Bode Miller sues Head Skis with plans to return to professional ski racing, but a termination agreement signed with Head USA prevents him from racing competitively on another company’s equipment for two years.
Miller invested in Bomber Ski as a partial owner in 2015 and wants to compete in this season’s World Cup, which begins in October.
After his 2015 leg injury during the super-G at Beaver Creek, Colorado, Miller signed a contract termination agreement with Head in May of that year. Miller had been skiing with Head since 2006.
A court document stated Miller would not compete in a World Cup or World Championship ski race for two years from the date of signing.
Now, 16 months later, Miller is asking a Los Angeles court to overturn that portion of the agreement.
Miller’s legal team says the contract prevents the athlete from doing his job by restricting what equipment he can use, which would be in violation of a section of the California business and professional code that prohibits agreements that would prevent anyone from “engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind.”
In court papers, Miller said that this competition would be his “last real opportunity to competitively compete in the World Cup racing circuit and attract lucrative endorsements needed to provide for his family.”
Miller turns 39 next month and his return to skiing would make him one of the oldest racers on the circuit.
Heads official press release signed by Johan Eliasch, chairman and CEO of HEAD reads:
HEAD has been sued by Bode Miller, whereby Bode Miller is contesting his obligations pursuant to the termination of his endorsement agreement with HEAD in 2015. Bode Miller told HEAD he would finally retire from ski racing but asked a personal favour that his contract would be terminated a year early such that he could enter into an endorsement contract with another ski company for his personal gain. HEAD agreed with his manager to release him from his contract based on his unequivocal intention to stop ski racing, and on the condition that in the event that he changed his mind he agreed not to compete in World Cup or World Championship racing until the end of the 2016/17 season on any other equipment than HEAD skis, boots and bindings. Bode Miller agreed to this as is stipulated in the termination agreement. Notwithstanding the terms of the termination agreement, Bode Miller recently announced that he would breach this agreement. HEAD will be seeking to have Bode honour his contractual commitments and is fully behind him skiing competitively this season, on Head skis, as he is obligated to do.
Johan Eliasch, chairman and CEO of HEAD stated: ‘I am truly very disappointed to see that Bode has no intention to honour his word and that he intends to breach our agreement to that effect. We will take every action to enforce our rights against Bode. That said, HEAD would welcome Bode’s return to World Cup racing, but it has to be on HEAD equipment.’
Rainer Salzgeber, director of the HEAD Ski Race Team added: “Of course I would like to see Bode racing again, but it has to be on HEAD equipment.”