucky since things could have been way worse. pic.twitter.com/1jKhhDSRR9
— Bode Miller (@MillerBode) February 6, 2015
— Adrian Brand (@adrianbrand) February 6, 2015