Former Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street said she believes Bode Miller is trying to test the limits of U.S. ski officials and is jeopardizing his public image with his controversial comments about skiing drunk, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
"He’s trying to see how far he has to go before he gets the bad-boy slash,” she told the Times. “I think he also knows well enough how to get himself out of it, now that he’s here.”
But Street said that Miller has a chance to turn it around.
"It’s not irreversible, not in my opinion, not with me,” Street, who herself was a rebel before winning the downhill gold in the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan in 1988.
"He’s growing up,” Street added about Miller, 28. “I mean, guys grow up right at his age. He’s kind of starting to go, ‘Am I an old dude or can I still get drunk and go skiing?'"
Miller, the overall World Cup champion, said during a "60 Minutes” profile on CBS that it’s not easy “to ski when you’re wasted.”
Miller, who last season became the first U.S. skier to win the overall World Cup title in 22 years, told the CBS program in a broadcast aired Sunday that “there’s been times when I’ve been in really tough shape at the top of the course.”
“Talk about a hard challenge right there,” Miller said. “It’s like driving drunk only there’s no rules about it in ski racing.”
Street, who won the silver medal in the downhill at the 1994 Lillehammer Games and gold in super-giant slalom four years later at Nagano, was able to transform her image from bad girl to media superstar but said Miller could be hurting his ability to do the same.
"What he’s doing right now is he’s jeopardizing his ability to do that,” Street told the Times. “That’s the biggest mistake I see him making. The rest of it, the temper tantrums, everybody’s got to grow. . . . I hope the best for him. I hope he can get a handle on it.
Street also told the Times that she doesn't think Miller's comments should give the world a negative image of American athletes as Turin approaches.
"It does concern me to some degree,” she told the Times. “But I hope everybody’s able to remember, however, that it’s an individual thing and if he does do something he regrets, that it’s on him, it’s not a direct reflection on our country.
There are similarities in how Street and Miller grew up, both in remote areas by counter-culture parents. Street was raised in rural Idaho, and Miller in a house without indoor plumbing in Franconia, N.H.
Olympic alpine hopefuls
Click to see images of skiers who hope to strike gold in Turin.