Bode Miller deserves a medal right now, even before he goes to Turin to try and win one on the slopes. Every time he opens his mouth, Italy should give him a little something to pin on his ski bib.
Better yet, offer Miller a cut of ticket sales for the Winter Olympics. Judging from the anemic response so far, the Italians could use his help in that area.
Miller, you may recall from the last time Americans paid attention to ski racing, which was four years ago in Salt Lake City, is the star of the U.S. ski team.
He’s also arguably the best skier in the world, a position that makes people pay attention when he says some of the dumbest things in the world.
That’s not such a bad thing around this time of year, when NBC hasn’t yet begun bombarding the population with Olympic promos in earnest and the games are in bad need of a good buzz.
Watch Miller on “60 Minutes” Sunday night, though, and you have to wonder if he’s sometimes a few gates short of a full course.
An argument could be made that you have to be a bit crazy anyway to race down an icy mountain as fast as you can on two flimsy skis. But Miller says he’s done it while drunk — and will likely do it again.
“Talk about a hard challenge right there. ... If you ever tried to ski when you’re wasted, it’s not easy,” Miller said in the segment. “Try and ski a slalom when ... you hit a gate less than every one second, so it’s risky. You’re putting your life at risk. ... It’s like driving drunk, only there are no rules about it in ski racing.”
Indeed, SWI — skiing while intoxicated — is a time-honored tradition on mountains around the world. That’s the main reason they make bota bags, those wonderful inventions that can be filled with your booze du jour to keep the cold out.
You can get away with it on the bunny slopes. But, at breakneck speeds, it’s an invitation to, well, break a neck.
Miller’s agent tried his best to do some damage control Saturday, claiming the quote was taken out of context in a profile on an “intelligent, eloquent and iconic athlete.”
Miller himself decided this might be the one time he should remain quiet, refusing to talk to reporters after a disappointing 14th-place finish in the giant slalom in Switzerland.
But International Ski Federation president Gian Franco Kasper didn’t mince words about the skier, who doesn’t have many friends within the skiing establishment.
“I think everyone knows it’s stupidity. I feel sorry for him because he’s killing his reputation,” Kasper told The Associated Press. “But there is no minimal IQ limit within alpine skiing.”
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