KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — The way Bode Miller skis, vision is everything.
So it was somewhat surprising when the most decorated Alpine skier in U.S. ski team history revealed Tuesday that he needs Lasik eye surgery and regrets not having had it before the Olympics. After dominating the training sessions, Miller finished a disappointing eighth in Sunday's downhill race.
"I was supposed to get an eye surgery earlier this year," said Miller, who has won five Olympic medals. "We just never found the time to do it because the race schedule was so tight. We were pretty (upset) looking back on that that we hadn't figured out a time to do that, because for me my vision is critical."
The downhill training sessions were held in clear sunshine, but clouds moved in for race day. "When the light is perfect I can ski with any of the best guys in the world. When it goes out, my particular style suffers more than the guys who are more stable and sort of don't do as much in the middle of the turns," the 36-year-old Miller said after leading the opening training session for Friday's super-combined race, in which he is the defending gold medalist.
Miller spent Monday analyzing video to see what went wrong during his downhill run. "At the end of the day we all kind of concluded the fault came down to me," Miller said. "Forest (Carey, an assistant coach with the U.S. team who has worked extensively with Miller for years) made it pretty concise in four words: 'I don't win when the sun is not out.'"
Miller agreed with the assessment. "I haven't won in five years when the sun is not out," he said. Miller took last season off to let his left knee fully recover from microfracture surgery. He has also been dealing with a lot off the slopes, including a custody battle over an infant son and the death of his younger brother in April of what was believed to be a seizure.
Still, he showed a return to form over the past month and had high hopes for the Olympic downhill, which was won by Matthias Mayer of Austria. "It was a pretty big letdown. This was my main focus coming into the year," Miller said. "I think everyone wants to find the answers as to why it didn't go better."
Miller rejected debate about whether hitting a gate on the top section slowed him down. "That in itself didn't slow me down at all," he said. "That turn was a (bad) turn but it was probably equal to the turns I made in the training runs there. The difference really was the snow conditions."
With the snow softer than during the training sessions, Miller's sharp-edged skis dug too far into the snow. He wondered if it would have helped to change his equipment. "In hindsight, yeah," he said. "But at the time I think we made the right choice. ... After winning the training runs the way we did it would be a tough call to be like, 'The weather is changing, we're just going to completely throw a dart in the dark and hope it hits.' We had to stick with what we knew."
Miller also acknowledged his frustration. "I was angry for a little while, and disappointed. But really I skied hard. I really did ski with everything I have. So I didn't really feel like there was much to be too upset about," he said. "But I know this sport pretty well and when the conditions change like that you have to make the adjustments. And if you don't and someone else does than that's it."
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