By Philip O’Connor
INNSBRUCK, Austria (Reuters) – Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion Bode Miller has told Reuters that Mikaela Shiffrin is the best alpine ski racer he has ever seen and that she could win a slew of medals for the U.S. at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Shiffrin, who won gold in the slalom at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, is currently top of the overall World Cup standings after racking up a series of good results so far this season.
Miller, the most decorated U.S. Olympic skier with six medals, believed that the 22-year-old could even equal his record tally next month at the Games in South Korea.
“I think she’s maybe the best ski racer I’ve ever seen, male or female. She’s so balanced, dynamic, intense and focused, so for me, I think she’s got a chance in any event she skis in,” the 40-year-old said.
“I would say it’s likely she wins two (Olympic) golds, I would say an outside shot at five medals, and I think probably, at her best, maybe three or four of them are golds,” he added.
Miller, who retired last November after 20 years in ski racing, is looking forward to embracing technology as part of his role at Eurosport covering the Games to help viewers gain a better understanding of Alpine skiing.
“I’m going to try to bring knowledge to people, so that I can educate them and make watching the sport more fun and more exciting,” Miller said.
Part of his brief is to use the Eurosport Cube, a studio incorporating augmented reality and enhanced data, to explain the technical details to look out for in the various disciplines.
“If it was just verbal, if I was on the radio I couldn’t explain anything, but then television brings it to the next level, where people can see what I’m talking about,” he added.
Miller also said that media work was not something he had planned for in his retirement.
“This is more of an experiment. I’ve made a really strong effort of the last six years or seven years to stay in the sport because I love it, and because I think it needs people who love it to make it exciting and make it fun for people to watch.
“If I can help and it works and it’s good, and I can make the athletes be inspired and ski harder and take more risks, and make it better for the people at home to watch, then maybe I’ll stay in it,” he said.
The Winter Games open in Pyeongchang on Feb. 9.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Christian Radnedge)