Bode Miller, the former Olympian and current NBC commentator, has apologized for comments he made about Austrian skier Anna Veith’s performance in this year’s Winter Olympics.
“The knee is certainly an issue. I want to point out she also got married,” Miller said live on air Thursday as NBC aired the first run of the women’s giant slalom. “It’s historically very challenging to race on World Cup with a family or after being married. Not to blame the spouses, but I just want to toss that out there, that it could be her husband’s fault.”
Miller — a first-time Olympics announcer — quickly drew a backlash on Twitter, with his comments being dubbed sexist and off-base. Veith suffered severe knee injuries years ago, shortly after award-winning runs in the Super-G and the giant slalom from 2014-15. She’s had a pair of top-three finishes in World Cup events in the time since her injury, and ranked with the 15th fastest time in Thursday’s first run.
It didn’t take long for Miller, a six-time medal winner, to backtrack on live TV, seemingly in realization that he’d made a mistake. “Yeah, I apologize,” he said, adding that the comment was “an ill-advised attempt” at joking. “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.”
Miller affirmed on Twitter that his comments about Veith were intended to be humorous and went on to note the difficulty of changed priorities. “To be clear I was not seriously blaming Anna Veith’s lack of results on her husband,” he explained. “It’s a changing of priorities that is historically hard, male or female.” He then added that he knows having the support of a spouse “can be a huge asset.”