Miller will travel in style in Europe

Posted: Sunday, December 07, 2003

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. John Madden's got nothing on Bode Miller.

When the World Cup skiing circuit moves to Europe next week, Miller will go from race to race in a 30-foot motor home replete with a king-sized bed and a chauffeur-chef.

It's the only such arrangement on the tour, and it will enable Miller to travel in style instead of getting behind the wheel of a car or riding in a cramped van.

And he no longer has to lug half a dozen duffel bags of equipment to and from his hotel room. Miller will be allowed to park his motor home in the same secured area where TV production trucks are near the base of each race course.

What made this possible? Miller's new three-year contract with Italian pasta maker Barilla.

''It's a pretty big RV,'' Miller said. ''There's a king-sized bed in back, so I'll have my own comforter, my own pillows. There's a nice big kitchen area. One of my best friends is a chef, and he'll end up driving the RV all winter and cooking for me.''

While ''Monday Night Football'' broadcaster Madden opts for his custom-equipped bus to travel to games because he doesn't like to fly, Miller is mainly concerned about convenience.

The ''Bodemobile'' should give Miller control over two important aspects of his career.

''Everyone knows how important nutrition and rest are for success in any area,'' he said. ''For me, it's exaggerated ... because of all the travel I do in the season.''

Miller, of Franconia, N.H., has a reputation for risk-taking on the course, but he has been taking an increasingly thoughtful approach to his skiing. Independent and opinionated, he also is highly intelligent.

''One of the things I've tried to do in the last year or two is take more of the variables out of ski racing,'' he said. ''You go from hotel to hotel, you eat different food every night, you're in different beds all the time. You have to carry your bags in and out of your van. There's just a ton of things that go on besides the racing stuff.

''I've tried to figure out ways to eliminate as many of the negative variables as I can and focus on the things I really like.''

Miller, the runner-up in last season's World Cup overall standings, believes the easier lifestyle might be enough to put him over the top.

''I have to be able to perform at a really high level if I want to win the overall,'' he said.

Miller, who won two gold medals and one silver medal at the world championships and who has won seven World Cup races, is celebrated like a rock star at Europe's ski resorts.

He's not really comfortable with the attention that comes with stardom, which makes one wonder why he would set himself up in a visible vehicle.

''I'm sure there are going to be hitches,'' he said. ''Europe is all abuzz about this. Everyone is all frantic about people trying to tip my RV over and getting crazy on it.''

But he's convinced that the potential problems are outweighed by the advantages.

Miller's rivals tend to agree.

Marco Buechel of Liechtenstein said he and other racers ''have been talking about Bode's RV quite often. What he needs is good access to finish areas. If he can park his RV right at the finish area of a World Cup race, it's a brilliant idea.''

Europeans are amazed, Buechel said, ''because nobody has ever done this before.''

Another advantage: Miller can go to his motor home and relax between runs of a slalom or giant slalom. The alternative, Buechel said, is to sit for two hours in a restaurant ''where people smoke and it's hot, and you can't take off your clothes or lie down.''

Buechel considered using an RV but decided it was too expensive.

And Hans Knauss of Austria had another reason for rejecting an RV.

''I don't like campers,'' Knauss said. ''I prefer good hotels.''

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