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Kiszla: Bode Miller skis like a rebel and cries like a man
First Published Feb 17 2014 02:41 pm • Last Updated Feb 25 2014 04:52 pm

Bode Miller is not dead. So he cried. And the tears made him feel alive.

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Miller wept without shame, his cheeks awash in emotion, after he became the oldest alpine skier in Olympic history to win a medal with a third-place finish Sunday in the super-G.

At age 36, Bode Miller remains a red, white and blue rebel, doing it his way on the hill, inviting a legion of critics to kiss his ski tails. The American rebel wept for his dead brother, Chelone Miller, a snowboarder who had dreamed of competing at the 2014 Games until he passed away last spring after suffering a seizure in the van that served as his home.

Bode Miller wept because he’s still alive and kicking.

"Everybody thought I was joking, back when I was 22 years old, and I said my biggest goal (in skiing) was to not kill myself, not hurt myself," Miller said. "It’s such a brutal sport. The injuries are so extreme."

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This is the brutal truth about skiing at the Olympic level. It’s dangerous. It can maim. It’s guaranteed to hurt.

Although old enough to know better, Miller keeps pushing the envelope, daring his body to hold an impossible line down the mountain without shattering.

"Risk doesn’t work in a linear fashion in skiing the way it does in most sports. In football, if you’re not diving into guys and you’re not head-butting, you’re going to stay more healthy. But, in skiing, if you back off, if you ski a little more tentative, you’re almost more likely to get hurt," Miller said.

"If you ski like you’re invincible, a lot of times you stay invincible. I am maybe dumb enough — or maybe I have a bad enough short-term memory — that I keep convincing myself that I am invincible, even if I’m ancient and have dealt with a lot of injuries."

A skier can go faster on his boards than you do rolling down the highway in your car. So every racer must make peace with the frightening reality that, sooner or later, the sport is going to break the body.

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