Bode Miller reunites with his old coach " out at the ranch
September 12, 2008
OLD SNOWMASS ” Out on his family ranch in Old Snowmass, John McBride is accustomed to looking after things.
There’s his 270 beef cows to feed, his three young children to dote upon and his two family dogs to chase after.
Last Friday, McBride took in a creature of a different sort for a few days.
“Bode called and said ‘I want to come in and train,'” McBride said.
That would be Bode Miller, defending World Cup overall champion, once-in-a-generation talent, polarizing sports icon and the center of McBride’s professional universe before the Aspen native walked away from alpine skiing’s World Cup last March to spend more time with his family.
Where there’s been Miller and his success on skis, there’s nearly always been McBride in the background. At least until this year.
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McBride spent more than a decade coaching the most successful U.S. skier in history, first as an assistant with the U.S. Ski Team and then last winter as Miller’s personal head coach in a barnstorming, breakaway outfit financed by Miller that traveled the World Cup circuit in two custom-made buses. The experiment was a success, considering Miller won his second overall title ” skiing’s top prize ” in four years.
Last March, however, after being talked out of retirement twice before following the two previous World Cup seasons, McBride said enough was enough.
He told Miller he would always be his coach, so to speak, he just couldn’t do it as a full-time job anymore. His children and his wife needed him more.
Of course, McBride said, there was always the offer for Miller to come to his ranch for some dryland training, just as they’d done in previous falls leading up to the World Cup season.
When Miller arrived last Friday, the teacher and student set back to work.
“In four days, we did a really heavy lift, a bunch of plyometrics and agility stuff, some mountain running in the Elk Mountain Range,” said McBride.
McBride also gave Miller a spin on the “grinder,” a high-intensity workout on a stationary bike designed to push Miller’s body to its limit.
And the verdict?
“I’d say he’s quite strong,” said McBride of Miller, who last season collected his 31st World Cup win, the current benchmark for a U.S. skier. “He’s very explosive, but his aerobic strength is not where it’s been.”
Another observation from the coach: Miller is a full 10 pounds heavier than he was entering last season.
“He’s about 225 [pounds],” McBride said. “He’s not fat. He’s pretty lean. If he can carry that weight, it will be a good thing in speed. If he can carry it and maintain his explosiveness, it will probably be to his benefit. He’s probably got to get his conditioning to the point to where he can be strong at the end of runs.”
As for McBride, he said he knows he will miss traveling the World Cup circuit with Miller this season when the snow starts to fly, but not as much as he will enjoy being at home on the ranch with his wife, Sunni, and his three children: Daughters Ruby and Lucy and 8-month-old son Jasper.
“Life’s been great,” McBride said. “It’s been a lot of work, because it’s myself and one other guy doing everything out on the ranch, and sometimes it’s a little overwhelming. But I’m really enjoying it.”