Bode Miller's pledge to "Go Fast" and "Have Fun" might have made him the toast of Europe and the history-making darling of the skiing world, but it's also raised serious concerns with important fans back home: his family members.
In a series of interviews conducted with ESPN The Magazine in December in Miller's hometown of Franconia, N.H., some of the U.S. Olympian's kin expressed worry over his partying and, specifically, his drinking.
"It bothers me," said Bode's father, Woody Miller. "To me, it's bad logic to think he can act that way before a race. I thought he'd matured."
The elder Miller went on to speculate about why the oldest of his two sons continues to go out, even during the week of events.
"It's a challenge to him," Woody said, "to perform at the bars and then perform on the slopes."
In a "60 Minutes" interview to be aired Sunday, the 28-year-old World Cup champion admitted to skiing "wasted," and did not deny that he might do it again in the future.
Miller's agent, Lowell Taub, reached by phone Friday, said he is "outraged" by the 60 Minutes interview snippet.
"We're very disappointed that what's regarded as country's finest news program felt the only way to get viewers to tune in was to isolate one salacious highlight," Taub told ESPN. He then called the 60 Minutes tease "a Jerry Springer press release," and "a full-on cheap shot."
Catherine Olian, who produced the segment for "60 Minutes" and
said she stands by it, told The Associated Press that Miller's
comments were made in a "lighthearted moment."
"It is a very small part of a piece about a very accomplished
skier," Olian said, adding that Miller was "very cooperative."
Taub said he believes the incident in question came the day after Miller clinched the World Cup in 2005, when he competed after a celebratory night on the town. Taub expressed doubts over whether Bode was inebriated when he placed sixth in a slalom event the day after clinching the title.
Said Taub: "You don't come in sixth [while] drunk."
The deepest concerns came from Bode's uncle, Mike Kenney, who helped develop Bode's training regimen. Kenney, who is a coach and development scout for the U.S. Ski team, worries that Bode's choices will shorten, and perhaps ruin, his career.
"It's a huge disappointment to see him doing this," Kenney said in December. "The cumulative effects of [partying] to such a degree will have negative effects on his longevity. Ages 28 to 32 are the peak of his sport, but he's more on his way out."
Bode's sister, Kyla, believes her brother needs someone to help him stay focused. She said some of Bode's friends are "not there to ground him."
"He doesn't seem to be having fun anymore," Kyla said. "He lives in a delusional space."
Taub denied that his client has a drinking problem, and also denies having any concerns about Miller's lifestyle.
"His lifestyle has not changed in the last five years," Taub said. "He's no different than any other 20-something enjoying his life. Mickey Mantle is Mickey Mantle, but you don't get to be the best alpine skier in the world and have a drinking problem. It's asinine."
International Ski Federation President Gian Franco Kasper said
he felt sorry for Miller but that the American's statement did not
endanger the sport's reputation.
"It's his own mistake," Kasper told the AP by telephone. "It's
completely stupid that he said it and not exactly what he should
tell young people. We aren't really concerned [for the sport]. I
think everyone knows it's stupidity. I feel sorry for him because
he's killing his reputation.
"But there is no minimal IQ limit within alpine skiing."
Eric Adelson is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His full story on Bode Miller will appear in the magazine later this month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.