Miller's hiatus could bode well for ski team

Compiled from staff and wire reports
Published January 29, 2006

Bode Miller's streak is over - and that may be a good thing for the bad boy of the U.S. team.

After competing in 136 straight World Cup races, dating to March 2002, Miller skipped Saturday's World Cup downhill and will miss today's super-G.

The reason: He is spending some time with younger brother Chelone, who suffered serious head injuries in a motorcycle crash three months ago in New Hampshire.

"It might be a good way for him to ground himself a bit," U.S. speed coach John McBride told the Associated Press. "I think it's great he's with his brother. Not only getting away from the sports but putting everything in perspective.

"He and his brother are very close. He hasn't spent time with his family in a while. I think any time you can get with your family and friends, people that are close to you, it's good. I think he's often surrounded by lots of people who aren't that meaningful to him in a deep sense.

"Of course he supports his fans but he's constantly around people he doesn't know well. To be able to get away and not have people pestering him, spend some quality time with his brother, is good."

Miller is ranked fourth in the World Cup standings but has been slumping lately after winning the 2005 overall championship. He made headlines Thursday in a Rolling Stone interview, suggesting that baseball's Barry Bonds and cycling's Lance Armstrong took performance-enhancing drugs. That followed intense criticism for saying on 60 Minutes that he has competed while under the influence of alcohol.

Miller travels to World Cup events in an RV driven by childhood friend Jake Serino. And on nbcolympics.com, a regular blog about Miller by Serino - dubbed Bode by Jake - there was this:

"Where is he going? I can't tell you, but I can tell you he's in good humor and relaxed lately."

PIKUS-PACE LOSES AGAIN: The U.S. skeleton team was turned down in its appeal to be awarded a second women's team spot, leaving one-time gold-medal favorite Noelle Pikus-Pace out in the cold.

She had staged an amazing comeback after being struck in October by a bobsled, breaking her leg. Because of her injury, the United States finished fourth in the World Cup standings and only qualified one rider, Katie Uhlaender. If the team had finished third, it would have earned a second spot, allowing Pikus-Pace to compete. The sport's federation considered the appeal but ultimately was not swayed.

"I think Noelle Pikus-Pace is one of the finest athletes I've met anywhere in the world," said David Kurtz, one of the federation's officials. "She's as deserving of being in this Olympics as anyone. But it was clear from the executive committee's review of the entire situation that there was nothing (the federation) could do."

MISCELLANY: There was one unusual sidelight from Michelle Kwan's skate Friday in front of a monitoring committee. The Associated Press was offered a spot in a reporting pool to observe Kwan's performance but passed due to restrictions required by U.S. Figure Skating. The association stipulated that pool reporters would not be allowed to report on anything they saw at the session until a decision was made on whether Kwan would be added to the Olympic team. And no columns about her performance could be written for 24 hours. ... The lack of snow in Turin had begun to concern the International Ski Association, which wondered if there would be enough to cover the Olympic courses. But worries are over: 12-16 inches is expected this weekend. ... Brazil has made the bobsled cut, earning the distinction as the only tropically based bobsled team competing in Turin.

Compiled by Times staff writer Dave Scheiber, using information from Times wires.