The skier, who lost his brother in April, broke down after winning bronze

By Sheila Cosgrove Baylis
February 17, 2014 12:10 PM

Alpine ski racer Bode Miller‘s emotional Olympic moment is getting as much attention as his accomplishment – a bronze medal in the men’s super-G.

After finishing the race Sunday and learning of the result – a tie for third with Jan Hudec of Canada – Miller, 36, was interviewed by Christin Cooper for Sochi Games broadcaster NBC, and brought to tears by her questions about his brother, Chelone Miller, who died of an apparent seizure last April at age 29.

Cooper, an Olympic skier who won a silver medal in the 1984 Games for giant slalom, is being criticized online for her repeated questions about his emotional state, which was clearly fragile at the time of the interview.

“Bode, you’re showing so much emotion down here, what’s going through your mind?” Cooper asked, according to The New York Times. Miller responded, “A long struggle coming in here. And, uh, just a tough year.”

“I know you wanted to be here with Chelly experiencing these games,” Cooper continued. “How much does it mean to you to come up with a great performance for him? And was it for him?”

Miller said he wasn’t sure that the medal was for his brother, but rather to “make myself proud.”

Miller began to cry at this point, to which Cooper responded, “What’s going on there?” The question only encouraged his emotion, and Miller broke down and walked away from the interview.

Critics, like The Times, say Cooper’s interview, which reportedly lasted 75 seconds, was “overkill.” Some are also wondering why NBC didn’t edit or cut the moment for the primetime broadcast since the interview had been taped earlier in the day. Miller, however, has since defended Cooper in several Twitter posts:

Miller then retweeted a post that suggested the producers were at fault, and Cooper was being told what to ask.

NBC Sports released a statement to several news outlets, saying, “Our intent was to convey the emotion that Bode Miller was feeling after winning his bronze medal. We understand how some viewers thought the line of questioning went too far, but it was our judgment that his answers were a necessary part of the story. We’re gratified that Bode has been publicly supportive of Christin Cooper and the overall interview.”

In an interview with Matt Lauer Monday on Today, Miller reiterated his support of Cooper.

“I’ve known Christin a long time. She’s a sweetheart of a person. I know she didn’t mean to push,” he said. “I don’t blame her at all.”