WENGEN, Switzerland -- Relaxed and smiling but not talking, Bode Miller finished fifth during World Cup downhill training Wednesday while teammates, sponsors and officials awaited his response to criticism of comments he made about skiing and drinking.
Miller finished in 2 minutes, 31.06 seconds in an opening training run won by Olympic champion Fritz Strobl on the classic Lauberhorn course in 2:30.79. He left without speaking to reporters.
Miller has avoided the media since excerpts of a CBS interview were released last week. He is scheduled to make a statement Thursday.
"He wants to clarify his comments on the '60 Minutes' show that
aired Sunday," U.S. team spokesman Marc Habermann said. "With all
the media attention, he felt it necessary to clarify his point of
view and make the public and media understand his point of view."
Miller was summoned by United States Ski and Snowboard
Association president and chief executive Bill Marolt the previous
day to discuss his comments in an interview about skiing drunk.
The USSA was swamped with angry phone calls from team donors and
corporate sponsors after the overall World Cup champion said during
a "60 Minutes" profile on CBS that it's not easy "to ski when
Marolt traveled to Wengen following Sunday's show to meet with
Miller and "work with him to both recognize the seriousness of his
comments and to reach a positive outcome."
Two-time Olympic medalist Picabo Street commented on Miller's situation on Wednesday.
"[His comments do] concern me to some degree," Street told the Los Angeles Times. "But I hope everybody's able to remember, however, that it's an individual thing and if he does do something he regrets, that it's on him, it's not a direct reflection on our country.
"He's trying to see how far he has to go before he gets the bad-boy slash," she continued. "I think he also knows well enough how to get himself out of it, now that he's here."
Earlier this season, Miller caused an uproar by calling for
liberalized anti-doping rules. Teammates say they are now targeted
for increased drug testing.
Last month, Miller refused to take an equipment test to ensure
his ski boots conformed to regulations and was fined $762. The team
ended up paying the fine for him.
Miller, who last year threatened to skip the Olympics and launch
a rebel ski tour, often talks of a deep lack of motivation,
complains about sponsor obligations and gripes about excessive
Teammate Daron Rahlves, who is targeting the World Cup downhill
title in what is probably his final season on the circuit, finished
ninth. Rahlves, the winner of two downhill races this season, is
tied with Miller for second behind Benjamin Raich in the overall
World Cup standings.
Last year, Rahlves missed this race after a crash in the giant
slalom in Adelboden.
"It's good to be back racing in Wengen," he said. "I missed
this race last year," said Rahlves, who last year was forced to
sit out the prestigious race after a crash in the giant slalom in
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.