BORMIO, Italy – Bode Miller said he is considering quitting the U.S. Ski Team after the 2006 Winter Olympics to start his own squad or establish a rival professional circuit, according to a weekly diary he publishes in several newspapers around the world.

In the column, Miller said the pay conditions offered to alpine skiers are poor and blames the ski team.

“A lot of people are wondering if I’m going to retire after the 2006 Olympics, which is a possibility,” Miller wrote in Wednesday’s edition of The Denver Post. “One possibility is to take a year off after the Olympics. Another alternative I’ve thought a little about is phasing myself out of the U.S. Ski Team and starting my own team.”

The former student at Carrabassett Valley Academy in Maine said he and teammate Erik Schlopy have talked about starting a new pro tour.

“Or we could put together a team that would compete on the World Cup,” Miller wrote. “We could get Barilla or one of my other sponsors to cover us. Each of the guys would have a salary, so guys who were not as good would get consistent pay.

Miller doesn’t think the ski team “treats the sport the way it deserves to be treated for the amount of money that’s in it. Lots of guys on the team don’t make a sufficient income to live on. They don’t get good medical coverage.

“They’re expected to abide by all kinds of rules and not have fun, because of the way the schedule is drawn. With my team, everyone would have a chance to have some down time and party.”

Miller’s diary also runs in Italy’s TuttoSport, Austria’s Kurier and the Swiss dailies Blick and Tribune de Geneve.

Miller has attracted plenty of attention off the slopes. A nonconformist who travels around the European ski circuit in a caravan, Miller is known for liking a good time and has spent much of the season lamenting how his media duties encroach on his personal time.

The 27-year-old from Franconia, N.H., is currently the biggest name on the ski circuit, especially after his stunning gold medal victories in the downhill and super-G at the Alpine World Championships.

Miller also stole the spotlight last week in the combined race even though he failed to finish it. Losing a ski just 15 seconds into the morning’s downhill leg, Miller turned catastrophe into comedy by skiing the rest of the way on one ski.

He’s won six World Cup races this season, starting with his first career victories in the super-G and downhill in December to join Pirmin Zurbriggen, Gunther Mader, Kjetil-Andre Aamodt and Marc Girardelli as the only men to win all four disciplines in their career. Miller accomplished the feat in just 16 days, the shortest span ever.



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