PARK CITY -- USA Alpine skier Bode Miller is heading to his fourth Olympics, and is still seeking his first Olympic gold medal.
Miller remembers Salt Lake City fondly -- that's where he won both of his Olympic silver medals. Of course the talented, free-spirit skier has dominated in World Cup competition over the years with 32 wins and five world championship medals; four golds.
The 32-year-old has also just announced his plans to race in five Olympic events at Whistler, starting with the Olympic Downhill on Feb. 13, plus the Super-G, Giant Slalom, Slalom, and Super-Combined.
Miller is in Park City fine tuning his training and equipment, and while he's certainly looking forward to his last Olympics, he spoke candidly to KSL's Tom Kirkland about his disillusionment with the direction of the Olympics.
"I just saw it negatively. I think it's just the wrong direction. I think the Olympics is going the wrong direction. I think, you know, it's much more money oriented, it's much more fame oriented. Everyone is looking to cash in on the Olympics now.
"And the Olympics, originally, was an amateur sporting event. It was supposed to be about, you know, culture and about different nations all coming together, you know, and letting an area or country, you know, exhibit their culture to the world because, you know, they had exposure they normally wouldn't have.
"It's the inevitable shift in sports, I suppose, when there is this much money ... I just know it too well from the inside to have the naïve approach and the naïve opinion that I had of it when I went in '98 or whatever.
"There's been a huge shift in the last five Olympics. You know, you look at five Olympics ago it was a whole different deal. I mean, the money that goes into it; the whole process has changed a lot. It's a lot more political and a lot more money being thrown around to make those decisions and influence things. And the athletes are cashing in a lot more out of it. So, you know, it's not really the direction I would like to see things go, but I understand that it's the way things are."
Miller said he still felt the Olympic spirit. He said, "When you are going to the opening ceremonies, you know, it is an unbelievable experience and that stuff is the only stuff that's holding it together. It's commercial stuff and the scandalous political stuff that's really trying to take it apart. But, you know, they're in a constant struggle. It's just right now the way the world is and the way the culture is, it kind of gives the upper hand to that other negative side of things."
He also spoke glowingly about the rise of Park City's talented 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety.
"He's really sturdy and strong," Miller said. "He's had no injuries, which is one of the most important things in being a ski racer, is being durable enough to train really hard and race really hard and not break yourself. If you get those setbacks, those are what really end up hurting you in the long run.
"But with his speed right now, he's got the right kind of approach. He doesn't put a ton of pressure on himself, but at the same time he knows what to expect himself. He knows he's going to push 100 percent when he goes in there ... I'd expect him to ski well."