Bode Miller couldn’t catch his words as quickly as he used to turn down the mountain.
The former US skiing star, who is making his TV debut as a skiing analyst for NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, apologized repeatedly Thursday for comments he made during the women’s giant slalom event about a racer’s relationship having an effect performance. During a discussion about the recent struggles of Austria’s Anna Veith, a two-time medalist in Sochi, Miller suggested her marriage in 2016 may have contributed to the decline.
“I apologize. It was an ill-advised attempt at a joke,” Miller said, when prompted by on-air partner Dan Hicks. “You know, I was an athlete who competed after marriage, and I know how beneficial it is, I know the support team you need. I relied on my friends and family, and if you have the luxury of relying on a spouse I know they’re inevitably your biggest supported, and on Valentine’s Day, I did not mean to throw spouses under the bus.
“Certainly I’m going to be hearing it from my wife, I know.”
Miller — who has four children with three different women including two with his current wife, former professional beach volleyball player Morgan Beck — alluded he was speaking from experience on the strain a marriage can have on a skier competing on the World Cup circuit, such as Veith. The NBC duo noted that Veith, the 2014 overall World Cup champion, hasn’t been the same since tearing her ACL before the 2016 season before Miller chimed in with his alternate reason.
“The knee is certainly an issue,” Miller said. “I want to point out she also got married. And it’s historically very challenging to race on a World Cup with a family or after being married.”
“Not to blame the spouses,” he continued, “but I just want to toss it out there that it may be her husband’s fault.”
Miller later added to his apology on Twitter, reiterating he was not “seriously blaming” Veith’s struggles on her husband and appreciate the support of his wife while he was racing.
Veith finished her first run in 15th, 1.81 seconds behind the leader, Italy’s Manuela Meolgg.
Miller, 40, retired from skiing last year after a career that included five Olympics and and six medals, including one gold in 2010 in Vancouver.