NBC Olympics analyst Bode Miller received backlash on social media for suggesting, on Valentine’s Day, that a female Austrian skier’s recent struggles could be due to the fact that she recently got married.
During Anna Veith’s first run in the Giant Slalom, Miller’s fellow NBC announcer Dan Hicks said that Veith, who won the Giant Slalom at Sochi 2014, had been struggling due to a knee injury. Miller then chimed in to add another reason why she’d fallen off from her gold-medal form.
“The knee is certainly an issue,” Miller, a five-time Olympic medalist in his own right, said. “I want to point out, she also got married. It’s historically very challenging to race on World Cup with a family or after being married. You know, not to blame the spouses, but I just want to toss that out there that it might be her husband’s fault.”
Miller’s comments were followed by an awkward silence before Hicks resumed normal commentary without acknowledging Miller’s comments.
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Veith, who previously competed under her maiden name Fenninger, married Manuel Veith in November 2016.
The often controversial Miller’s comments were not well received on social media, as many felt similar comments would not be made about a male skier.
Miller clarified his comments in later coverage of the men’s Downhill, saying he knows first-hand how much support a spouse can provide a skier competing on the world stage. Miller won a Super-G bronze in Sochi after he married Morgan Beck in 2012.
“Yea, I apologize. That was an ill-advised attempt at a joke,” Miller said. “I was an athlete that 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 are inevitably your biggest supporter. And on Valentine’s Day I didn’t mean to throw spouses under the bus. Certainly, I’m going to be hearing it from my wife, I know.”