Wed, Jan 11, 2006 - Page 19 News List

US champ sparks row with remark on drunken skiing

AP , WENGEN, SWITZERLAND

The head of US skiing on Monday called Bode Miller's comments about drinking and racing "unacceptable" and "irresponsible," and he plans to meet with the champion skier.

Bill Marolt, the president and chief executive of the US Ski and Snowboard Association, released a statement in response to the profile of Miller broadcast on CBS' 60 Minutes on Sunday night.

He said Miller's remarks "relative to alcohol use in conjunction with competition are unacceptable within the values expected of US Ski and Snowboard Association athletes."

Marolt, who is based in Park City, Utah, is making an unscheduled trip to this week's World Cup races in Switzerland to speak to Miller to "work with him to both recognize the seriousness of his comments and to reach a positive outcome."

"Not only is the use of alcohol irresponsible on the part of an athlete, but it is also a dangerously inappropriate message to send to participants in our sport, especially young skiers and snowboarders," Marolt said.

The International Ski Federation said it wanted the US ski team to address the latest controversy surrounding the outspoken reigning overall World Cup champion.

Miller told the CBS program 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 ... If you ever tried to ski when you're wasted, it's not easy," Miller said. "Try and ski a slalom when ... 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."

Asked if the risk meant he would never ski drunk again, the 28-year-old Miller replied, "No, I'm not saying that."

Miller, who last season became the first US skier to win the overall World Cup title in 22 years, has argued the comments were taken out of context. His agent, Lowell Taub, criticized the way the interview was characterized in excerpts and media accounts.

"The story was more gracious than we were expecting after hearing all the interview hype," said Dean Stoyer, a Nike spokesman.

"Everybody was expecting a devastating story. Obviously, Nike doesn't support drinking and skiing, or drinking and sports activities," he added. "The two don't mix. We certainly don't condone that nor recommend being under the influence and skiing."

Barilla pasta representative Fabio Fortina said that the Italian company would continue to support Miller.

The Winter Games will be held in Turin, Italy, on Feb. 10-26.

Miller has drawn attention -- and criticism -- for his outspokenness. He has called anti-doping rules in skiing that he deems too strict "a joke," and was fined last month for refusing to take a boot test to ensure his equipment conformed to regulations after a World Cup slalom. He also has threatened to launch a rebel ski tour.

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