Of course, Klaus Dittrich also has to think of the athlete who’s his prominent guest here in hall B1, which this man’s colleagues prepare for their races 280 kilometers further south. “It’s a shame that you’re missing the world championship – but it’s nice to have you here,” says the chairman of the executive board of Messe München GmbH to Miller. “I’m fine,” answers Miller. “Here at ISPO MUNICH I get lots of new inspiration – the Ski World Cup doesn’t inspire me anymore.”
And ultimately, Miller (39) adds with a grin, he’s already been world champion four times already, but he’s only been to ISPO MUNICH “once in passing more than ten years ago.”
When the ski world championships begin this Monday in St. Moritz, Bode Miller will also be at the start. Albeit with a microphone in his hand and no boards under his feet. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic champion will provide commentary for his colleagues’ races at the World Ski Championship for NBC. Or rather, his ex-colleagues.
“I’m more than 90 percent sure that I won’t be returning to the skiing circus anymore,” said Miller on Sunday at ISPO MUNICH, where as a shareholder of the US clothing company Aztech Mountain, he presented the premium brand from Aspen, Colorado’s collection.
Officially, the best skier in US history still hasn’t ended his career, but he makes it clear in a conversation with ISPO.com that, after over 400 World Cup races, he will no longer be adding to his 33 World Cup wins.
“I’m going to be 40 years old soon. I’ve experienced everything in skiing. I don’t believe it makes very much sense for me to go back one more time. Now, business is my new challenge. Not to mention that skiing don’t bring me anything commercially anymore, either.”
He soon delivers the explanation for this: He wanted to bring Aztech Mountain to the forefront, make it famous, take it to the top. The US skiing team, from which he still hasn’t officially said his farewells, however has been outfitted by Spyder for years.
“What would it mean for Aztech Mountain if I were to then wear another brand in the race?” Win on Sunday, sell on Monday, that doesn’t work when you have to change your clothes overnight.
Sure, Bode Miller, with no World Cup starts for two years now, has always flirted with his return but then never gone through with it – also because he still has yet to find a new task that fills in the gaps.
But now there are two that do just that: One, he’s become a father, and says, “Family is becoming more important now. I don’t need the risk to my health anymore.” But there’s also his new job as “Chief Innovation Officer” at Aztech Mountain demanding his time.
“I’ll give it my all to bring the company to the forefront,” he said Sunday, when he showed Klaus Dittrich the new collection. “I really like what they’re doing, which is high quality,” says the trade fair boss, “I incidentally bought something from Aztech last year during a skiing trip in Austria.” For Miller, that’s just the right cue: “Then I’ll have to focus everything on making sure that’s not an accident anymore.”
Contacts like this with the chairman of the executive board of Messe München are what now drive Miller forward. “I want to push my company as hard as I did myself in the Skiing World Cup,” he explains in a conversation with ISPO.com. “With one difference: As a skier, I was dependent on the material and wasn’t able to influence much. As a manufacturer, I can determine the material myself. I want to find the best material, get to know the latest technologies, find the best business partners.”
And so, with great interest, Bode Miller makes use of the opportunity to take a look around the ISPO BRANDNEW VILLAGE, where the best start-ups in the sports business present their ideas and products.
Whether it’s BRANDNEW WINNER Anticonf, which makes environmentally friendly boards out of bamboo fibers; or finalists Sleddogs, which combines snow skating, inline skating, and skiing; or the Integrated Avalanche System, a revolutionary safety backpack that combines an avalanche airbag with a unique breathing system – and above all the ISPO BRANDNEW category Hardware Winter, which Exhibition Group Director Markus Hefter introduced him to, Bode Miller has done it all. “Great stuff,” shouted the Olympic champion to the newcomers, “Make it perfect!”
In the end, becoming number one continues to be his drive, Miller said in a conversation with ISPO.com. “Just ask my employees: I can’t content myself with mediocrity.” That, too, is a reason why he’ll no longer return to the skiing circus.