March 17, 2008

US claims the crystal globe: : US skiers Lindsay Vonn and Bode Miller took the women's and men's overall World Cup Sunday, claiming the highest honors in one of the world's most challenging athletic competitions. Miller and Vonn each also claimed a discipline World Cup, in super combi and downhill respectively. The US total of five crystal globes (Ted Ligety of the US won the men's GS World Cup) was the most of any competing nation.

posted by lil_brown_bat to other at 08:27 AM - 6 comments

I'm pleased to be the first to congratulate the much maligned* Bode Miller *By me **For the love of God, man! How do you do the small fonts?

posted by cjets at 04:17 PM on March 17, 2008

I don't know bout all that fancy techno computer dealies, cjets, but did I read correctly somewhere that Bode Miller's whole team quit for family reasons? If true, sucks to be him.

posted by THX-1138 at 07:40 PM on March 17, 2008

THX, Bode (who skis as an independent representing the USA) lost his head coach, Johno McBride, who has a new baby -- not the sort of situation that allows for spending more than half the year on the road. The US Ski Team also lost its head men's coach, Phil McNichol, who also wants to spend more time with his family. Bode has a lot of options at this point, and the rumors are flyin' -- that he's going to continue with Team America (his indie team-of-one) under a new head coach, that he'll rejoin the US team, that Bill Marolt is going to resign as CEO of the USSA (which might making rejoining the US team attractive to Bode -- I think he won't do it while Marolt is at the helm), that some equipment manufacturers are thinking about creating sponsorship-based teams. Perhaps the juiciest rumor is that some of the US Ski Team's top performers might split and join Bode on Team America. Any way you slice it, Bode's resounding success in his first year outside the structure of the pseudo-national teams that exist now has a lot of people questioning whether coloring outside the lines is such a bad idea. I think it's a good thing for the sport, the athletes and the fans. It just won't be so good for the six-figure-salaried time-servers like Marolt.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:06 AM on March 18, 2008

Sorry for my confusion. Goddam newspapers are purveyors of lies I tells ya'! And I'm not very bright. That should be factored in as well.

posted by THX-1138 at 10:11 AM on March 18, 2008

There's something that I don't understand about all this. Miller's success came after he left the US Team, but Vonn and Ligety enjoyed their triumphs from within the team. Is it a personal thing with Miller, or just that being able to do his own training suits his style? No matter what the answers are, you have to admit that the condition of US Skiing looks as good now as it ever has. (Back to the bunny slopes for me.)

posted by Howard_T at 11:26 AM on March 18, 2008

I think it's some of both, Howard. The US Ski Team has some rules that aren't as functional as they sound. For example, there's a rule that athletes under the age of 21 may not drink -- even when they're traveling in countries where the drinking age is "tall enough to see over the bar". Getting falling-down drunk every night is obviously not functional, but there's no harm in having an occasional beer or glass of wine with dinner -- and telling adults that they may not engage in legal conduct, for an arbitrary reason, when all these other people who are just like them except for the colors of their flag are doing so, for six months of the not very functional. Likewise, the regulation that athletes must stay in the team hotel: it sounds like a sensible thing, maybe a wee bit meanie when you consider that it prevents athletes from ever spending the night with friends or relatives...but when you realize that they're not exactly staying in the Marriott, that the rooms in many of these European mountain-town "hotels" are small and cramped and the beds are made for people well under six feet tall, it adds up to a less than restful environment. The hotel-stay thing became a big bone of contention when Bode got a sponsor to provide him with a motorhome to live in during the tour. From his perspective, it was great: he didn't have to live out of a suitcase, he slept in the same bed (one big enough for a 6' 2" guy) every night, he could have some of the comforts of home that most traveling athletes can't have, he had a guy to drive the bus and cook for him so he had more consistent and better quality meals. None of this cost the US Ski Team a cent, and no one's yet come up with a rational explanation for why the bus was such a problem. It seems that it really ground Bill Marolt's gears, though. So, Bode did this for a year -- IIRC that was the first year he won the overall -- and then a year later, Julia Mancuso got a sponsor to come up with an RV for her. Guess what, she loved it too -- but after that season, the edict came down, everyone must stay in the team hotel. Control freak stuff. So, I think the whole thing began because Bode thinks he knows what's best for him, as far as his training, accommodations, etc. The results would tend to support him. Bode is one of the hardest-training athletes anywhere -- that's why he continues to win. He puts himself through an incredible training regime -- but he wants to do it at home in New Hampshire, not at the US Ski Team's training facility. He would rather push a 600-pound stone tennis court roller or a wheelbarrow full of rocks up a hill at a sprint, than run on a treadmill in Park City. He figures that living out of a motorhome leaves him in better condition to compete than cramped beds, multiple roommates and bad food. It started out functional...but after being slapped over and over for stepping out of line, not to chase hookers and blow but to pursue a functional regime, I'd guess it's substantially personal at this point. I'd also guess that what got up Bode's nose, would probably get up any athlete's nose. There are other reasons for pissoff with the US team, too (like how four B team members were sent retroactive bills to the tune of $40,000 apiece charging them for their participation in training and travel, when such charges had never been hinted of before). So while Vonn and Ligety (and Mancuso, and Stiegler and McCartney before they got injured, and Cook and Nyman and so on) have all been having some measure of success, it's not clear if it's because of the US Ski Team program or in spite of it.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:15 PM on March 18, 2008

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