First crimes

Bode Miller, expensive sports, the statute of limitations for insurance fraud, and 7 other things worth your time.

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Bode!

OK, let’s wrap up our adventures with Bode Miller. I think the interview this week was great. I also learned a lot from those of you who participated.

Today, I have an article over on Inc.com based on that experience (Inc.com, $), and I’m also doing something different here.

On Inc., I wrote about the mental trick that Miller described using during big races like the Super Combined at the 2010 Olympics, in which he won his gold medal.

In short, he explained how he focused his mind on intense memories and stories that had absolutely nothing to do with the race—things like a memory of being in the ocean with his dad, or an imaginary story about saving his sister’s life as a child.

This allowed him to harness the emotion and improve his performance. It’s a trick he said he used hundreds of times in races. I hope you’ll check it out.

(Credit goes to a reader who was in the interview named Glenn Rose, who suggested the question that got Miller talking about all this.)

Separately, I wanted to share something else that we learned. A lot has been written about the very unusual, rural childhood Miller had—including how he’d walk a mile or so from the remote house his family lived in, through the woods, and then hitch a ride to a ski mountain, at a very young age.

I wondered how a kid growing up without money, as he did, even had enough access in the first place to a very expensive sport like skiing to become elite?

Equipment, lift tickets—it all adds up very fast, especially for a family that was literally living in a cabin without electricity or plumbing during Miller’s early childhood.

So I asked him, point blank.

First, he pointed out that he was homeschooled, which freed up time and money for the things he really wanted to do, like skiing and other sports.

Second, second-hand equipment: $40 used skis at swap meets every year.

“And then” — actually, I loved this part, and it’s where things start to get quite resourceful, so I’ll quote it at length:

“And then, I figured out with K2 [a U.S. ski brand, for those who aren’t into this at all], you could buy a pair of skis at a ski swap. You could hit a huge jump, and slam your tips down and delaminate the tip, or crack the tips, and send it back. They'd send you a new pair.

So that was that was my first crime, I guess, insurance fraud or whatever that actually qualifies as. But I did that a bunch of times, and they started to realize that it was me sending back the skis all the time. And that's when that ended, but I got several pairs of replacements—good skis for racing.”

I think the statute of limitations on that kind of fraud is only five years, so Miller should be OK.

Also, given the long relationship he later had with K2, and the big boost he gave them in 1996 by winning a junior national championship that year on stock, K2 shaped skis, I’m pretty sure they’d forgive him anyway. (The Financial Times has a good article from years back about what Miller’s win did for K2, before they were even his sponsor.)

Also, Miller said, he used to compete every year in a local ski race for elementary school students. First prize was a full season ski lift ticket, which he won four years in a row.

“I had no business winning that race,” he said, “Really, three of the four years I wasn't anywhere near the best person. But my motivation was so high and my intensity was so high, because I needed that season pass.”

There were other little serendipitous factors, too, including that his mother’s best friend as a child grew up and married the headmaster of a boarding school in Maine, where he got a partial scholarship.

That led to a lot more skiing opportunities in Maine—which pretty much brings us up to the K2s in 1996.

Anyway: It was a good interview. I also really enjoyed doing it with an audience, and I want to work on getting more opportunities like this. Keep the suggestions coming, please!


7 other things worth your time

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