Bode Miller inducted to Hall of Fame
Miller reflects on his career, family and new life in Big Sky
By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER
Editor’s note: The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame is inducting the classes of 2021 and 2022 at Big Sky Resort on March 24 and 25. To commemorate the event, EBS published a special section with profiles of each inductee. Grab a copy on the shelves to read more about the athletes who have shaped the winter sports that help make Big Sky a world-class community.
Bode Miller, a world-champion alpine racer and familiar face around town, will be inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame on Friday, March 24 in Big Sky.
Born in 1977, Miller grew up in Franconia, New Hampshire and learned to ski at nearby Cannon Mountain before attending Carrabassett Valley Academy to train at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine. He made his Olympic debut in 1998 and returned to the following four, winning one gold, three silver and two bronze medals. He also earned five World Championship medals, 33 World Cup victories and two World Cup overall globes.
When asked about his induction, Miller told Explore Big Sky it feels like his career is far behind him.
He said skiers don’t focus much on the Hall of Fame. But it’s a chance to celebrate the whole process, Miller said, and recognize family members, coaches and community members who supported him and don’t always get credit, especially from early years. Little conversations, little bits of support and encouragement helped him balance success on a knife-edge, he said.
“I think the Hall of Fame is kind of putting a bow on the whole thing, right?” Miller said.
He’s excited that induction will be here in Big Sky, where he can help create a positive experience as he hosts a tour of the Spanish Peaks Club and a party for Peak skis—the ski manufacturer he co-founded in 2021.
Miller keeps ties with the East Coast through the Turtle Ridge Foundation, which raises awareness and donates money to organizations focused on youth and adaptive athletes. He founded Turtle Ridge with his family in 2005, the same year he started the BodeFest Ski Challenge, a fundraiser at Cannon to support TRF’s benefactors. Miller and his 10-year-old son made a quick trip to New Hampshire for BodeFest after speaking with EBS on March 15.
“It’s an opportunity for the local community to unify, come together, and have fun,” Miller said.
‘Never an automaton’
As a racer, he’s most proud of winning all five disciplines—slalom, giant slalom, super G, downhill and combined—in just 16 days during the 2004-05 World Cup season, one of two men ever to do so. He’s also the only male skier to win five or more times in each event, according to the Hall of Fame.
He said sweeping against single-event specialists was his most difficult feat of raw skiing. He’s also proud of his approach: his discipline, his stubbornness, and his ability to deal with pressure.
“And I definitely was able to maintain my love for the sport,” Miller said. “I think a lot of people start off one way and ultimately are pushed into treating the sport or the competitions a different way. And that kind of sucks a bit of the fun out of it, I think. That’s something I was proud of. I really loved it all the way ‘til the end.”
When asked how his unique style represented the United States, Miller said it’s impossible for one person to represent such a diverse country, but he was authentic to himself.
“I think that’s what being an American really is, on a bigger scale, right?” he said. “I was different enough that it was pretty clear to most people… Not just in the way that I skied, but the way that I approached competition, the way that I approached all sorts of things. And of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, you know, sometimes you get in [trouble] for that. But I also think that’s kind of an American quality. We don’t typically toe the company line as often.”
He was an individual, “never an automaton,” like many Austrians who are “stamped out of a mold” from what they say to how they ski, Miller said. He was proud to be different.
He still enjoys skiing. He recently cruised with his 74-year-old father. He gets out with his eight kids and his wife, Morgan, all of whom are at different levels of learning the sport.
“I don’t really feel compelled to go out and go hard all the time. I’ve done that plenty,” he said.
When asked about his favorite local terrain, Miller raved about the Lone Peak Tram: “In North America and the world in general… it’s some of the coolest terrain.”
An innovator with a full plate
Peak Ski Company began selling skis this winter. Miller said it’s much bigger than it looks from the surface as they work to build quality skis, make their business model sustainable and process feedback. Next, he’ll begin chipping away at some of the bigger projects tied to Peak.
Projects include giving the U.S. Ski Team an edge with American-made race skis, and educating consumers on things like sliding-track bindings.
Miller tinkered with the mount-point on his Peaks, drilling four sets of holes within a centimeter and a half and testing each. He likes track bindings, as the user doesn’t need to commit to a single mount or drill multiple holes. But track bindings aren’t well-understood.
He said his son was afraid of the dentist. Bode told him the dentist was scary 100 years ago, but in recent decades, “it might not be pleasant, but it’s no worse than anything else, really. I mean, you might get a poke from a needle, but generally they numb you up.”
Miller shared that story with EBS to show “the longevity of a misinformed rumor,” and concluded that in the last five or six years, track bindings have become “as good as any other binding on the planet.”
His kids are aged 15, 10, 7, 4, 3, 3 and 1. Miller also counts their daughter who passed away and would be 6. EBS asked if there are any lessons from his skiing career that he’d like to share with his kids. Miller said he mostly tries to lead by example, and practices patience.
“Honestly, I don’t really presume to be able to tell them much,” he said. “I think your community does a lot of the parenting just because [kids] interact with other parents who they actually do listen to, usually, and other kids and their teachers and coaches… I do try to teach them basic respect and understanding and some fundamental stuff.”
Two Millers are enrolled in Ophir Elementary School, one is in Discovery Academy, and four haven’t started school.
A big name in a small town
Miller joked that everybody is equally famous back in N.H., and people don’t blow things out of proportion—he’s seen as a person who got good at skiing and had some success. He couldn’t spend much time at home throughout his career but added that it hasn’t changed much across four decades.
He’s lived in Austin, Park City, San Diego—on his boat—and Orange County, Calif. His sister attended Montana State, so he poked around Bozeman, Bridger Bowl and Big Sky in the late 1990s. He returned to Big Sky for U.S. Ski Team fundraisers and Yellowstone Club events.
Three years ago, the Millers made Big Sky home.
Bode praised the community for seeking an amazing outdoor lifestyle, and for having small-town accountability.
“It’s [a lot of] good people who help out when they can, take care of your kids when they can,” Miller said. “It’s kind of like extended family, which I love because that’s how I grew up as well.”
He’s not here for the transient population and interloping tourists, he said, or small-town rumors and jibber jabber.
“But again, I grew up with that, so it’s not unusual to me. And I think, in general, it’s been awesome.”
He’s met great people, most of whom connect with skiing in a different way than he did. He said the fanfare has mellowed out since his athletic prime, and in Big Sky, locals relax about the fame he carries once they get to know him.
“I don’t need to, you know, leverage [my skiing success],” he said. “I can I have sort of credibility outside of just being a ski racer as well.”