Former alpine ski racer and Olympic gold medallist, Bode Miller was once one of America’s most treasured sportsmen and is still an influential voice in the industry, often working as a skiing analyst. Miller’s achievements throughout his sporting career come down to his mindset and talents as an athlete, but his unusual upbringing also helped him become the standout individual that he is today.
Bode Miller did not go to a conventional college, but, after displaying his burgeoning expertise on the slopes, his family did send him to the Carrabassett Valley Academy in Maine. The academy is said to “transform talented downhill athletes into polished racers”.
Brought up in a small cabin in the heart of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, Miller’s parents are often described as “self-styled hippies” whose house didn’t have essentials like electricity and plumbing. Homeschooled for a portion of his youth, Miller literally spent his upbringing on the slopes, and at just age 11, he began to ski competitively.
A Rural Upbringing and Academy Experience
It’s clear that Miller’s upbringing and close proximity to the natural world around him helped acclimate him to the rigors of life as a professional skier. One biography all but likens Miller’s youth to that of a character from ‘Captain Fantastic’, saying: “Bode was raised to explore the world around him, ask a lot of questions, and distrust authority.
“At the age of two, he began sliding down the half-mile path from his house to the driveway on a homemade snowboard. At four, he was on skis almost every day there was snow on the ground.”
Interestingly, his parents actually split up when Miller was just six-years-old, but his mother didn’t move far away. During his time attending a public school, another account reads: “Bode spent a lot of time wandering the woods. When he started going to school, he walked through the forest in the pre-sunrise hours to catch the bus.
“His time alone helped him see the many connections in the world around him and influenced the way he approached people, problems and just about everything else he encountered in life, including schoolwork and sports.”
When it comes to Miller’s college experience at the Carrabassett Valley Academy, the young man’s outlook on life had already been perfectly constructed during his life in the wilderness.
One report reads: “Bode’s academic experience as a senior was also something of a eureka moment. When he received a 68 on a paper on author Toni Morrison, he refused to make the revisions that would have guaranteed a diploma. Feeling he had done the work the best he could, he stuck to his guns and refused to do a rewrite.
“At the prom, he was told he could not wear sandals and cursed out the teacher who scolded him. Bode walked out of CVA with a Certificate of Attendance instead of a diploma, but that was cool as far as he was concerned.”
After proving his credentials at the top level, Miller’s progress as a professional was awarded by making the U.S. ski team for the first time in 1998. In that year, he competed in the Japan Winter Olympics and, despite not taking home a medal, he had announced himself on the world stage.
In the Winter Olympics in the U.S. in 2002, Miller picked up two silver medals and established himself as not only a hugely talented pro but also one of the best on the national team.
After maturing as an athlete, Miller went on to celebrate his first Olympic gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
With a total of six Olympic medals under his belt – more than any other male American skier – Miller officially retired from the professional game in 2017.
A Tragic Year
Following the tragic death of his daughter in 2018, Miller and his wife, Morgan, decided to uproot the California-based family and move to rural Montana, a place that reflected Miller’s own upbringing. Reflecting on their decision, Miller said: “When you get a true sense of the possible shortness of life — nobody knows what’s around the corner — it’s not something you want to put off… It changed a bit our intensity of how we deal with our time and our family and our priorities.”
Regarding the change of locations, Miller also said: “After losing Emmie, we definitely reflected on how we were raising our kids… We felt like there was enough missing from our experience and their upbringing in Southern California that we needed to look at other options.”