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Want to Be a Better Skier? Have a Kid. Or Maybe, Don’t.

February 16th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized

Photo taken by Thomas Grollier, taken off the edge of the track in the Giant Slalom. 18 February 2006

Photo by Thomas Grollier, 18 February 2006.

The Olympics, as Christopher noted yesterday, are an excellent entertainment for those who like to almost-cry. But they’re also excellent material for those of us who like to watch journalists randomly try to explain things—things like U.S. downhill skier Bode Miller’s change of attitude.

Once a real bad boy, he’s now, um, not so bad. So says the AP:

His teammates, his agent, even his rivals, say Miller seems to be a different guy this time around.

If so, maybe it’s because Miller considered retiring six months ago. Maybe it’s because he’s now the father of a toddler. Maybe it’s because there is less attention, fewer sponsor commitments, not as much “minutiae,” as Miller called it.

And so says Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist Phil Sheridan:

Miller seems just plain mellower, maybe a bit more mature. Age will do that. So will fatherhood. He has a 1-year-old daughter now. There are still signs of the old bristly Miller, but he sounds all warm and fuzzy talking about his renewed commitment to skiing.

Now, I’m willing to buy the hoary old line that Becoming a Parent Changes Everything. But making you a better athlete? That seems unlikely, at least as far as I’ve experienced.

In the 14 months since Sasha arrived on the scene, I’ve twice completely abandoned any exercise routine, I’ve spent months mired in sleep-deprivation, I pulled a muscle in my shoulder, I’ve been hit in the face with various plastic toys, and my lower back is killing me for reasons that were mysterious until I talked to my doctor. “How much does your daughter weigh?” he asked. Oh, right.

And so I say to you, Bode Miller: Yeah, you did all right. But can you imagine how much better you’d have skied without the health and welfare of your daughter weighing on your mind and body? Dude, you only took bronze! Maybe she made you a little too mellow?

And to your hagiographers: Could you find a new father (or mother) who placed last, just for comparison?

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