Interview: Skier Bode Miller

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Big Sky
Photo courtesy of Finn Partners

Interview conducted by Sydney Wright

Big Sky
Photo courtesy of Finn Partners

At a recent event, Downtown Magazine had a chance to chat with Bode Miller, champion alpine ski racer. Miller recently announced that he is moving his family from their home in California to Big Sky, Montana, a small Rocky Mountain town. He also recently announced a partnership with Lone Mountain Land Company, the owners of the Spanish Peaks Mountain Club and Moonlight Basin

Downtown Magazine: What enticed you to get involved with Lone Mountain?

Bode Miller: Well, I guess the root of it was a desire to have my kids be able to experience a bit of the outdoors, nature, that I got to experience when I was younger. There’s a lot of really cool projects and action going on in Big Sky so it was a really perfect balance for Southern California. I love Southern California, but some things are missing from it in terms of culturally and communing with nature. 

I’ve been to ski towns all over the world for the last 25 years, and being able to really be a part of building one, kind of… (Big Sky) has been there for a long time, but it’s raw enough, it’s not developed enough, where it has its own true identity. We’re really building it from scratch with what we think is the right stuff. I can bring in elements from all different cultures and do something unique and cool. 

DM: How would you describe the Big Sky to someone who has never been there, someone who has never experienced it?

BM: You know, it’s hard to describe it. I would say it’s rugged, but obviously Yellowstone Park is there too, so it has all the amenities. (Big Sky is) a nice combination of activities for every person–parents, grandparent, kids–where you can all be together. It’s small enough that it seems like everybody’s drawn together. You kind of feel like you’re huddling against nature. 

You feel connected with the people there. You go into the stores and the people are not salespeople, they’re like a chill old uncle or something. People are nice and friendly and open, and the activities are engaging and fun. Everything’s really distilled down to the more human elements of things. Even in a small community like where I am in Southern California, it’s just not the same thing. (In Big Sky) it’s an inclusive atmosphere combined with a rugged resilience. It’s unique. 

DM: What’s been one of your favorite memories of hiking with your kids out in Montana? 

BM: While we were walking in the trees, there are these lodgepole pines. They’re skinny, and they grow incredibly fast. They’re all over the place. And there’s a whole area where it’s those lodgepole pines right up until they break, and then it’s like 10 ft of bare rock, and then a cliff of maybe like 100 ft. It’s more or less straight down. 

We were walking through and I knew that it was there, so I was holding their hands, and they walked out of lodgepole pines, which are trippy, so you’re kind of distracted. They’re like bamboo because they’re so close together. So we’re all weaving through them, and then right there is the edge. You don’t notice it till you step out of the trees. So both my boys, watching them be like, “whoa.” And I was right there with them. 

We walked right up to the edge, and they could see over. Just to see them realize that that was just nature. It’s not Disneyland manmade apparatus or the edge of a building. Nature is that way. You see their minds, their imaginations, go a million different ways. And it’s based in reality, which I loved. 

That’s how I was when I was little. It does amazing things for your mind. They can learn things that you could spend a lifetime trying to teach them, and they can do it on their own in like 10 seconds if you give them the environment to let them do it. 

DM: I can see why you’re the spokesperson. You’re making me itching to get out of the city for a weekend. 

BM: I’ve spent a lot of time in cities that were awesome. I became very aware of it a long time ago. That I had to balance it out. I’d go crazy if I didn’t. 

DM: What’s your favorite thing about New York City?

BM: The diversity of the food. I’m a foody, and there’s a lot of good spots to eat — little holes in the wall and the unknowns. There’s a speakeasy that’s in the back of what used to be an old grocery store, where you went in their cooler, and there’s a little speakeasy back there. This city is old and it’s got a lot of history in that way. I’m not such a big fan of shopping or any of that, but there’s some sneaky stuff in the city that’s interesting. 

Big Sky
Bode Miler enjoys a hike in Jack Creek at the Yellowstone Club, Montana. Photo courtesy of Finn Partners.

DM: That’s awesome. So with skiing, I’m sure it’s a big adrenaline rush, would you say when skiing or racing? 

BM: Sometimes.

DM: What fills that void? What do you do for an adrenaline rush now?

BM: Nothing. I don’t really like adrenalin that much. It generally represents danger, and I’m not a big fan of danger. I think a lot of people get mixed up with risk and danger and fear, and I was never afraid of ski racing. I just always knew it posed a danger to me. 

When you’re going fast, you can get hurt. I wasn’t afraid of that. I just knew that it was there. The adrenalin was usually based around the knowledge that I was about to put myself in a really dangerous situation. It was true danger. I would get a huge adrenalin spike and I would be able to overcome that fear and then try to do it. And unfortunately, it most often ended up badly for me because I was having to take more risk and try harder than other guys.

Inherently it was a love/hate thing. I wanted to accomplish what I wanted to, and I liked the creative aspect of it, but I didn’t like that part. So now I’m not an adrenalin-seeker. I don’t like skydiving or any of that shit. I’m happy just to do mellow. Just drive around on a golf cart.