The most decorated skier in U.S. Olympic history will join NBC as an analyst for the network’s alpine skiing coverage when competition at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, begins February 8. Miller, 40, is the only American to compete in alpine skiing at five Olympics, where he received six medals.
What will you be doing as an analyst?
Analysts, versus hosts or commentators, talk about what they see. And I’m a pretty natural speaker.
What is it like to be going to the Olympics as an observer after 20 years of competing?
I’ve never gotten to really enjoy the Olympics simply as a spectator, and be amazed at the accomplishments and learn about the athletes without that singular focus of my own event. I’m looking forward to it.
Do young skiers ask for your advice?
Sometimes, but it’s really always conversational. I’m not held in any special reverence. I’m pretty approachable. Ski racing is, fundamentally, a very simple sport. It’s about going from point A to point B quickly. I think it’s easy to get distracted and start thinking that you have to look a certain way or you have to do a certain thing. Sometimes it helps to have somebody who has a bunch of experience just tell you, “Look, don’t worry about any of that stuff. Just make sure that your mind is focused on going fast.” Going fast is really the essence of what ski racing is.
Do you think the U.S. ski team will medal in the Olympics?
We’re not as deep as we have been at different times, but the U.S. is known for really pulling out the stops and putting out their best results in the big competitions, and I think this will be no exception. There are always young guys who are hungry and who, via the American mentality and maverick style, are elevating their game for the Olympics.
Where do you keep your Olympic medals?
I have one of them in my office. My wife framed my Sochi bronze medal, and it’s the only one that’s framed. The other ones, my mom has. I put a couple in museums in New Hampshire when they asked me to display them, so they’re all over the place.
You’ll likely be able to comment on things that other people wouldn’t even notice.
I think that comes from having spent my life doing the sport that I’m commentating on, and this is a tough one to commentate because things happen so quickly, and there’s such a small difference. We’re talking a few tenths of a second over a couple of minutes of racing, so the differences are small, and you have to know what you’re looking for and what you’re trying to describe to the viewer, who maybe isn’t an expert. I think that’s something that throughout my career I became very aware of, so it’s all pretty easy.
Any favorite competitors that you’re going to keep your eye on?
Of course. I know a lot of the people, a lot of the old guard, and there’s always really cool new athletes, but for the Americans, I like the women’s side of things a lot. Mikaela [Shiffrin] and Lindsey [Vonn] are both really exciting to watch. I think they’re two of the best the sport’s ever seen on that side. And, obviously, Ted Ligety coming back from an injury has something to prove now. He was so dominant for a while and he’s coming up against some young, hungry skiers in a sport where it’s really difficult to be competitive when you start getting into your 30s. I know he’s got the ability, but I think we’re going to be able to see him dig absolutely to his deepest to try to pull something off.
In addition to skiing, are there other events that you want to see in this year’s Olympics?
I always liked going to the hockey games. I’m a hockey fan anyway, and Olympic hockey is different because you see all these guys who don’t normally play together because they’re playing on NHL teams or European teams, and they come together and represent their country. I think it’s really cool to see how they learn and grow through the Olympic competitions because they don’t have that many games to really find a rhythm. Then, speed skating. There’s a lot of stuff, honestly, that I watch. I always watch a bunch of the snowboarding stuff because I was a snowboarder, and my little brother was a snowboarder, so yeah, there’s a ton that I’ll be watching.
You work with a company called Bomber Ski trying to perfect the perfect ski?
More or less. In all likelihood, whether you can make a perfect ski, I think, is unrealistic because of the variables. A ski is going to inherently work better in one condition than another, which is just the nature of our sport being outdoors.
At Bomber, we’re trying to enhance people’s ability to enjoy their time on the mountain. That’s the essence of it. We’re trying to raise people’s awareness and the inspiration level to actually try to do that instead of just going out there and sliding around.
I think that’s been my motto for life. I feel really lucky that I’ve been able to do all the stuff that I’ve done. I also like sharing that with other people. There’s a lot of people who spend a lot of time and money skiing, and we want to be able to enhance that experience for them.
Tell us a bit about your horse racing business.
It was a passion of mine for a long time, and Bob Baffert, who’s a good trainer and a friend, and I met a long time ago. I owned a couple of horses with him and we did pretty well. I just saw so many similarities between what I had done and horse racing, all the way from handicapping and trying to figure out which races we’re going to and which times, the way that we did in skiing, all the way through to the sport science, to the duration of the activity and the physical demands that it puts on the athlete. I just think it’s a really raw sport. There’s no judging. It’s just a race, and I really find that appealing.