The winter Olympic is coming up, and you may not know it but the US has a seriously talented, and seriously wacky, skiing star. His name is Bode Miller, and he is a free-spirit, lives in a motor home, skis in an unconventional style, and is the best all round skier in the world — the current World champion — with a serious shot at 5 medals. He also crashes alot.
So he goes on 60 Minutes. You’d think that the skiing powers that be would be delighted that their marginal sport gets publicity of that type. And on 60 Minutes in a light hearted interview, Miller — who might have been in good company in the Oakland Raiders of the Kenny Stabler era — jokes about how hard it is to race the slalom when he’s hung over.
Does he think his partying has ever interfered with his performance? “Definitely. There’s been times when I’ve been in really tough shape at the top of the course,” says Miller. “Talk about a hard challenge right there. I mean, if you ever tried to ski when you’re wasted, it’s not easy. Try and ski a slalom when the gates are,” Miller says, making a hand motion. “You hit a gate less than every one a second, so it’s risky, you know. You’re putting your life at risk there. It’s like driving drunk only there’s no rules about it in ski racing.” Is he saying he’ll never do it again? “No. I’m not saying that,” Miller says.
There are only two alternatives to this. Either the guy is joking or he is so damn amazing at what he does that he can do it hungover. Now I know there was a lot of BS talked about how the Raiders partied all night and won the next day, or how Babe Ruth hit home runs hungover, but I suspect that’s overblown — this guy skis way faster than most of us can drive. But you’d think this would all be great hype? After all aren’t we a little sick of the sports star coming off the field and thanking God for being on his side (and not that of his opponent presumably).
But oh no! Apparently his sponsors are appalled, US Skiing wanted to kick him off the team and he was basically forced into making an official apology
Bode Miller, in a rare gesture of conformity, bowed to pressure from international and United States ski officials and apologized yesterday for his comments that suggested he had skied under the influence of alcohol. In his statement, Miller neither admitted nor denied that he raced while drinking.
Exactly what do US Skiing and its sponsors fear? A boycott of apres-ski parties by Focus on the Family? Just more confirmation that this country’s corporate and political establishment has totally lost its sense of humor.