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Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most

Feb 16, 2014, 9:55 PM EST

bodemorganAP AP

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — It has been manifest since he strapped his boots into into skis here at the Rosa Khutor complex that Bode Miller was racing with a higher sense of purpose at these Olympic Games.

He has wanted it bad, perhaps too badly, sought in the expression of sport and art that has always been his calling, in the rush of a minute or maybe two in the joinder of man and mountain, to find that moment of clarity and, indeed, of transcendence.

At the bottom of the hill Sunday, when the big scoreboard said he was on his way to winning an Olympic medal for the sixth time in his storied career, Miller cried. His wife, Morgan, cried. They hugged each other. Holding an American flag, she helped him regain his composure amid television interviews. Later, on the podium, the flag draped over his right shoulder, before congratulating the others — because Miller has always believed in sportsmanship — he appeared to be alone with his thoughts.

VIDEO: Bode Miller’s emotional strength (Tom Brokaw interview)

And then it all became clear.

Miller’s younger brother, Chelone, died at age 29 last April, found dead of an apparent seizure in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., in the van Bode had bought for him. A snowboarder known to family and friends as “Chilly,” he had been in a dirt bike crash in 2005; thereafter he suffered from chronic seizures.

“Losing my brother this year,” Miller would say, “was really hard for myself, my family, our sort of whole community.

“I have been a focal point for them over the years — my racing. It was just — yeah, a lot of emotion. To have things go well today, as well as they did, I felt very fortunate to come out with a medal. Just, um, everything felt pretty raw and pretty connected. It was a lot for me.”

VIDEO: Bode Miller claims 6th Olympic medal

In a profile published before the Games in ESPN The Magazine, Miller disclosed that he and Morgan had gone to California to pick up the van and Chilly’s ashes. They even spent a night in the van.

“It’s super-emotional,” Miller was quoted as saying in that story, “and there is a lot of love and passion and power there. If you can channel that into ski racing, it’s possibly something that could make a difference.”

After the flower ceremony Sunday had concluded, he would Tweet:

Morgan would tweet:

“I’m skiing the best I’m skiing in my entire life,” Miller said at one point Sunday, explaining that conditions so far through these Games — changing light, soft snow — “don’t suit me very well.”

That’s why, after being favored in the downhill, he finished eighth. The defending Olympic champion in the super-combined, he finished sixth.

“I’m trying,” he said, “to do everything I can.”

It’s why he looked so focused Sunday morning in the super-G start gate. It was, he would say afterward, “probably if not the most important [race] of my life, right there with it.”

Miller’s run Sunday saw him rocket through the top section of the course. But a mistake off a late jump had him worried that he had given up too much time to stay in the medal hunt.

He ran 13th, then waited and watched. Only Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud, who won the race, in 1:18.14, and American Andrew Weibrecht, improbably, who started 29th, and surged to second; 23-hundredths of a second ahead, ran faster. Canada’s Jan Hudec would tie Miller for bronze, 53-hundredths back of Jansrud.

VIDEO: Matt Lauer talks with Bode Miller, Andrew Weibrecht

Miller’s super-G medal is the sixth in his Olympic career. That ties him with Bonnie Blair for the second-most ever by a U.S. Winter Olympic athlete. Apolo Ohno has eight.

“I have never,” he said, “been so stuck on counting them. For me, I have put in a lot of work. This is a really hard year. A lot of effort coming back, to get fit and get ready, and just battle through everything life throws at you sometimes.

“To come out and ski hard — it’s almost therapeutic for me to be in these situations where I really get to test myself. So I was happy to have it be on the right side of the hundredths. Some days, like I said, medals don’t matter. Today was one of the days where it does matter.”

  1. marquispub - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:18 PM

    Christen Cooper evoked a landslide of anger from the fans….and NBC had the chance to edit this interview and didn’t? Unbelievable how LOW this organization has sunk.

    • reynoldsm2014 - Feb 17, 2014 at 1:00 AM

      Totally agree. Another example of NBC thinking “sensational sells.” Thank goodness I can also watch overseas unbiased coverage.

    • snwmr01 - Feb 17, 2014 at 1:31 AM

      The shameless interview done with Mr. Bode was the worst I’ve witnessed. I’m still shocked just thinking about how rude and intrusive it was. Perhaps it can be put down to inexperience, but the reporter needs to extend an apology to Mr. Bode and to the viewers who were subjected to this shudder-inducing excuse for an interview.

  2. taos101 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    Still no NBC-SN apology for this interview? Really?

  3. drkend - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:26 PM

    Thank you NBC for reminding me why I stopped viewing your news broadcasts years ago. The interview of Bode Miller was disgraceful. Congratulations Cooper, you got him to cry. Sleep well. When you grow up maybe you will have a conscience.

    • pjmiller15 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:30 PM

      She must have gone to the Jim Gray school of journalism

  4. pjmiller15 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:29 PM

    another Jim Gray moment – This was not a moment for a hard hitting interview, let the man have his moment. Totally spoiled it for him – shame. shame. shame. Cooper, a little thing called Karma, don’t be surprised when a special moment is ruined.

  5. vtgolfr - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:31 PM

    That was one of the most disgusting interviews I have watched. Cooper showed no class as did NBC by airing such a poor piece of reporting. Her sole purpose seemed to be to see if she could elicit some sort of emotional response by continuing to probe with questions about Bode’s deceased brother. The race produced such a “feel good” moment for the viewers that was quickly ruined by this inappropriate and amateurish interview. She should apologize as should NBC. I hope NBC has the good sense to not allow their viewing audience to be exposed to this National Enquirer type journalism again during these games.

    Unfortunately my guess is that we will hear no apologies from Christen Cooper or NBC.

  6. csilojohnson - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    Wow. 100% of comments share same oppinion. Dont think ive ever witnessed this..
    Better do something about it NBC.

  7. patrioticgreen - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:36 PM

    The “interview” was appalling and NBC should not have included it in the time delayed coverage.

  8. caireen69 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    I want to say great job Bode Miller on the medal!

    I also want to say who was that poor excuse of an reporter Kristen Cooper? How does badgering an athlete about a death of his brother have ANYTHING to do with his winning a medal in the Olympics? I’m sure his brother was on his mind, but first that’s between Bode and no one else, second where in anyone’s mind is that ok? I’m glad Bode has class, if it were me she would be eating that microphone!

    Finally, WTH NBC, I’ve never seen such horrid interviews. Bode’s interview wasn’t the first stupid moments in sport interview I’ve seen this Olympics. The other night an athlete just got bumped to fourth and the reporter asked, “How do you feel right now?” I was flabbergasted, I thought oh he’s feeling just great he didn’t want any medals. I understand you are trying to show the “human” side of the athletes but there are less idiotic ways of doing that! Way to stay classy NBC.

    • reynoldsm2014 - Feb 17, 2014 at 1:11 AM

      Again, NBC has heightened its jingoistic, biased and “stupid” quotient with this version of Olympics coverage. In addition to this unbelievable “interview” there have been idiotic and inappropriate interviews and questions; an interview with a US athlete who finish eighth, because the winner was from a foreign country (even though they spoke great English and had just won the gold for the n-th time – an incredible achievement!); and other interviews not reflecting the fact that this is an international sporting event and not an American – only Olympics!!! So much for letting audiences really experience the world.

  9. berlinmdgirl - Feb 17, 2014 at 12:14 AM

    Why? Why would you do that to someone.shame on you NBC! I think you crossed the line. Cheap journalism!!!

  10. corywalker1 - Feb 17, 2014 at 12:17 AM

    Bode, we love you here in Utah. Can’t wait to see you back on the slopes in Park City!!!

  11. susanbrower2014 - Feb 17, 2014 at 12:22 AM

    After watching Bode Miller being interviewed by Christen Cooper I was appalled!!! She asked Bode about his thoughts regarding his skiing & his brother who passed away this year. Bode was visibly upset from her questions & she wouldn’t quit. The more it affected him the more she heartlessly continued to push him to answer more & more questions about his brother. Bode started to cry & she still wouldn’t stop. I’ve never seen an interview like it before & hope I never see it again!

  12. jonaudette - Feb 17, 2014 at 12:43 AM

    Christin Cooper should be fired. Zero class, no sense of tact, and perfectly fine with badgering someone unnecessarily. She shouldn’t be taken seriously as a journalist, and should never set foot in front of a camera again. Or open her mouth.

  13. jnaphan - Feb 17, 2014 at 1:07 AM

    I agree with all the previous comments about Ms Coopers interview. It was disgusting and the lowest form of journalism I have witnessed in a long time. This woman has no place in Journalism as I want to see it. NBC owes Bode Miller and his family and the fans an apology. If I want this kind of reporting I can buy a National Inquirer.

  14. reynoldsm2014 - Feb 17, 2014 at 1:20 AM

    It’s often said that “the buck stops here” and in this case it means head of the network Bob Greenblatt. He should already have been on the ‘phone recalling Cooper from the Games and sending her where she really belongs, back home without a job in broadcasting.

  15. milepost235 - Feb 17, 2014 at 2:05 AM

    NBC had over 12 hours to mull over airing Christin Cooper’s disgusting interview with Bode Miller, and they chose to take the low road. And don’t give me that they were “obligated” to air it, as it was “news.” First of all, they hardly air any of the events (let alone all of them), and it was hardly news. I can forgive the first question, and possibly even the first followup, but to keep digging like Cooper did was beyond the pale. This was a reporter picking at a sore, pure and simple. Even if making Miller break down was not her intention, NBC had half of a day to decide whether to turn what should have been a celebration of Miller’s accomplishment into an assault on his dignity. This was a serious lapse of professional judgement both by Cooper and NBC Sports.

    I’m glad that Bode has taken the high road in response to this interview; he certainly could have been forgiven if he didn’t. What is a shame is that this awful interview is pushing to the side what we should be discussing, which is the race itself. Congratulations to Kjetil Jansrud, Andrew Weibrecht, Bode Miller, and Jan Hudec for a race well skied.

  16. janessa31888 - Feb 17, 2014 at 6:07 AM

    What a thoughtless, tasteless person. Trying to get points for making him cry. Man, reporters can be so heartless.

  17. jabianch - Feb 17, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    Kristen Cooper is a poor excuse for a journalist and shame on the producers for allowing her to continue torturing Bode Miller in her interview with him. If the US hockey team should happen to lose, please let her conduct the same type of interview with Dustin Brown.

  18. spacecop2010 - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    SHAMEFUL! What a stark contrast – Bode Miller a true professional in every regard compared to NBC’s Kristen Cooper’s amateur, tasteless behavior. Very consistent with NBC’s values and need to claw themselves up the rating ladder no matter how they do it. They should feel embarrassed…don’t wait for an apology…likely not coming.

  19. pitman919 - Feb 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    I hope you’re proud of yourself Christin Cooper. You need to learn when enough is enough already. What a way to push an Olympian to tears. Would you have appreciated that kind of journalism if the shoes were on your feet? I think not. Bode Miller did not need salt rubbed in his wound. Time to learn when compassion is more important than ratings. Maybe you were the one looking for attention. Well you got it. I hope you’re happy. And shame on NBC for airing the entire interview when they could have cut it short. Time to wake up people.

  20. ddimatt89 - Feb 17, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Truly disgusting that’s all I can say. So “when you are looking up in th sky what are you thinking? Are u thinking about your brother??” This after he’s already visibly upset and has tears in his eyes. ..AWESOME WAY TO GO!!! When you look up in the sky do you see your career in flames? ???

  21. kapcatch - Feb 17, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    Who are these morons actually responding with a “thumbs down” to any of these comments? Must be Christin Cooper herself and some intern from NBC. Perhaps those responding in such a way are just heartless themselves and are unable to understand human decency and compassion?

  22. worewren - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    Waited for the late night interview thinking that NBC would apologies…. Nothing!
    What a lousy network are there no standards or evaluation of what is aired? Surely there was more than enough time to cut the interview and redo it. I hope those that respond here will continue to hound Cooper and the network for the cowardly and insensitive coverage.

  23. sideache - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    Despite the fact that Miller has come to Cooper’s defense doesn’t negate the fact that Cooper’s interview was painful to watch. The final question about looking into the sky was horrific. Yes, Miller mentioned his brother first and maybe a follow-up could be justified – but they kept coming, and coming. And for goodness sake – the “looking into the sky question”.

    She went too far. She even admitted it when she apologized as he bent over sobbing.

    • hayblack - Feb 18, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      2 thumbs up for Bode Miller! He can overlook Christen Cooper’s relentless badgering because he’s the better person who sees the best in everyone. Wish I could forgive her that easily…….not happening!

  24. taos101 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    Good point Cate, why did NBC SN allow that interview to air. It was pure dumb and ugly. Shame on Kristen Cooper. And now, shame on the enablers – NBC Sports Network

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