Not surprisingly, all eyes on Miller as Olympics approach
TURIN, Italy – Bode Miller has come to the Olympics focused on skiing – and doesn’t care much about the outspoken comments he has made in the months leading up to the games.”I don’t want to sound arrogant, but none of this bothers me very much,” Miller said Tuesday. “I would be lying if I said I had massive regrets about the things I’ve said.”Miller’s comments came at a news conference in Turin that demonstrated the intense nature of the spotlight on the brash downhill skier. Miller appeared alongside five of his U.S. teammates, but when reporters were allowed to ask questions, none were asked of the other skiers – except for one directed at both Miller and Daron Rahlves.The appearance also provided Miller a forum to reiterate some of his already stated opinions:
He believes athletes are punished for speaking their minds; one of the reasons he won’t be staying at the athletes’ village at the Olympics is he doesn’t think it’s a “healthy living environment”; and he has mixed feelings regarding the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team’s motto of “Best in the World!” – which he characterized as a “clever marketing twist.” When it comes to the motto – and the team’s focus on winning medals – Miller is of two minds. He believes the skiers on the team are focused on being the best in the world, but that others in the organization, including coaches and administrators, need to make the same commitment.Just declaring as much, Miller said, isn’t enough.”We’re not the ones making policy,” he said.
Miller has often said the traditional spoils of winning, whether it’s medals or money, don’t mean much to him. With big-time sponsors such as Nike behind him, Miller still says his satisfaction comes from performing to the best of his abilities, rather than beating opponents or making millions of dollars.”You don’t see me up here with bling diamonds on and a fur coat wrapped around me,” Miller said. “My most expensive car is probably less than your most expensive car.”Miller created a stir earlier this season when he disparaged anti-doping regulations. He became the focus of controversy after a “60 Minutes” interview in which he said “if you ever tried to ski when you’re wasted, it’s not easy.”And last month, he suggested in an interview with Rolling Stone that Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong took performance-enhancing drugs. Miller later said the interview was “pretty warped” and took the quotes out of context.
“That’s good for our sport,” said Rahlves, a medal contender in downhill, super-G and giant slalom. “To me, it’s not really a big issue of me getting all the press. It’s more like trying to get our sport some press, to get people to know what’s coming up. … What it comes down to, ultimately, is who’s going to be skiing faster.”At one point during Tuesday’s news conference, the moderator broke in to ask several questions of the other team members before questioning was opened up again. All queries were again directed at Miller, who left before reporters had a chance to speak to him in smaller groups.”Glad you guys are willing to mix up the questions,” Miller joked at one point.His teammates say the focus on Miller has taken some pressure off them.”It’s to be expected,” said Ted Ligety, a slalom specialist. “If you’re the best, you deserve the most attention for what you’re doing.”
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