We need more diversity on the slopes

Editor:

While substitute teaching grades K-12 in a Metro-Denver public school district with only 13 percent white students, often I ask, "How many of you snowboard or ski?" Hardly any hands are lifted. Sochi reflects this "accepted" U.S. socioeconomic discrimination.

We should convert some of our federally owned mountains to public parks offering affordable snow recreation for all families?

Or maybe I should stop asking students this almost embarrassing question?

Mike Sawyer, Master of Divinity

Denver, Colo.

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Bode Miller deserves more credit for strong effort in downhill

Editor:

Yesterday's headlines reported Bode Miller's results as a "disappointing 8th place finish". Admittedly, it bothered me that he was unable to medal, mostly because I always root for the old guy in any competition. However, when I watched the video replay of the race last night, the actual results got my attention.

The Sochi Downhill course is the longest in Olympic history at 2.2 miles, with over 3500 feet vertical descent, and roughly two minutes and 15 seconds duration. Here's the rub: the top eight finishers, which obviously included Miller, were only separated by .52 seconds. An eye blink is one tenth of a second. Only five blinks of an eye encompassed the eight favorites. Car racing is rarely that close for the top two finishers and their ambient conditions are relatively static.

Surface conditions on a snowy mountain will vary greatly over the several hours it takes to run a downhill competition. Even the sun going behind or coming out from a cloud for one competitor to another will affect their individual runs. That is, the snow softens or hardens or the light gets flat or highlights contrasting terrain. Sunlight doesn't begin to address the other factors like temperature change, wind, relative humidity, and the other great unknown that viewers never witness, grooming. In between each run, volunteers get out on the course and sidestep (pat down) the course, especially in the turns. Any one of these variables can affect the outcome of a race when the difference between the winner and eighth place is half a second.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to make an excuse for Bode Miller. However, considering the venue and how little difference there is between winner and loser, I feel the media needs to reexamine its choice of words when describing any Olympian.

Paul "PJ" Falten

Park City