PARK CITY, Utah - Two weeks shy of his 36th birthday, "pretty shriveled up" and likely nearing the end of his competitive career, Bode Miller cant help but think of legacies. Not the five Olympic medals, the four world titles and whether he is, as most people think, the best male skier the United States has ever had. Thats for other people to decide. "I think theyre more titles for everyone else," Miller said on Monday at the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit. "Youre renting the title until somebody else takes it away. If youre too attached to it, youre going to be bummed out when your rental agreement runs out." No, what matters to him is the impact hes had on skiing. "Its not so much about my legacy as it is about ski racing in general. Ski racing deserves what you can give to it," he said. "Its been the love of my life up until now." Even if its been, to the outside world, something of a tortured relationship. Miller was just 20 when he made his first Olympic team in 1998, too inexperienced even to know what he didnt know. He remembers feeling confident when he stepped into the starting gate, only to get through 15 gates before sailing off the course. By the time he reached the bottom — cartwheeling across the finish line — the Japanese fans greeted him with "raucous applause." "In 98, I was basically throwing the dice," he said. By the time the Turin Olympics rolled around, Miller was skiings biggest star. Like La Bomba and the Herminator before him, his success on the slopes — he won four world titles from 2003 to 2005, and claimed his first overall World Cup title in 2005 — was surpassed only by his larger-than-life personality off them. Raised in rural New Hampshire, he is brash, unconventional and free-spirited. (While most other athletes wore sneakers or boots Monday, Miller sported aqua blue flip-flops.) But the very traits that make him so appealing also were his undoing. Disdainful of the goal-oriented nature of Olympic sports — to say nothing of the celebrity culture that goes with them — Miller found trouble at every turn in Turin. He made waves by refusing to live in the athletes village. He said he had mixed feelings about the U.S. Ski Teams "Best in the World" motto, saying the organization needed to put as much into it as the skiers did. And after all those expectations, he didnt medal, failing even to finish in three of his events. Later, he brushed off criticism of his failure, saying hed managed to "party and socialize at an Olympic level." "Dealing with those kind of tough situations, its obviously part of growing and being a grown-up," Miller said. "When youre under the magnifying glass like that, theres no way to really judge yourself too harshly in hindsight. Obviously, I could have said things differently, I could have done things differently. A lot of other people could have done things differently, too. "I had chances to win, I was prepared. I dont think I did anything dramatically as evil as it was portrayed. But I think thats part of being under the microscope that way, and Im fully capable of dealing with it. It didnt really ruffle me as bad as I think a lot of people would have expected. I just dont seem to get bothered by that stuff that much." Four years later, skiing had a new star in Lindsey Vonn. But the spotlight found Miller once again, this time for all the right reasons. He won a medal of every colour at the Vancouver Olympics, including a gold in the super combined. That gave him a total of five Olympic medals, more than any other U.S. skier. Miller won his 33rd World Cup title, in the downhill at Beaver Creek, in December 2011. But he had microfracture surgery on his left knee in February 2012 and wound up missing the entire 2012-13 season. The break re-energized him, giving him a chance to spend time with his wife and kids. "Being away from the sport was really healthy for me," Miller said. "Ive been in it so long with so little time away that I was definitely taxed ... to a point that I was getting frustrated at times. The fact is, if youre going to do it, the process deserves better than that. Now I think Im in a place where I can participate fully, and not put as much strain on myself." Miller accompanied the rest of the U.S. team to Portillo, Chile, and said his knee feels "perfect" as he readies for his return to competition this month. Asked about his expectations for Sochi, Miller said he intends to "kick (butt)" in what is almost certainly his last Olympics. "Everyone looks for these big epiphanies," he said. "Ive spent lot of time and energy being a ski racer. Ive earned the right to compete at a high level and Ive spent a lot of pain and a lot of energy trying to develop these skills. The Olympics, to me, is just a great opportunity to enjoy that. "Its a perishable process, being a ski racer. 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