WASHINGTON - February 2 - When champion skier Bode Miller confessed to taking to the slopes intoxicated, one of the first to tut-tut his disapproval was Bill Marolt, president and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding Association. "Not only is the use of alcohol irresponsible on the part of an athlete, but it is also a dangerously inappropriate message to send to participants in our sport, especially young skiers and snowboarders," said Marolt. Now Marolt's group is accused of fostering irresponsibility and sending inappropriate messages to young people because of its partnership with Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser and Bud Light—the "official malt beverage" of the ski association.
"Talk about the pot calling the kettle black," wrote George Hacker, director of the Alcohol Policies Project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in a letter to Marolt. "It is disingenuous and hypocritical of you to summon all of this fake outrage when your association is helping Anheuser-Busch promote beer to the many young people who follow and participate in USSA activities."
CSPI is calling on the USSA to terminate its relationship with Anheuser-Busch and to forgo all other alcohol sponsorships in the future.
The National Ski Areas Association, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, SAFE KIDS, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission all recommend skiers and snowboarders to avoid alcohol consumption. 5,000 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related causes each year, including unintentional injuries.
"The Ski Association already has an official pasta, an official car, an official asset management company, an official hair care provider and an official Internet services provider," said Hacker. "Does it really need an official alcoholic beverage?"