COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. (AP) — Bode Miller banged his way through the giant slalom course as only he can, scraping his knuckle in a fall and later bloodying his elbow after a collision with a gate.
As anyone paying attention to skiing over the past dozen or so years knows by now, the five-time Olympic medalist simply does not hold back — even in a training run while trying to get his surgically repaired left knee, the one that sidelined him last season, healthy in time for the Sochi Games. It still aches, but not as bad as, say, a decade ago.
These days, the progress of that balky knee isn't the only thing weighing on his mind.
Miller is involved in a very public custody case over his son — the 9-month-old child's legal name is Samuel Bode after his father, but Miller calls him Nathaniel. The mother, Sara McKenna, with whom Miller had a brief relationship, currently has custody of the child in New York.
Another court hearing is set for Monday, after Miller's races at Beaver Creek this weekend.
"I'd love him to be here," Miller said in a recent interview with The Associated Press in Colorado. "He's got a great attitude, a great spirit. He loves to do stuff, loves being around me. It's tough to think about him sitting in an apartment in New York."
Miller worries that he's been perceived by some as the bad guy in a back-and-forth that has received plenty of media attention and become a rallying point for women's rights advocates.
"There's none of this 'trying to take a kid away from his mom.' We tried to file for joint custody," said Miller, who has a 5-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
"It's what every parent would do," he added. "We're not trying to do anything crazy. We just have to go through the process."
McKenna, a former Marine and firefighter, moved last winter from Miller's home state of California to New York to go to Columbia University. The California court awarded temporary custody of the boy late in the summer to Miller; the New York court made him give the child to McKenna last week. Naved Amed, an attorney representing McKenna, declined to comment on the case to the AP on Wednesday.