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Bode Miller returns to U.S. ski team, points to 2010 Olympics

The gifted but undisciplined Miller had split with the squad after flopping at the 2006 Games and recently contemplated retirement. A phone call from U.S. coach Sasha Rearick changed that.

September 25, 2009|Chris Dufresne

Ready or not, world, Bode is back.

Bode Miller, the enigmatically talented and bombastic ski racer who bombed out at the 2006 Turin Olympics before splitting with the U.S. ski team, announced at a Thursday news conference at Staples Center that he was returning to the squad in advance of the 2010 Vancouver Games.

"This is an opportunity for me to have the best runs of my life," he said.

A self-proclaimed nonconformist, Miller left the team in an acrimonious parting after the 2006 Olympics during which he failed to medal in five events and spent many nights cavorting at drinking establishments in the Italian Alps.

Paying his own way on the World Cup circuit, Miller won his second overall title in 2008 but left the tour last spring as he contemplated retirement and all but counted himself out for another Olympic run.

A phone call last spring from U.S. ski team men's Coach Sasha Rearick initiated a dialogue that led to Miller's being invited back on the team.

"We talked a lot about heart," Rearick said. He also added, "I'm going to hold Bode accountable to effort."

Miller, who won two silver medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, will turn 32 in October.

"At this point, I have a chance to be part of a program that leaves no stone unturned," he said.

Miller said he was "a far cry" from being in race shape and will begin a six-week training regimen with the U.S. team.

Miller has been reinstated to the U.S. ski team's "A" team but, like all racers, will have to qualify for a spot on the Olympic team.

Miller said he would race in Vancouver "if I qualify for it."

Miller did not apologize for his actions in Italy or past acts of insubordination while on the ski team. "My actions will speak more loudly than any apology does," he said.

When asked if he was returning to undo some of the wrongs he has committed, Miller responded: "As far as I know, I don't think you can undo anything."

Miller, believed by many to be a once-in-a-generation talent in Alpine racing, holds the American record with 31 World Cup victories.

"I appreciate Bode's wishes to look forward and not backward, and to focus on what it means to represent the United States as an ambassador for sport and the Olympic movement," U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Larry Probst said in a statement.

Miller's return will boost an already strong Alpine squad, led by two-time women's overall World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn and returning gold medalists from Turin -- Julia Mancuso and Ted Ligety.

"He has so much speed and his skiing is so innovative," Ligety said. "It's going to be a huge advantage for us to be able to train with him on a regular basis."

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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