NEW YORK — Bode Miller moved fluidly across a tennis court Monday, trading crisp groundstrokes with a Grand Slam doubles champion.
This was a charity event, not an unorthodox conditioning session — though it’s true his training regimen is different during the current World Cup season than in past years. He didn’t decide until September to return to competition, a date when he’d normally be almost done with his preparations away from the slopes.
Typically the two-time World Cup overall champion wouldn’t lift weights the week of a race. But that’s exactly what he was doing last Tuesday. On Thursday he played squash and basketball, then from Friday to Sunday he skied the World Cup event in Beaver Creek, Colo.
“That stuff definitely doesn’t help your performance on the weekend,” Miller said. “But it’s what needs to be done right now because of my time frame.”
And he expects it will need to be done all the way up to February’s Vancouver Olympics.
The 32-year-old Miller was fourth in the downhill Saturday but did not finish Friday’s super combined or Sunday’s giant slalom.
“I feel great when I’m skiing,” he said. “Everything feels good. But it’s definitely different. I can notice small differences. I notice differences in my movement, too, just because the way different muscles are conditioned now than in the past.”
Fatigue means he’s not quite as sharp by the end of a three-day event. His fitness level probably hurt him when he made a mistake at the bottom of Saturday’s downhill, although Miller said it didn’t cost him enough time to make a difference in the standings.
“Had I been a little bit more strong, a little bit more conditioned, I probably could’ve made the recovery without losing any time,” he said.
On Monday, Miller was on the other side of the country, hosting an event at an indoor tennis center in Manhattan. Hublot unveiled its new “Bode Bang” limited edition watch; a portion of the sales will go to his Turtle Ridge Foundation.
Miller took the court with two-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champ Justin Gimelstob, Olympic fencing silver medalist Tim Morehouse and “Gossip Girl” actor Sebastian Stan. He then held a clinic for children from the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program, a beneficiary of his foundation.
Miller looked comfortable in the spotlight — a glare that won’t shine as brightly heading into Vancouver as it did four years ago, when he was supposed to be one of the Americans’ biggest stars.
“For me personally, I don’t feel very much different at all,” Miller said. “A lot of it is perception. Expectations are different. People aren’t putting words in my mouth now.
“Everyone’s saying, ‘OK, why are you doing this?’ I can say honestly, it’s because I love the sport. I love working with kids. I like to be a role model. I’m trying to help the team; the team is trying to help me. It’s all positive now.”
AP PHOTO BY ALESSANDRO TROVATI
Bode Miller looks back at the race course after his run in the men’s World Cup downhill ski race Saturday in Beaver Creek, Colo.