Bode Miller, now a commentator for NBC, hopes to see some 'magical' skiing

Josh Peter

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — For someone who once talked publicly about skiing drunk, Bode Miller sounded exceptionally sober Sunday at the 2018 Winter Games.

Bode Miller was honored at the birds of Prey World Cup venue before the start of the men's downhill race in the 2017 FIS alpine skiing World Cup.

Preparing to make his Olympic debut as a TV analyst for NBC during the Alpine skiing competition, Miller said agreed with the decision to postpone the men’s downhill competition Sunday because of windy conditions.

“When I woke up and I saw the wind I was like, ‘God, I hope they don’t run today,’ because it would have just been a bummer to have a race decided by the weather, because that’s happened a lot in the past,’’ said Miller, 40, who retired in 2015 as the second-most decorated American skier in Olympics history with six medals, including one gold. “Even if they could’ve done it safely, it wouldn’t have been a very fair race.’’

Interestingly enough, safety wasn’t always of utmost concern to Miller, who during a 60 Minutes interview in 2006 said, “If you ever tried to ski when you're wasted, it's not easy.

“Try and ski a slalom when ... you hit a gate less than every one second, so it’s risky. You're putting your life at risk. ... It's like driving drunk, only there are no rules about it in ski racing."

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It’s too early to say if things could get as dangerous — or entertaining — when Miller is in the broadcast booth with veteran NBC analyst Dan Hicks. But if an an interview with Miller on Sunday was an indication, it’s unlikely he will emerge as the Charles Barkley of ski racing commentary.

In preparation for his Olympic debut, Miller provided commentary last year during two NBC ski telecasts — without incident.

“I think I commentate in a slightly different fashion than some of the previous commentators, who were really focused on talking about the racer as they came down and sort of saying that was a good turn or this is a bad turn or this is crappy skiing,’’ Miller told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m more talking broad strokes, about the type of skier and how they are likely to win or the challenges they’re facing on the hill. So it’s a bit more conversational .

“Every once in a while you’ll start bobbling around or something gets stuck in your head. Because a lot of this stuff is totally on the fly. I’m not rehearsing anything.’’

With his skis at the ready, Miller said he had planned to inspect the men’s downhill course before the event was postponed and that he likely will inspect other slopes. But don’t even bother asking him about a possible competitive comeback.

“No chance,’’ he said.

Though Miller said he’s looking forward to watching American stars Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shriffin, he sounded just as enthuasiastic about potential surprises on the mountain.

“That’s what’s great about the Olympics, is nobody knows,’’ he said. “I always look for inspiration, or those kind of magical runs where somebody really gets the very best out of themselves. 

“Whether they get seventh because they normally would’ve gotten 50th or they win with a spectacular run, you just never know where that’s going to come from. It’s one of the great things about the Games.’’