January 9, 2014 / 4:09 PM / in 4 years

Miller feeling his age ahead of Sochi

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American skiing great Bode Miller said he has adjusted his expectations as he prepares for his fifth Olympic Games next month, saying years of competition and a recent knee injury have taken their toll.

Bode Miller of the U.S. reacts after crossing the finish line during the men's World Cup Downhill skiing race in Val Gardena December 21, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi

“I definitely feel my age,” the 36-year-old told NBC News on Thursday. “I‘m trying to catch up to the young kids right now.”

After 17 years of pushing his body in skiing, he’s feeling the impact. While he feels healthier after his knee operation, he said the year off to recover meant he had to work even harder recently to make up for the time off.

“My knee - it is still a liability,” he said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” program.

Miller, who has one gold, one bronze and three silver medals from his previous four Olympics, was once seen as a maverick but now is married with two children. He also is one of the oldest U.S. athletes to compete in the games starting February 7 in Sochi, Russia.

Knee surgery in 2012 kept Miller out of competition for more than a year. During that time he also faced personal challenges, including the death of his younger brother and a custody battle over his first child from a previous relationship.

Miller said he still aims for a top finish in Sochi but that over time his expectations have changed.

“It is the performances I‘m looking for. Maybe a little bit different expectations this year,” he told NBC, speaking from Oberjoch, Germany where he is preparing for World Cup competition.

But he added, “Medals are obviously the goal anytime you go to the Olympics.”

Miller has won two World Cup titles and last month placed second at World Cup races in Colorado, showing he remains a contender at the Sochi Games.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bill Trott

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