Bode Miller has leapt to the defence of an experienced NBC reporter who brought him to tears after he won Olympic super-G bronze with incessant references to his dead brother.
Christin Cooper interviewed Miller as the American, who became the oldest Olympic alpine skiing medallist when he won his sixth Winter Games medal on Sunday, made his way past television crews ahead of the medal ceremony.
But the experience opened some raw wounds for Miller, whose brother Chelone, a professional snowboarder, was found dead after an apparent seizure in April last year.
The skier replied: “It’s just a tough year. I don’t know if it’s really for him. I just wanted to come here and, I don’t know, I guess make myself proud.”
A moment’s silence passed before Cooper added: “When you’re looking up in the sky at the start… it just looks like you’re talking to somebody, what’s going on there?”
At that point, Miller’s emotions spilled over and he doubled up, laying his head on his forearm in front of the camera.
Cooper, a two-time Olympian and Olympic silver medallist who is working as an alpine skiing analyst for NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, immediately apologised and rubbed Miller’s shoulder.
Miller moved Monday to quell Internet protests at the handling of the interview by Cooper, in her third Olympics with the National Broadcasting Co. (NBC) — which paid $775 million to cover the Sochi Games, and her sixth as a broadcaster.
Chelone Miller’s death in April stemmed from a 2005 motorcycle accident that left him in a coma for 11 days, according to US Snowboarding.
Miller’s bronze was his sixth Olympic medal in alpine skiing. He had previously won one gold (combined 2010), three silvers (super-G 2010; combined and giant slalom, 2002) and one bronze (downhill 2010).
Norwegian legend Kjetil Andre Aamodt is the only man with more Olympic medals in the sport, with eight. He won his last super-G gold in 2006 when he was 34 years and 169 days old, the previous record for oldest medal winner.