Bode Miller took bronze in the men's super-G on Sunday in Sochi.
The 36-year-old American became the oldest man to ever medal in the event in doing so. The race took place in the early hours back in the United States, so those that saw Miller place were the ones up very late/really early to see it online.
After the race, after going to the podium to accept his bronze, Miller tweeted.
Thanks for all the support, today was one of the most emotional days of my life. I miss my brother.— Bode Miller (@MillerBode) February 16, 2014
It'd be a good 12 hours before the true connection to those words and the story behind them came full circle -- and with controversy. In short, Miller lost his 29-year-old brother, Chelone, last April. Chelone Miller was found dead inside of a van that Bode had bought him; the cause of death was determined to be from a seizure. Chelone suffered seizures on occasion, the after-effects of a dirt bike accident eight years prior.
Miller's not been shy about his emotional attachment to his brother and how his death has affected him, but he has not gotten too much into detail with the tragedy, either. It's been a reluctant backdrop to Miller's likely final Olympics go-round.
Following his race on Sunday, NBC opted to air its entire on-the-mountain interview with Miller, once it was determined he would indeed take the bronze in the super-G. Via Deadspin, you can watch that interview here. A hat tip to Yahoo Sports here for transcribing the interview that's bringing disparagement. The interviewer is Christin Cooper.
Cooper: Bode, such an extraordinary accomplishment, at your age, after a turbulent year, coming back from knee surgery, to get this medal today, put it in perspective. How much does this mean to you?
Miller: I mean it's incredible. I always feel like I'm capable of winning medals but as we've seen this Olympics it's not that easy. To be on the podium, this was a really big day for me. Emotionally, I had a lot riding on it. Even though I really didn't ski my best, I'm just super super happy.
Cooper: For a guy who says that medals don't really matter, that they aren't the thing, you've amassed quite a collection. What does this one mean to you in terms of all the others.
Miller: This was a little different. You know with my brother passing away, I really wanted to come back here and race the way he sensed it. This one is different.
Cooper: Bode, you're showing so much emotion down here, what's going through your mind?
Miller: Um, I mean, a lot. Obviously just a long struggle coming in here. It's just a tough year.
Cooper: I know you wanted to be here with Chelly, really experiencing these games. How much does this mean to you to come up with this great performance for him? And was it for him?
Miller: I don't know if it's really for him but I wanted to come here and, I dunno, make myself proud, but ... (trails off)
Cooper: When you're looking up in the sky at the start, we see you there and it looks like you're talking to somebody. What's going on there?
From there, Miller began to really cry and had to put his head down. Cooper backed the microphone away, while the cameras stayed with a close shot on Miller for several seconds. Then they panned out and continued to keep a look on Miller as he embraced his wife, Morgan, who soon after tweeted:
There is no one in the world who deserves this more than my husband. Thank you for all the support and believers #BRONZE— Morgan Miller (@MorganEBeck) February 16, 2014
This TV broadcast and execution of the interview has brought a lot of criticism on the way it played out.
But Miller tried to put a stop to as much of the haranguing toward Cooper as he could, taking to Twitter to defend her and explain his state of mind.
I appreciate everyone sticking up for me. Please be gentle w christin cooper, it was crazy emotional and not all her fault. #heatofthemoment— Bode Miller (@MillerBode) February 17, 2014
My emotions were very raw, she asked the questions that every interviewer would have, pushing is part of it, she wasnt trying to cause pain.— Bode Miller (@MillerBode) February 17, 2014
Miller's story is one that's bittersweet, and therefore tailor-made for Olympics TV narrative. Struggle before success is de facto to the Olympic way. Viewers got an emotional and literally up-close look at Miller in a way they'd never seen before. The guy who was once the renegade bad boy of the Olympics is now a matured man who's life was changed in the worst way last April.
Most couldn't blame Miller for breaking down. Plenty still question whether putting Miller in that position was appropriate to begin with.