YANQING, China — Ask Asa Miller to differentiate a fast ball from a curved ball or sinker and you’d surely get a precise answer.
Miller, now a two-time Olympic alpine skier, spent some time behind the plate as catcher for Lincoln High School, one of the oldest high schools in the United States located in his base of Portland, Oregon.
But after playing baseball in spring and summer, he would put on his skis come winter as dad Kelly’s been hooked to the sport and does community work as a member of the Ski Patroller in Mount Hood for 27 years.
It turned out that skis were his true love.
“I focused entirely on skiing as it became more serious, it’s what I love and my passion,” said Asa, who played baseball for Lincoln from 2015 to 2016.
The lure of the snow on the hills of Portland were so enticing that Kelly would take an 18-month old Asa to frolic outside of their home in the cold of winter.
Slowly and surely, Asa Miller grew as a competitive skier. His dad entered him in ski clubs such as the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, and is currently a member of the Snowbird Sports Education Foundation.
He was on the Mount Meadows race team and before he knew it, he had the Philippine flag on his chest as a 16-year-old at the 2017 World Junior Alpine Skiing Championships in Are, Sweden.
He finished 39th in slalom and that opened the world of competitive skiing to the now 21-year-old Filipino-American.
Kelly Miller said Asa spent two years skiing in high school before deciding to go competitive on the international stage.
“Clubs are more competitive than high school,” Kelly said. “When he turned 16, we started talking of joining the Philippine team in 2016.”
That decision five years ago bore fruit, with Asa now seeing action in his second consecutive Winter Games in Beijing where he’s vying in two events this time by adding the slalom to the giant slalom where he competed in Pyeongchang four years ago.
“When he turned 16, we registered him for the Philippines. You only have to choose only one country to represent,” said Kelly, who admitted he took to skiing for fun.
“But I guided them, Asa and his younger sister Kaia,” the elder Miller said.
“We started just playing around the snow,” Kelly said of his daughter and son, whose campaign since wearing the country’s colors is fully supported by the Philippine Olympic Committee and Philippine Sports Commission.
“Over the years, he’s been enjoying the competition and then it got higher and higher as he progressed more — and that’s his choice.”
Asa Miller’s Filipina mother Polly Bisquera, originally from Sta. Cruz, Manila, also played competitive volleyball.
Miller, who speaks French fluently, momentarily took a leave as an Economics sophomore at Westminster College in Salt Lake City to focus on his Olympic dream.
Starting at 10 a.m. on Sunday at the National Alpine Skiing Centre, Miller will be one of 150 athletes competing in the men’s giant slalom.
Then next Wednesday also at 10 a.m., he’ll be returning to Xiaohaituo Mountain for the slalom competition also expectedly beaming with pride as the Philippines’ sole representative in these Winter Olympics. (abs-cbn)