Thursday, December 21, 2006

what makes bode different

If you've been following the current World Cup season, you may know that Bode Miller already has three wins this year, more than he won all last season. He's still as unpredictable as ever — winning one day and missing a gate five seconds into a course the next day — but he's still one of my role models in ski racing, for one simple reason: he races for himself and no one else. He wrote a whole book outlining his philosophy on this, but I think it's summed up well in something I just read in his online diary:

"The best run I've ever laid down was in Val Gardena back in 2001 — I came in 6th, but to this day it stands out in my mind as nearly perfect. "

Is Bode Miller just delusional, or does he have a bad sense of when he's skiing well and when he's not? I don't think that's the case. There might be a hundred reasons he didn't win that day (bad wax choice, a strong gust of wind while he was on course), but if he's never felt better on his skis than he did that day, and he can recall that feeling and harness it for future performances, that's something significant. For 99% of athletes, if you ask them to recall their best day, it will be a day they had their best results. But not for Bode: he has that rarest of abilities, the power to separate his own feelings about his performance from the outcome associated with it.

No comments: