Bode's bumpy trail
Split from U.S. team, deadly incident strangely bound
Posted: Tuesday May 15, 2007 4:53PM; Updated: Tuesday May 15, 2007 6:09PM
The first news of last weekend was not shocking at all. After a meeting with officials of the U.S. ski team in Park City, Utah, Bode Miller had elected to separate from the team with the intention of competing independently on the World Cup Circuit. Team officials had offered Miller his customary position on the alpine team, befitting for one of the most accomplished racers in the history of the sport.
The team also told Miller that he would be expected to comply with a set of rules relating to personal and professional and behavior. (Miller, through his agent, Lowell Taub, implied that these would essentially be "Bode Rules;" the team says they would simply be enforcing rules in place for everyone).
No matter. Anyone who has paid the slightest attention to Miller's relationship with the U.S. Ski Team has seen this coming for years. It's remarkable that Miller and the team have found common ground for as long they have. The relationship was going to end badly, and now it has. Miller has the money and probably enough passion left in the tank to race for another year or two and win the three World Cup races he needs to take down Phil Mahre's U.S. record of 27 victories, cementing his place as the most accomplished American ski racer in history.
A second piece of news broke only hours later. Two men had died on the two-lane New Hampshire highway that slices through the middle of the notch where Miller was raised in Franconia, N.H. One of them was Miller's cousin, Liko Kenney, 24. Officials said Kenney had shot and killed Franconia police officer Bruce McKay after a traffic stop and then ran over McKay with his car. Kenney, officials said, was then shot and killed by a passerby who witnessed the first incident, took the dead officer's gun and shot Kenney when he refused to drop his weapon.
I can only imagine people reading these two stories, oddly bound together by the name of a countercultural sports anti-hero (or just a jerk, depending on your viewpoint), and trying to discern the depth of the coincidence. I didn't wonder for a moment. I saw the two stories -- Miller's departure and Liko Kenney's death -- as inextricably bound together.
You couldn't know this from watching the 2006 Olympics at home and hearing the stories of Miller's ceaseless partying and medal-free skiing. You couldn't know this just from hearing that Miller was raised by hippies on a hillside. (A hillside that overlooks the highway where Liko Kenney died.)
To understand the connection, you had to live a little piece of Miller's life.
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