He is the Zorro of the slopes – impulsive, daring, charismatic and, most importantly, a man hidden behind a mask.But instead of dashing about castles and dungeons, saving damsels in distress from nefarious foes, this mysterious figure is cutting through the snow, precariously balancing himself on the slim line that constantly separates success and failure.
Unfortunately for U.S. Olympic skier Bode Miller, however, Zorro doesn’t have to take off his mask before hundreds of international media. No, reporters want Miller to answer questions about ill-advised comments in interviews, questions about a social life spinning out of control, questions about supposed half-hearted efforts in big-time competition.
Bode, this may be one fall you don’t get up from.
It’s been just over a month since Miller’s highly publicized “60 Minutes” release that broke the news of him admitting he skied drunk at last year’s World Cup, but the snowstorm surrounding his public image rages on. To make matters worse, the Winter Olympics are just around the corner, and the American people are turning an increasingly critical eye toward one of their best hopes for a gold medal.
So how fair is this brutal criticism?
In all honesty, Miller is just a small-town kind of guy from New Hampshire; a rural wild child who has been suddenly thrust into the national spot-light. While he obviously has the burden of properly representing his country in the upcoming months, he also has an undeniable responsibility to himself, a deep seated refusal to conform to the political correct persona we have so blandly come to expect from our international icons.
While Miller was obviously in the wrong by failing to reconcile his competitive schedule with his social one back in March 2005, it is difficult to fault the man for laying himself on the line by honestly recounting a scenario that he could have easily lied about and covered up. The name Mark McGwire comes to mind.
Frankly, I’m refreshed. I’m glad I can open a sports magazine and read total truth. Yeah, Bode messed up, and yes, he should face some sort of ramifications for his inebriated incident. But he should also be supported for never denying the person he is at heart. We can ridicule him all we want for misrepresenting the USA on a national scale, but perhaps Miller is really an icon for everything the American people base their ideals on: candor, fearlessness … individualism.
In a world full of greys, Bode Miller is one of the lone figures that still burns red, white and blue.
Travis Stewart is a junior broadcast journalism major from Sugar Land.