One of the things I like about the Olympics is the grit people show in the face of trouble, the people who face seeming disaster and go on to finish their competition, even win medals. But there's another half to that lesson, which is to show that overconfidence and poor preparation can bite you. Which brings me to Bode Miller, and to Sunday night's Olympics telecast.
I have already noted several times that Miller was a marquee name for NBC going into these Olympics, and that the network seemed determined to mention him whenever possible. (One of my favorites: Brian Williams tying Miller to the Chilean team during the opening ceremonies.) The departure of Michelle Kwan, another big name, looked as if it would make Miller even more important to the network. And not just to NBC: Just before the prime-time presentation of the men's downhill Sunday night, two different companies had commercials showcasing Miller.
So the coverage was more than slightly interesting when it was suggested that Miller had not prepared fully for the event. Reporter Steve Porino described Miller's using ''factory fresh'' skis that were virtually untested, and that Miller did not inspect the course before the competition. ''He ... just rolled out of his RV,'' Porino said.
Analyst Todd Brooker argued ''that's just Bode being Bode.'' He later called Miller ''so calculating and so smart.'' And when play-by-play man Tim Ryan mentioned a report that Miller had been out late the night before, Brooker again said, ''That's just Bode being Bode. ... Gimme a break. He knows how to prepare for a race.''
Except, in this case, he didn't. After his run, he was fourth, out of medal contention. (The final standings had him fifth.) The U.S. team, Porino reported, went into a scramble to decide which skis Darron Rahlves should use -- since the new skis hadn't worked very well for Miller -- but he still finished out of medal contention.
I would have liked to have heard immediate commentary, especially from Brooker, that maybe ''Bode being Bode'' wasn't paying off. That maybe all the attention and sponsorships and attendant confidence were not helping his performance. That especially on the Olympic level, you can't leave anything to chance if you really want to win. But I didn't hear that. After all, Miller was going to compete in other events, and NBC was still hoping that he would be a big star in the games. Only today -- AND HERE'S THE POSSIBLE SPOILER -- he hasn't done well either.