SOELDEN, Austria (Reuters) - Olympic ski champion Bode Miller, who once confessed to racing with a hangover, is now thinking of a future steeped in the business of drinking.
The larger-than-life American has no immediate thoughts of quitting top level alpine racing — he is having too much fun — but said he planned a future as a professional wine-maker when he finally laid down his skis.
The 33-year-old super-combined Olympic champion bought land near his home town of Franconia, New Hampshire, with this project in mind and is still conducting studies to find out what sort of wine the land can produce.
“We still have quite a bit of time to make a decision and it will take many years for the vines to grow as well. It’s a matter of patience,” he said.
Patience was never the twice World Cup champion’s main strength, another sign that he is coming of age after a career which has made him the best-known skier of his generation thanks to a style bordering on reckless and often outspoken statements.
There were none of the latter at the weekend as he concentrated on his new off-piste focus.
“We have hot summers but autumn is relatively short, meaning the vine will not benefit from as many sunny days as you get in California or Oregon who produce great wines,” he said.
As a result, Miller wines will probably be sweeter wines similar to Austrian or Alsace whites.
Studying the land and the characteristics of a hillside — with snow of it — have been his trade for a long time and the man who has won 32 World Cup races in his career is hoping to add a couple to his record this season.
“I still have fun out there on the slopes so I didn’t see any reason to stop,” he told a media conference before the season opener in the Austrian resort of Soelden at the weekend, which was finally canceled.
The American, who had been struggling in technical events lately, was in the top 15 after the first run.
The Miller nouveau owes a lot to the birth of his two-year-old daughter Dacey and his three 2010 Olympic medals — gold, silver and bronze — also helped silence critics at February’s Vancouver Games.
Based in San Diego in the off-season, he bought a small yacht to cruise the Californian coastline with his daughter after the Olympics.
The American lives in a bus during the World Cup season in Europe and a ship when in California.
Editing by Jon Bramley