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Miller happy to be back in US fold

February 16, 2010

Bode Miller has enjoyed a rollercoaster life as a professional ski racer, but insists he is glad to be back in the fold of the American team after seasons of self-imposed exile.

Miller won downhill Olympic bronze on Monday to add to his two silver medals from the 2002 Salt Lake City Games -- an achievement he admitted was a huge relief.

He made a sheepish return to the United States from the Turin Games four years ago after bombing badly when skiing outside the confines of the US team.

But Miller, now 32, has mellowed and admitted that life back as a member of the team was enjoyable and good for his skiing.

The American even added that he was not aggrieved at having lost out to downhill winner Didier Defago of Switzerland and silver medallist Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway.

"I focus on skiing and enjoying myself. It's what I've always done and I'm hoping I can keep doing it. Today was amazing and a lot of fun," he said.

"It's such a relief to get a medal. The fact those guys beat me to the hundredth of a second doesn't bother me."

Speaking of his Turin adventure, when he infamously stayed in a mobile home and financed his own team through sponsorship garnered after Salt Lake, Miller said: "In 2006, I had a lot of extra stuff around."

A two-time overall World Cup winner in 2005 and 2008, he justified his decision to leave behind the US team and, for a spell later, ski racing as something healthy.

"I felt I was able to step away from the team and from the sport and then make my decision to come back with a pretty clean slate. I didn't have a lot of baggage," he said.

"I just decided I wanted to ski race and if I was going to ski race, I would ski race in a way that would make me proud and hopefully inspire other guys in the sports.

"That's a much nicer feeling than it was before."

Miller also acknowledged that skiing in the Olympics was special -- something he had previously tried to play down, once famously saying in Turin that Olympic gold meant nothing.

"I never feel pressure. You always want to do well," he said. "But the big Games are different, they're more important.

"There's more environmental stimulation. You get more excited, there's more energy and that can be really positive if you feed off it.

"In the past, sometimes I tried to suppress that and make it just another race, but it's definitely a lot less fun."

Miller added that he did not approach ski racing as a he would a job.

"There's a difference when you take it really clinically, like a job, and you execute because you're the best in the world with the best skis and all the experience," he said.

"You compare that to when it's an Olympics, you get the chill, you get nervous, a little bit scared and then positive. You go on an emotional rollercoaster of what it's like to compete at Olympic level."

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