Bode Miller
Getty Images

Bode Miller joins NBC Olympics, explains end of ski racing career

1 Comment

Bode Miller will head to PyeongChang as an Alpine skiing analyst for NBC Olympics, rather than bid to make a sixth Olympic team at age 40.

Miller, the most decorated U.S. Olympic skier with six medals, called his decision not to race again “easy.” He made it months ago. Nothing changed in his life that made him rethink it.

“It had kind of been a long time coming,” said Miller, who last raced at the February 2015 World Championships, severing a hamstring tendon in a super-G crash (video here). “But just with my kids and the time and life, when I look at skiing now, I don’t really feel like I have anything, the motivation, the desire, the everything to kind of go through it again. Aside from the logistical challenges and my priorities and my family being first and not being able to put any of that aside to train and prepare the way I know I need to, I have so much experience. I know there’s no shortcuts in what I would have to do to really take a pretty solid commitment on my part. That would mean sacrificing a lot of other things.

“It would be one thing if it was a different sport like, you know, golf or tennis or something where I could go out there and limp into it. But skiing is just so dangerous and risky, and there’s so much there that can go bad for you. I think just the preparation for it is so demanding. It’s just not feasible to get that done.”

It’s the end of arguably the greatest Olympic skiing career in U.S. history.

Miller, who debuted at the Olympics in 1998 at age 20, earned two silver medals in 2002, a medal of every color in 2010 (after a well-publicized failure in 2006) and a bronze in 2014 (oldest Olympic Alpine medalist in history).

Only retired short track speed skater Apolo Ohno has more Winter Olympic medals among Americans with eight.

Miller also won world championships in four different disciplines and a pair of World Cup overall titles.

What will he miss? Any regrets?

“I never really feel like I miss anything,” he said. “I had such a long career. I think things ran their course. I tend to process things pretty much real time. I think that I was aware as I went through it I made sure I got the most out of skiing and my experiences. … I definitely don’t have regrets about the way that I did things.”

Miller did things his way. On the race courses with a trademark go-for-broke style. Off of it, too. He rubbed some the wrong way and even competed separate from the U.S. Ski Team at times.

“Of course, I made a lot of mistakes and stupid things, but above all I was able to do it the way that I wanted to and the way that I felt I should,” Miller said. “That, I think, is my biggest accomplishment.”

Miller is the first of the golden generation of U.S. Alpiners to bring the curtain down. Miller, Ted LigetyLindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso all developed in the early 2000s and won Olympic gold medals.

The PyeongChang Winter Games are expected to be the final Olympics for Vonn and Mancuso. Ligety, at 33 years old with a wife and child, has not ruled out 2022.

Miller gained experience as an analyst for NBC Sports the last two World Cup seasons. It came pretty naturally. He has no reservations offering critical analysis of his former peers.

“I think people have always pointed out that I can be critical and kind of harsh that way,” Miller said. “Once you get to know me, or once you see that it’s never done in a malicious way at all, I just don’t have that in me. It’s not coming from a place of mean. It’s coming from a place of stating factual stuff from my perspective. I think people are OK with that for the most part.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: What to watch every day of the PyeongChang Olympics

Lawmakers choke back tears, scream at Olympic sport leaders for sex-abuse scandal

AP
Leave a comment

WASHINGTON (AP) — The tears and anger this time came from lawmakers who spent the day fuming over a growing sex-abuse problem in Olympic sports that leaders have taken too much time to solve while devoting too little money for the fixes.

“I just hope everyone here realizes the time to talk is over, and you need to walk your talk,” Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said Wednesday shortly after choking back tears while questioning leaders of the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Center for SafeSport.

The hearing of the House subcommittee was filled with both substance and spectacle — the latter coming mostly courtesy of a five-minute burst from Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., who told the USOC’s acting CEO, Susanne Lyons, “you should resign your position now,” and tore into USA Gymnastics CEO Kerry Perry and the rest of the panel for not uttering the exact words: “I’m sorry.”

“If you don’t want to say you’re sorry, I don’t want to talk to you,” said Carter, who represents the district where a lawsuit that triggered the mushrooming scandal in gymnastics was filed.

In fact, members on the panel of U.S. sports executives did apologize to the victims, whose numbers grow almost daily and whose pain was most heart-wrenchingly displayed during the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, the Michigan State doctor who also worked for the U.S. gymnastics team.

But set against the USOC’s slow-moving reforms, to say nothing of the raw numbers presented by SafeSport CEO Shellie Pfohl, some of the apologies felt hollow.

The USOC started talking about reforming its sex-abuse policy in 2010 after a scandal was exposed inside of USA Swimming. From then, it took seven years to open the SafeSport center to independently investigate sex-abuse claims made by Olympic athletes. Pfohl described an office that has been overwhelmed in the 14 months it has been in business.

— When it opened in March 2017, Pfohl said the center received 20 to 30 calls a month. In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the Nassar case, that has increased to about 20 to 30 calls per week.

— SafeSport operates on a budget of $4.3 million a year, $1.55 million of which was recently added as part of the USOC’s mission to bolster its response to the abuse issue. That brought the USOC’s contribution to $3.1 million. (By comparison, the USOC gave the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, in charge of Olympic drug testing in the United States, $3.7 million in 2016. Its budget is more than $19 million.)

— The budget is enough for 14 full-time employees, which includes five full-time investigators. Seven additional investigators work on a contract basis. The center has fielded 840 reports over 14 months. Reports have come in regarding 38 of the 49 national governing bodies.

— Part of the delay in opening the SafeSport center came because the USOC met reluctance from almost everyone in funding, both from outside and inside the Olympic movement. The NGBs are charged on a sliding scale, depending on their size. USA Swimming contributed only $43,000 this year, “but we’re one of the larger NGBs, and based on who we are, we could provide more resources,” CEO Tim Hinchey said.

Pfohl said she wouldn’t turn it down.

Meanwhile, she is still waiting for paperwork to apply for a $2.5 million grant the government wrote into this year’s budget. (The government gave $9.5 million to USADA in 2016.)

The witnesses testified to a continued lack of uniformity in sex-abuse policies among the NGBs, despite efforts that date to at least 2013. Some publish full lists of banned coaches and athletes. Some distribute them only to members of the organizations. Under terms of a recently passed law to protect athletes, the NGBs are supposed to be audited randomly by the SafeSport center, but that project is hamstrung because resources do not exist.

Meanwhile, the role of the USOC in overseeing it all remains confusing.

Brought up more than once was an exchange during a deposition for a sex-abuse lawsuit in which a USOC lawyer was asked if protecting athletes was a top priority for the federation.

“The USOC does not have athletes,” answered Gary Johansen — speaking to the reality that, except during the Olympics, athletes technically fall under the umbrella of their individual sports.

Lyons said that mindset will change.

“We do hold ourselves responsible, and if there’s a failing, it’s from not properly exercising our authority,” she said.

One of the best examples of the USOC using that authority has been the top-to-bottom housecleaning it demanded from USA Gymnastics.

Most news about the federation’s changes, however, has been delivered in long news releases. Wednesday marked the first time Perry has made public comments since her hiring in December. She left after the hearing without taking questions.

“I’m glad you’re here today, but a lot of people have wanted to hear from you since you took the job,” Dingell said.

But Dingell didn’t really like what she heard — “I don’t hear a sense of urgency,” she said — and she was not alone.

“As compared to how much money a district attorney’s office has, or how much money a Title IX office has at a school, it’s not in the same ballpark at all,” Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Olympic swimmer and outspoken critic of the USOC’s efforts, said of the SafeSport budget. “Shellie desperately needs more money.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Rhonda Faehn, women’s program head, ‘no longer with USA Gymnastics’

Lindsey Vonn, Ronda Rousey among athletes featured on Shark Week

AP
Leave a comment

Olympic medalists Lindsey Vonn and Ronda Rousey headline an athlete roster appearing on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week in two months.

They follow Michael Phelps‘ much talked about Shark Week shows last year.

Vonn will appear on a show called “Monster Tag.” Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski are also included.

They “will join forces with top shark scientists to learn crucial information about the ocean’s top predators,” according to Discovery Channel.

Rousey, a 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist, will dive with a mako shark in “Uncaged: Shark vs. Ronda Rousey.” The title is similar to “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White” from last year.

“First, Rousey, in a cage, dives into the ring with several lightweight shark species in the waters off Fiji and then moves onto the main event in New Zealand where she’ll ‘free dive uncaged’ with the heavyweight mako shark,” according to Discovery Channel.

More on Shark Week from Discovery Channel is here.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Vonn’s proposal to race men tabled