BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - American showman Bode Miller, one of the greatest and most controversial skiers of all-time, crashed out of the alpine ski world championships on Thursday, tearing his hamstring tendon after a nasty fall in the Super-G.
Taking the most direct line to the finish as always, Miller clipped a flag with his arm as he neared the bottom of the course and flew into the air before hitting the snow hard.
A statement released by the U.S. team said Miller had been released from hospital after surgery on his torn hamstring tendon from the lower leg laceration.
“Out of a successful surgery for a severed hamstring tendon. Feeling lucky since things could have been way worse,” Miller posted on Twitter.
The injury will keep Miller out of the world championships and perhaps raises questions about the future of the 37-year-old’s career.
Competing in his first race of the season after missing the start of the World Cup campaign following back surgery, Miller had taken a deep breath as he pushed out of the start hut onto a sun-kissed Birds of Prey layout to loud cheers.
The 37-year-old launched into one of his patented charges, leading by more than half second at the second interval when disaster struck.
His left arm hit the gate as he roared into the section of the course known as the Abyss. He was twisted backwards, flying spread-eagled into the air before slamming violently onto the snow with his skies leaving his boots.
Miller tumbled down the hill before slowly coming to a stop and managed a small wave to the crowd.
Coaches rushed to Miller’s side as his wife looked on in horror, while his daughter covered her eyes before he was helped up and skied down the hill despite an open wound.
“Bode was skiing outstanding, he was going for it absolutely sending it from top to bottom and putting down a run that inspired Americans, inspired the world,” said U.S. team head coach Sasha Rearick.
Long a favorite performer on the White Circus, Miller has spent his career entertaining fans and bristling at authority often at odds with the U.S. ski team and the International ski Federation.
He broke away from the U.S. association and started his own team traveling to races in a recreational vehicle that became known as the Bode-mobile and once threatened to start his own race circuit.
But above all Miller was a ski racer, unorthodox and brilliant winning medals in all five alpine disciplines.
His resume includes six Olympic medals (one gold), five world championship medals (four gold), 33 World Cup wins and has twice been crowned overall World Cup champion.
Additional reporting by Cameron French in Toronto, editing by Patrick Johnston