Originally created 01/09/06

FIS wants Bode Miller's comments on partying addressed



ADELBODEN, Switzerland - The International Ski Federation wants the U.S. ski team to address the latest controversy surrounding outspoken reigning overall World Cup champion Bode Miller.

United States Skiing and Snowboard Association President and CEO Bill Marolt is expected to fly to next week's World Cup races in Switzerland to speak to Miller, who said in a "60 Minutes" interview that partying affected his performance in the past.

U.S. alpine director Jesse Hunt, who was scheduled to join the team in Europe on Tuesday, moved his flight up a day.

"It's up to his own federation to take action," FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis said Sunday. "We have talked to the U.S. federation about it, whether what he is saying is good for the image of the sport and good for the image of the U.S. ski team.

"They say they are dealing with it. But with Bode they are on thin ice."

Miller told the CBS Sunday night program, which released written excerpts Thursday, that "there have 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 second, so it's risky. You're putting your life at risk.... It's like driving drunk, only there are 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 U.S. skier to win the overall World Cup title in 22 years, has argued the comments were taken out of context and his agent, Lowell Taub, criticized the way the interview was characterized in excerpts and media accounts.

Miller, who veered off course on the first run of a World Cup slalom Sunday in Adelboden, has drawn attention - and criticism - before for being outspoken.

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.

His irreverent attitude, late-night habits and stubborn refusal to compromise with coaches make him popular with the younger generation.

"He is a charismatic personality that youngsters look up to and appreciate," Lewis said. "He's clearly outspoken, but these comments are going a bit too far. Is it something you really want kids to be doing? Skiing on the slopes after a few drinks?

"You've got to balance between what is cool and what's stupid. This does not come across as too cool."