January 9, 2006

Ski association condemns Miller alcohol comment

By Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. ski and
snowboard association has condemned comments by World Cup
champion Bode Miller on drinking in the sport and said he
planned to tackle the Alpine skier about them this week.

"The on-camera comments by Bode Miller on CBS's "60
Minutes" on Sunday (January 8) relative to alcohol use in
conjunction with competition are unacceptable within the values
expected of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association," USSA
President and CEO Bill Marolt said in a statement from Park
City, Utah on Monday.

Miller, 28, said during an interview that partying had
sometimes affected his condition at the start of races and
alluded to skiing under the influence of alcohol.

"There have been times when I've been in really tough shape
at the top of the course," he said.

The New Hampshire racer, who skis in all four Alpine
disciplines and won world championship gold medals at downhill
and super-G last year, said skiing under those conditions down
a slalom course could be dangerous.

"It's like driving drunk, only there are no rules about it
in ski racing," he said.

Marolt said alcohol use by an athlete was irresponsible and
sent a "dangerously inappropriate" message to skiers and
snowboarders, especially young ones.

"I will meet with Bode personally this week to discuss the
issue and to work with him to both recognize the seriousness of
his comments and to reach a positive outcome," Marolt said.

The American racer told reporters in Adelboden,
Switzerland, last week that he had acknowledged only that he
had raced with a hangover the morning after celebrating last
season's overall World Cup title.

Miller's fast and furious brand of skiing and backwoods New
Hampshire upbringing captivated World Cup fans and he became
only the second American man to win the overall title after
Phil Mahre in 1982.

But the 2002 Olympic silver medallist's candour has raised
eyebrows. He has questioned why some performance-enhancing
drugs are illegal, and mentions recreational drug use in an

Miller has also tangled frequently with the International
Ski Federation and earlier this season threatened to quit the
circuit after being fined for failing to take a regulation boot
test after the first leg of a race. He later relented.