Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fan Club Wars

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
Businesses have been using various incentives to get people to patronize their establishments. Banks used to offer toasters to entice customers to open accounts. Southern California gas stations would have "gas wars," which were a combination of lower prices and free gifts to people who filled up there. Stores use lower prices and restaurants offer free meals to attract customers. Now Facebook fan clubs of skiers are getting into the act of trying to entice fans to like their pages. Our intrepid reporters have found three people who have started their own fan pages on Facebook who were willing to be interviewed about how they are attracting ski fans to those pages. They asked that we change their names to protect their identities. "Larry," "Moe," and "Curly" have each started their own Lindsey Vonn fan page on Facebook. Let's hear what they have to say.
BB: There is already a Lindsey Vonn fan page on Facebook with a very large following. Why do we need three more?
Larry: Lindsey can never have too many fan pages. She is very successful. One measure of success for an athlete is the number of fan pages that she has on Facebook.
Moe: Another measure of success is the number of likes that the different fan sites get.
BB: What makes your fan pages different than the main one?
Curly: I have friends who are photographers at World Cup races who supply me with photos that nobody else has.
BB: You sound a lot like the Blickbild. We print the stories that nobody else dares to.
Curly: I never saw myself that way before. My photographer friends are very intrepid, but of course not as intrepid as your reporters or researchers.
BB: Of course not. Larry and Moe, what makes your pages unique?
Larry: One of my friends is a friend of Lindsey's sister Karen. I get a lot of exclusive quotes.
Moe: I have a friend who is part of Lindsey's physical therapy team. I get both exclusive quotes and photos.
BB: Lindsey's large fan page also has interviews, photos, and quotes. Why don't you merge your pages into the main one?
Larry: Because if Lindsey only had one fan page, that would show that she is not very popular with the fans.
BB: Even if that fan page had more likes than fan pages for any other ski racer?
Larry: That is correct. Most skiers have a fan page. But Lindsey needs more to stand out from the rest and to prove that she really is better than everyone else. Having more fan pages than the others on the World Cup is a surefire way of showing that she is the greatest.
BB: What are you doing to get fans to look at your pages and like them?
Moe: We are going to various Facebook pages and groups of Alpine skiing fans and asking them to like our new Lindsey Vonn fan pages. They would be the people most likely to like our pages.
Larry: I have also put out the word with my Facebook friends and asked them to tell their friends about my page.
BB: Do the people you are reaching out to actually have to like Lindsey, or is it sufficient for them just to like your pages?
Curly: That's a good question. Of course we want fans to like our pages. It would be even better if they were also fans of Lindsey. But we will take likes from anybody.
Moe: It's all about the number of likes. It would be okay with me if someone who didn't necessarily like Lindsey liked my page.
BB: I see. How many likes do you have so far?
Larry: I have 37, but I just started the page yesterday.
Moe: I already have 82 in just two days. That number is increasing as we speak.
Curly: I have over 100. I was also the first one to post a link on a well-known Facebook Alpine skiing group. You two are copycats. So there!
BB: What else are you doing to entice fans to like your pages?
Larry: Anyone who likes my page will receive a free autograph card of Lindsey.
Moe: People who like my page will receive an autograph card and an "I Heart Lindsey" button.
Curly: Those who like my page receive an autograph card, a button, and an official Lindsey Vonn pen.
BB: So I would get those things just for hitting the "like" button on your new fan pages?
Curly: That's correct.
BB: Do you think that you could possibly get more likes than the main Lindsey Vonn fan page?
Larry: Of course we can. People who like the main fan page don't get any cool Lindsey Vonn merchandise.
BB: Let's say that the number of likes on your pages hits a plateau. What will you do to get more fans to like your pages?
Moe: I would give away even more merchandise.
BB: Like what?
Larry: Fans like t-shirts. I can print up t-shirts with Lindsey's photo on them. They will become especially valuable when Lindsey breaks Annemarie Moser-Proell's record for wins this coming season.
Moe:  I happen to have a large supply of Ski Racer Barbie dolls, which come dressed in a replica of the speed suit that Lindsey wore in the 2010 Olympics when she won the gold medal in the downhill race. She even has a gold medal around her neck.
Curly: All of the people who like my page automatically go into a drawing to win the socks that Lindsey wore when she won her Olympic gold medal.
BB: All of those things sound very tempting. As a fan it would be very hard to choose which of your sites to like.
Larry: I can help you. If you like my site, I will also give you 50 euros to take yourself and a date out for dinner and a cow.
BB: I'm sorry, but I can't accept your offer. That would be considered taking a bribe and I would lose my journalistic integrity.
Larry: I would never try to bribe a reporter, especially one of the Blickbild's intrepid reporters. I meant I would give the money and cow to a ski fan who is not a journalist.
Moe: Oh yeah! Well I'll give fans 100 euros and 2 cows.
Curly: I'll give anyone who likes my page 200 euros and 5 cows!
BB: What if someone who likes your page lives in a city and has no place to keep cows? Where are you getting all of these cows anyway?
Moe: You have a good point about the cows. Forget the cows. Fans who like my page will be automatically put into a drawing to win one of Lindsey's speed used suits.
Curly: Who wants a stinky speed suit that probably hasn't been washed? I will give fans who like my page exclusive photos of Lindsey and Tiger doing unmentionable things with each other.
Larry: Anyone who likes my fan page will receive a Sacher Torte for his or her birthday for life. It will be a real one from the Hotel Sacher in Vienna and not a replica. In addition, those lucky fans will also receive a lifetime suppy of free ice cream from the ice cream shop on the Schwedenplatz in Vienna.
Moe: Larry, that's unfair! I was going to offer people who like my page the chance to be automatically entered in a drawing for a two-week, all expenses paid, trip to the beaches of Croatia. But the Sacher Torte and ice cream beats that  hands down.
Curly: And my next offer was going to be free tickets to all of the women's World Cup ski races, including the finals, to anyone who likes my page. But nobody can resist Sacher Torte and Schwedenplatz ice cream.
BB: Good luck to all three of you getting Lindsey's fans, and even some of her non-fans, to like your pages. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We interview anyone, even stooges.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine skiing, please like us on Facebook.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Larisa Yurkiw Dumped by Alpine Canada

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
The Canadian press has reported that Alpine Canada has dropped Larisa Yurkiw from its downhill ski team. Yurkiw came back to World Cup skiing after missing two seasons because of an injury. She is a real inspiration to athletes with severe injuries because she showed that she could come back to world class level. In fact, Canada has dropped its women's downhill program. We at the Blickbild admire Larisa for her intrepid spirit and hope that she can find a team to train with. In the meantime, one of our intrepid reporters caught up with Alpine Canada's Max Gartner. Let's hear what he has to say.

BB: Please tell our readers why you decided to discontinue the Canadian women's downhill program.
Gartner: None of the ladies on our ski team have a chance to win a downhill medal at the Olympics. In Canada hockey and curling are our top sports. Very few people care about skiing in Canada.
BB: Don't you think that having athletes competing in all of the skiing events will help to publicize the sport more in your country?
Gartner: It hasn't happened yet. It would really help if one of the female skiers would get involved with a famous athlete in another sport.
BB: Like Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods?
Gartner: Exactly! The other alternative would be for one of our female skiers to have a relationship with a famous actor.
BB: I see.  But assuming that the female skiers prefer their current partners, don't you think that they deserve a shot at competing in the Olympics?
Gartner: No. Only those who have a realistic chance of winning a medal should go to the Olympics.
BB: Let me see if I have this straight...You say that only those athletes who have a good chance of winning a medal should go to the Olympics?
Gartner: That's correct.
BB: Have you not read the Olympic Creed lately? It says, "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."
Gartner:  Alpine Canada doesn't have the money to send every athlete to the Olympics. We have to draw the line somewhere. Otherwise any skier with a dream of going to the Olympics will think that she can automatically go.
BB: What would you say to countries like Albania, Lebanon, Romania, Portugal, Israel, Mexico, and Argentina who send athletes to the Olympics? Those skiers also have no chance of winning a medal, yet their countries send them.
Gartner: They are crazy and are doing it just to get the publicity.
BB: Maybe so, but their federations are living up to the Olympic Creed more than Alpine Canada.
Gartner: Our money is limited. We can fund only the most promising skiers. Right now Larisa is not good enough for our standards.
BB: Even though she is the Canadian national downhill champion?
Gartner: Right. But she didn't do well in the World Cup last season.
BB: She came back from a two-year injury layoff and was obviously good enough to compete at the World Cup level.
Gartner: But she is not good enough to win an Olympic downhill medal.
BB: According to your logic, the only skiers who should compete in the Olympic downhill event are those who have a realistic chance of winning a medal. It would be a very small field with only Lindsey Vonn, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Tina Maze, Daniela Merighetti, Marion Rolland, Tina Weirather, Julia Mancuso, and Elisabeth Goergl in the competition.
Gartner: Uh--
BB: Okay, let's look at this another way. You are promoting your technical skiers: Marie-Michele Gagnon, Erin Mielzynski, and Brittany Phelan. What are their chances of winning any Olympic medals?
Gartner: Our women's technical team actually has a chance to win some Olympic medals.
BB: Let's put your logic to the test once more. Between those three ladies they have 148 World Cup starts and 3 podium finishes. They have been on the podium two percent of the time. If you want to look at it the opposite way, they have a 98% chance of not winning a medal. It looks to me like two percent is your threshold for deciding if someone gets support from Alpine Canada.
Gartner: Two percent is still greater than zero. Larisa does not have any World Cup podium finishes. We need to concentrate our funds on the next generation of skiers and hope that they can win some medals and bring glory to our program.
BB: Young racers need role models to emulate. If you discontinue your downhill program, who will be the role models for young skiers?
Gartner: They can watch World Cup races on TV and use the stars as their role models. One TV for our junior skiers costs a lot less than having to provide them with training, equipment, and funding.
BB: You said before that Larisa is not good enough to be an Olympic level skier. If you discontinue your downhill program and take away her funding, how can she improve to meet your standards?
Gartner: That's an unfair question!
BB: I thought it was a straightforward one. Anyway, Marie-Michele Gagnon and Marie-Pier Prefontaine have also started to compete in speed events. If there is no more funding for the Canadian women's downhill program, how will Marie-Michele and Marie-Pier improve? Marie-Michele just scored her first World Cup speed points in the Garmisch Super-G race. How can you deny those two women their chance to become all-around skiers and not just technical specialists?
Gartner: Isn't there something called journalistic ethics? You seem to be missing them and are trying to make me look like the bad guy in this situation.
BB: Actually you're doing a good job of that all by yourself and also of making Alpine Canada look bad. Using your logic, Switzerland should dismantle its men's ski team because the Swiss men only had one podium finish last season and their big stars often finished out of the points. The Swiss men should not be allowed to compete in the Olympics because of their poor performances last season.
Gartner: That's an unfair comparison.! The Swiss men get a lot more funding than the Canadian women. Their men also have a long history of winning Olympic medals.
BB: Maybe it has something to do with Switzerland funding its skiers and helping them to achieve their potential.
Gartner: I've had enough! This interview is over! (he gets up and walks out)
BB: Anyone who would like to help Larisa with funding can contact her at larisaracing@gmail.com.  And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We support the underdogs.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine skiing, please like us on Facebook.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sarka Zahrobska Gets Married, Changes Name to Strachova

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

 From now on Czech slalom specialist Sarka Zahrobska will be Sarka Strachova. She was married last weekend and decided to change her name completely instead of hyphenating it. Austrian skier Regina Sterz totally baffled fans, commentators, her teammates, and even her trainers when she changed her name from Mader to Sterz (see this story about Sterz). Now it looks like the World Cup will be even more confusing for everyone. The others have already reported this story. But, as usual, the Blickbild has its unique perspective on Sarka's marriage. One of our intrepid reporters caught up with Sarka Strachova for this interview. Let's find out what she has to say.

BB: Congratulations on your marriage. We at the Blickbild wish you a long and happy marriage.
Strachova: Thank you.
BB: Why did you decide to take just your husband's name and not hyphenate your name like many of the other women on the World Cup?
Strachova: Sometimes the TV commentators and announcers at World Cup races speak rather quickly. Try saying Sarka Strachova-Zahrobska five times fast and see what happens.
BB: Sarka Strachova-Zahrobska, Sarka Strachochva-Zahroba, Sadda Strateh---
Strachova:  Exactly! I can easily imagine the Eurosport commentators, especially the British ones, stumbling over my name if they hyphenated it.
BB: So you are not using Austrian skier Regina Sterz as your role model?
Strachova: Well, I do admire Regina and the rest of the Austrian team. She is a great skier. But no, she is not my model for changing my name.
BB: And your intention was not to confuse the fans?
Strachova: No. I saw what happened with Regina last season. It just shows what happens when people in the press don't do their homework.
BB: But in Regina's case she didn't inform the press that she changed her name. It wasn't the fault of the press, it was hers. Even our intrepid researchers got fooled by Regina.
Strachova: I figured if I went to the press now, there would be enough stories that by the time the World Cup season starts, people will get used to my new name. Fans, commentators, and even your intrepid reporters will have about six months to realize who I am. Nobody should be confused.
BB: Do you think that the International Skiing Federation (FIS) will require women to hyphenate their names when they get married in order to avoid confusion?
Strachova: I don't think that they will pass any new regulations about women changing their names for next season because there will be so many other new rules. (see this story.) Even if the FIS passed a rule about hyphenating names, Regina and I would probably be grandfathered in. But you never know with the FIS.
BB:  Do you feel that you and Regina Sterz are trend setters and other women in the World Cup will stop hyphenating their names?
Strachova: It's nice to be someone who's a trend setter, but I don't think that will happen. Lindsey Kildow changed her name to Vonn and nobody cared or was baffled. Of course in America people don't care about skiing. Americans care more about Lindsey's relationship with Tiger Woods than about her skiing.
BB: Speaking of Lindsey Vonn...Are you worried that the United States will bomb your country?
Strachova: No.  I read that Sarah Palin wants to bomb my country in retaliation for the Boston Marathon bombings because she confused it with Chechnya (see this story from the Daily Currant ).What does that have to do with Lindsey Vonn?
BB: Have you heard that Lindsey Vonn plans to sue Slovenia because of Tina Maze's performances and records last season?
Strachova: Yes. It is all over the sports press in the Czech Republic. We all think it is a big joke. Do you  think that it will really happen or will it be thrown out?
BB: Our intrepid research staff just found out that the lawsuit will go through. However, there is a big backlog in the courts in Vail, so it will be a long time before the case actually comes to trial.
Strachova: But why would the USA bomb the Czech Republic? Even if Lindsey Vonn won her lawsuit, we have nothing to do with Slovenia. Anyway we are no threat to the USA because the Czech Republic is a country with a very small ski team.
BB: Lindsey Vonn's father, who is also her lawyer, thought that Slovakia was Slovenia when shown a map of Europe and asked to locate Slovenia. Slovakia is next door to the Czech Republic.
Strachova: Oh dear! Didn't he learn geography in school?
BB: Evidently not. Are people in the Czech Republic preparing for war in case it mistakenly gets invaded or bombed because someone couldn't find either Slovenia or Slovakia?
Strachova: Uh...no. I would hope that if US soldiers want to invade or bomb Slovenia, they will look on a map first and then go to the correct country.
BB: Onto another subject. The scoring system in Alpine skiing will change next season. The fastest racer may not necessarily be the winner. (see this story ) Over the summer will you work on your form and making sure that your speed suit, helmet, and boots don't clash?
Strachova: Yes. Even my skis, gloves, and poles will be perfectly color-coordinated. I may not be the fastest skier, but at least I will earn all of my appearance points. In addition, I will be working on having perfect form in my races.
BB: Sarka, I want to congratulate you again on your marriage and wish you success next season. It was a real delight talking with you today.
Strachova: Thank you. I made a complete recovery from brain surgery last year. After that I knew that I could survive anything, even an interview by one of your intrepid reporters.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We look on maps before invading other countries.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine skiing, please like us on Facebook.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Germany vs Sweden Prosecution Witnesses Part 2

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The Swedish Ski team kidnapped the German Ski Team's witch doctor during the World Championships in February. Or did they? Today's witness for the prosecution is Hermann Mayer, the Schladming police chief. As in our previous report, the names of the Mongolian lawyers will not be used due to them being too difficult to spell and pronounce. The prosecutor will be referred to as "Germany" and the defense attorney as "Sweden." We are again printing the court transcript instead of using our normal interview format.

Germany: Please state your name and occupation for the record.
Mayer: Hermann Mayer, Schladming, Austria police chief.
Germany: Aren't you really Hermann Maier the famous skier?
Mayer: No. People mix us up all the time. My last name is spelled M-A-Y-E-R and the skier spells his surname M-A-I-E-R. But he did give me some of his autograph cards to hand out to everyone.
Germany: Tell the court when you first heard about Dr. Mabongo being kidnapped.
Sweden: Objection! The prosecutor is assuming facts not in evidence.
Judge: Sustained.
Germany: When did you first find out that Dr. Mabongo was missing?
Mayer: It was on Sunday the 10th of February after the women's downhill race.
Germany: How did you find out that Dr. Mabongo was missing?
Mayer: Herr Schwaiger came into the police station and told me that Dr. Mabongo was missing. He also gave me the ransom note.
Sweden: Objection! We don't know that it was really a ransom note.
Judge: Sustained. Herr Mayer, please answer the questions directly and don't provide extra information unless you are asked for it.
Mayer: Herr Schwaiger gave me the note that he found on Dr. Mabongo's door.
Germany: What did you do after Mr. Schwaiger gave you the note?
Mayer: I had him fill out a standard police report. Since Dr. Mabongo had been missing for over 24 hours, I also contacted Interpol and the Austrian bloodhound squad.
Germany: You felt that this was a kidnapping?
Mayer: Yes.
Germany: How much experience do you have as a policeman?
Mayer: Thirty-two years. I have been the Schladming police chief for ten years.
Germany: So you have a lot of experience solving crimes. (slight pause) You were the one who found Dr. Mabongo. Tell the court the circumstances under which you found him.
Mayer:  I was working at the World Championships providing security for the skiers going up the lift during the team competition along with my police dog Fido. When Andre Myhrer and Matthias Hargin passed by, Fido started barking and growling,  then he suddenly bit Herr Hargin in the stomach. He tore a hole in Herr Hargin's speed suit and I saw something black inside it. A few seconds later Dr. Mabongo popped out of the hole in the speed suit.
Germany: What did Dr. Mabongo say or do when he came out of Mr. Hargin's speed suit?
Mayer: He asked to be taken back to the German team because the skiers needed him.
Germany: How soon was Dr. Mabongo returned to Germany?
Mayer: I returned him immediately after I found him.
Germany: That is all I have for this witness. 
Judge: There will be a two-hour recess before the defense questions Mr. Mayer.
(two hours later)
Judge: Mr. Mayer, remember that you are under oath. Sweden, your witness.
Sweden: You said that you have over 30 years of police experience. Did you spend all of your years on the Austrian Gendarmarie in Schladming?
Mayer: Almost. I did spend two years in Lermoos.
Sweden: All of your police experience has been in small towns. Did you ever have a real kidnapping case?
Mayer: No.
Sweden: In fact, the last big crime in Schladming was back in the mid-80s, when someone stole a little girl's mittens. How can you be sure that Dr. Mabongo was kidnapped?
Mayer: I have to take courses to stay current on police procedure. I learned about how to tell if someone has been kidnapped or is simply missing.
Sweden: So your only experience with a real kidnapping was in class?
Mayer: That is correct.
Sweden: The note that Mr. Schwaiger gave you was in German. In fact, your initial suspects were Austrian and Switzerland. Isn't that true?
Mayer: Yes, that is correct.
Sweden: Why were Austria and Germany the main suspects?
Mayer: The ransom note was in perfect German. Also, both of those teams had better-than-expected performances in the men's downhill and super-combined races.
Sweden: You said that Dr. Mabongo asked to go back to the German team after you found him. Did he say anything about being kidnapped by the Swedish?
Mayer: No. He just asked me to take him back to the Germans.
Sweden: Could he have simply run away from the Germans to the Swedish but then decided he wanted to go back to the Germans?
Mayer: That's possible, but it doesn't explain the ransom note.
Sweden: Isn't it possible that the ransom note was written to point the police in the wrong direction?
Mayer: It is possible because Sweden was not on our initial list of suspects.
Sweden: How did you know that it was really Matthias Hargin who had Dr. Mabongo under his speed suit?
Mayer: I recognize all of the World Cup skiers because I'm Austrian. All Austrians know the World Cup skiers because ski racing is the only thing on television.
Sweden: But it could have been someone who looked like Mr. Hargin in a replica Swedish speed suit.
Mayer: That is highly unlikely. I was standing close enough to both him and Herr Myhrer to inspect their credentials before letting them onto the lift.
Sweden: How did you know that the person you believed to be Mr. Hargin had a real athlete identification card and not a forged one?
Mayer: He was standing with Andre Myhrer and they were speaking to each other. I checked Herr Myhrer's card first and it looked real. I would think that Herr Myhrer would recognize his teammate. The odds are very slim that two people who look exactly like Andre Myhrer and Matthias Hargin would wear Swedish speed suits, have fake athlete ID cards, and compete in the team event.
Sweden: Just because the odds are very low doesn't mean that something is impossible. That is all I have for this witness, Your Honor.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive story.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All the stories that nobody else dares to print despite the odds.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine skiing, please like us on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Germany vs Sweden: Prosecution Witnesses Part 1

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

First of all, we at the Boston Blickbild send our condolences to the families of those who were killed in the Boston Marathon bombings. We also wish a full and speedy recovery to those who were injured. The Germany versus Sweden witch doctor kidnapping trial in Ulan Bator, Mongolia has begun and both sides have presented their opening statements. It is now time for the prosecution to call its witnesses. The first witness is German technical team trainer Christian Schwaiger. Instead of our usual interview format, we will print a transcript of Schwaiger's testimony. Also, because Mongolian names are extremely difficult for Westerners to pronounce, we will refer to the prosecutor as "Germany" and the defense attorney as "Sweden."

Germany: Please state your name and occupation for the record.
Schwaiger: Christian Schwaiger, German women's Alpine skiing national technical team trainer.
Germany: Tell the court why your ski team has a witch doctor
Schwaiger: Two of our skiers, Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Lena Duerr, had inconsistent performances last season. We tried psychologists, other therapists, and even an exorcist. But nothing worked. We decided to try a witch doctor as a last resort.
Germany: Isn't it unusual for a ski team to have a witch doctor?
Schwaiger: Yes. But other teams have followed our lead and also have witch doctors. I know that France and Italy also have team witch doctors.
Germany: When did you first notice that Dr. Mabongo was missing?
Schwaiger: It was the morning of Saturday 9 February. I went downstairs to the breakfast room and Dr. Mabongo was not there.
Germany: Couldn't he have been in his room at that time?
Schwaiger: No. Dr. Mabongo was usually the first person in the breakfast room. Every day prior to that Saturday, he was already eating breakfast when I would arrive.
Germany: What did you do when you saw that Dr. Mabongo was not in the breakfast room?
Schwaiger: I went to his room to see if he was still there. When I got to his room, I saw a note on his door.
Germany: Did you take the note or leave it on the door?
Schwaiger: I took the note and read it, thinking it might be something that Dr. Mabongo left for me or the other trainers.
Germany: What did the note say?
Schwaiger: It was a ransom note.
Sweden: Objection! Witness is speculating!
Judge: Sustained.
Germany: Mr. Schwaiger, simply tell the court what the note said.
Schwaiger: It said, "Ha ha ha! We have your witch doctor. If you want to see him again, you must give us the following: one million euros in small bills, 1000 Milka chocolate bars in various flavors, and 50 purple Milka cows." In addition the note said that we should arrange for Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Lena Duerr to have DNFs in their remaining races at the World Championships.
Germany: Here is a copy of the note, Your Honor. (hands the judge a piece of paper). Mr. Schwaiger, please tell the court what DNF means.
Schwaiger: Did Not Finish. In other words, we had to tell Maria and Lena to fall or ski out before the finish line in their races.
Germany: After you read the note, what did you do with it?
Schwaiger: I held onto it for a short time, made a copy of it, then turned it over to the police.
Germany: You decided it was best for the police to find the kidnapper?
Sweden: Objection! There is no evidence that the witch doctor was kidnapped!
Germany: I'll rephrase the question. Tell the court why you gave the note to the police.
Schwaiger: Dr. Mabongo was missing and there was a note saying that someone had him. I felt that the police were the best ones to figure out who wrote the note.
Germany: That is all from this witness Your Honor.
Judge: We will take a 1 hour recess and then the defense will question Mr. Schwaiger.
(one hour later)
Judge: Mr. Schwaiger, I want to remind you that you are still under oath. Cross-examination can proceed.
Sweden: Mr. Schwaiger, you said that you noticed that Dr. Mabongo was missing on Saturday morning.
Schwaiger: That is correct.
Sweden: Yet you waited until the next afternoon to go to the police. Tell the court why.
Schwaiger: Maria Hoefl-Riesch had become dependent on Dr. Mabongo and his therapy. She had just won a gold medal in the women's combined event and was scheduled to ski in the downhill race on Sunday. I did not want to upset her, or the rest of the team, with the news about Dr. Mabongo's disappearance. I waited until Maria won a bronze medal in the downhill race to break the news to the team.
Sweden: Isn't the real reason you waited over a day to report Dr. Mabongo's disappearance is because you knew he ran away because he was being abused by the team?
Germany: Objection!
Judge: Sustained.
Sweden: When Dr. Mabongo was discovered, he had unusual cuts and scars on his back and legs. Can you explain how they got there?
Schwaiger: No. I imagine they were from his voodoo or tribal rituals.
Sweden: I will take that answer as no. Mr. Schwaiger, in what language was the note that you found on Dr. Mabongo's door written?
Schwaiger: German.
Sweden: Was it written the way a native German speaker would write, or the way someone who learned German as a foreign language would write?
Schwaiger: It was written how a native German speaker would write.
Sweden: I see. And what is the national language of Sweden?
Schwaiger: Swedish. But a lot of Swedish people learn German in school.
Sweden: You just said that the national language of Sweden is Swedish. (slight pause)  Did the German Ski Federation refuse to provide Dr. Mabongo with warm clothing?
Schwaiger: No! It was his choice to wear only a loincloth and go barefoot.
Sweden: It is considered neglect not to provide someone in your care with warm clothing in the winter. 
Schwaiger: Dr. Mabongo was never neglected. We gave him everything that he wanted or needed.
Sweden: Oh really? Did you provide him with the same foods that he ate in the Congo?
Schwaiger: No, but---
Sweden: So you didn't provide him with his normal diet or warm clothing. That sounds like abuse or neglect to me. It sounds like the good doctor had valid reasons to run away. That is all the questions I have for this witness, Your Honor.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive report.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We don't have a motto today.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Germany-Sweden Witch Doctor Trial Begins

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Even though the racing season has ended, there is still plenty of action off the slopes. There has still not been a decision as to whether Lindsey Vonn's suit against the country of Slovenia will go to trial. We will keep our readers informed when a decision is made. However, the trial of Germany versus Sweden has started in the Mongolian capital city of Ulan Bator.  As our regular readers know, Sweden kidnapped Dr. Mabongo, the German team's witch doctor, during the World Championships in Schladming last February. For those who need their memories refreshed, please read this story and then this one. Here to talk with the Blickbild are German Ski Association (DSV) Alpine women's head trainer Thomas Stauffer and Swedish Ski Association (SSA) press officer Camilla Sandy.

BB: Why is this trial being held in Mongolia and not in Europe?
Stauffer: Normally this trial would be held in Austria, since that is where the crime took place.
Sandy: We don't really know that a crime was committed. Your side has to prove it. That is why we're having a trial. Since Germany borders Austria, we did not feel that it was possible to get an impartial jury if the trial were held in Austria.
Stauffer: We didn't want the trial moved to Sweden or the other Scandinavian countries for the same reason. A lot of countries came forward to host the trial. After deliberations by both our legal team and the Swedish one, Mongolia was chosen as a neutral site. The main reason for choosing Mongolia was that there are no Mongolians competing in the World Cup, so jury bias is eliminated.
BB: So the jurors will be Mongolian?
Sandy: That is correct.
BB: And the judge too?
Sandy: Right.
BB: That brings up the question of how the judge and jury will understand the testimony. Most Mongolians don't speak German or Swedish. There aren't too many German-Mongolian or Swedish-Mongolian interpreters.
Stauffer: The trial will be held in English with interpreters who speak both English and Mongolian.
BB: I see. Are both of your ski federations bringing in their own lawyers?
Sandy: Under Mongolian law, only Mongolian lawyers are allowed to work in the courts.
We are also not allowed to represent ourselves. But each of our federations has a legal team who is providing information to our respective Mongolian lawyers.
BB: Aren't you worried about crucial information being lost because of poor translating?
Stauffer: The court assured us that both of our legal teams are being provided with excellent interpreters.
BB: I saw the witness lists for both sides and noticed some who don't speak English, most notably Dr. Mabongo. He was the victim in this case.
Sandy: Excuse me, but nobody has proven that he was a kidnapping victim. You are assuming that we are guilty before we even go to trial.
Stauffer: Your team kidnapped Dr. Mabongo and you know it! Just confess now and we won't have the need for this trial.
Sandy: We did nothing wrong. And even if we did, you have to prove it.
BB: Let's save the arguments over whether a crime was committed or not for the courtroom.
Stauffer: Back to the subject of interpreters...Dr. Mabongo will be using the interpreter that the Blickbild provided when its intrepid reporters went to the Congo to find him. (see this story ). That interpreter speaks 12 languages fluently including German, English, Swedish, Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, Dr. Mabongo's Congolese dialect, and Mongolian.
BB: Has the jury already been selected?
Sandy: Yes. In this case there will be nine jurors. They also don't have to come to a unanimous decision. A majority decision is all that's required, though I have heard that the jurors are encouraged to come to the same decision to reach a verdict.
BB: What is the jury composition?
Sandy: It is all male. From the information that I was given, they are yak herders, factory workers, and one is a captain in the Mongolian army. The army captain is the jury leader.
BB: In Western countries jury members are told not to read or watch news reports about the case that they are on. Are the jurors in this case required to follow the same procedure?
Stauffer: Since there are no Mongolian World Cup skiers, the odds of this trial being in the newspaper or on TV are very slim.
Sandy: I have to disagree. I bet that there is a lot of publicity because of its unusual nature. It's not a normal theft or murder trial.
Stauffer: It most certainly is a theft trial! You stole our witch doctor!
Sandy: You have no proof that we stole your witch doctor. Sweden is innocent and this trial will prove it.
BB: Will the judge be telling the legal teams to follow Austrian or Mongolian law? Kidnapping for ransom is a serious crime in Austria. I'm sure it also is in Mongolia, even though more yaks are stolen than people. 
Sandy: Nobody has proven that there was a kidnapping. We are innocent until proven guilty.
Stauffer: Maybe in Austria you are innocent until proven guilty. But your federation is guilty and both of us know it!
Sandy: That's for the judge and jury to decide. The last time I checked, you are not a lawyer, judge, or jury member. You will have to wait for the end of the trial like the rest of us.
Stauffer: To answer your question, the Austrians will be educating the Mongolians on Austrian laws regarding abduction. They should follow Austrian law since everything happened in Austria. But the judge could also refer to Mongolian law if there is a conflict. If Mongolia's kidnapping laws are stricter than Austria's, I hope that they will be applied to this case.
Sandy: We are not concerned about which laws are being used as a reference because Sweden is innocent. This case should never have come to trial! Herr Stauffer, you and the DSV are big bullies who have nothing better to do than accuse Sweden of a crime that it didn't commit.
BB: Before this gets out of hand, there is one more question for both of you. Can either of you tell our readers what the opening statements will be?
Stauffer: Each side will present its opening statements tomorrow. We will present evidence that Dr. Mabongo was indeed kidnapped by the Swedish team during the World Championships. Our legal team will focus on the following: Dr. Mabongo missing from the DSV's hotel, the ransom demand, and that he was found inside a Swedish skier's speed suit. We will also talk about how Sweden had great performances in the team event at the World Championships until Dr. Mabongo was returned to us. We will also prove that Swedish skiers or trainers forced Dr. Mabongo to use voodoo dolls of Felix Neureuther and Croatian skier Filip Zubcic to force Felix to fall and injure his knee in the team event.
Sandy: We will show that Dr. Mabongo was not abducted by our team. Instead, we will prove that he came to us voluntarily because he was being abused by the DSV. There was no crime committed and our federation is totally innocent of all charges. We will also show that Germany is trying to prosecute us because we have a better technical men's ski team.
Stauffer: Felix Neureuther was better than Andre Myhrer this season. Felix won a silver medal in Schladming and Andre was fourth in the slalom. You are jealous!
BB: Our readers are certainly looking forward to this trial. I want to thank both of you for your time. We also have a team of our intrepid reporters in Ulan Bator to bring our readers all of the proceedings and the verdict. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters are guilty of being intrepid.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Is Tiger Woods Cheating on Lindsey Vonn?

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The tabloid press has been buzzing with rumors that Tiger Woods has already been cheating on his new girlfriend, US skier Lindsey Vonn. The others have reported that Tiger cannot let go of his ex-wife Elin and that Lindsey was his number two choice. But our intrepid research team found out that there is a lot of cheating going on. It extends beyond the triangle of Tiger, Elin, and Lindsey to a lot more people. As usual, the Blickbild has its unique perspective on the romance and cheating between Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn. Here to talk with the Blickbild is Lindsey Vonn's physical therapist. Because he does not want people to know his true identity, we are calling him Patrick. 

BB: Patrick, how do you know that Tiger is cheating on Lindsey? They just announced that they are in love. It seems awfully quick for him to already be cheating on her.
Patrick: It appears that Tiger never got over losing Elin. When Tiger and Lindsey were at Tiger's daughter's t-ball game, Tiger made Lindsey sit in the car instead of watch the game. Tiger watched the game with Elin. Lindsey practically had a nervous breakdown over it. I seriously thought that she was going to kill herself and asked her family to be on suicide watch.
BB: But Lindsey had to know that Tiger will always have a connection with Elin because they have kids together.
Patrick: She understood that. But she didn't realize that Tiger was still in love with Elin when they first got together.
BB: Did Lindsey tell you that Tiger was still in love with Elin?
Patrick: Yes. We spend a lot of time every day doing physical therapy and talk to each other. She treats me like one of her girlfriends and confides in me. 
BB: In one of our previous stories, Lindsey confessed that Tiger was her backup choice because Roger Federer was unavailable. Could it also be possible that Lindsey is Tiger's backup choice because he can't have Elin?
Patrick: That is very possible. Both Lindsey and Elin are tall and blonde. They look almost like they could be sisters. Tiger likes tall blondes and Lindsey seemed to be a good substitute for Elin.
BB: When did Lindsey figure out that Tiger was still in love with Elin?
Patrick: It had nothing to do with sitting in the car during the t-ball game, as most people think. The real moment of clarity came when Lindsey and Tiger finished making love and he accidentally called her Elin. She was totally devastated by that and refused to leave her bed to go to the gym. I had to go to her house to do her therapy. But she was too depressed to get out of bed, so we did our therapy in bed.
BB: In other words, you had sex with her?
Patrick: It was the only thing that would console her. She was almost as devastated as when she lost the World Cup overall globe by 3 points. I felt it was my job to make her feel better so she would be motivated to get back to the gym to continue her therapy.
BB: How does Lindsey feel about Tiger regaining his number one ranking just after she was dethroned by Tina Maze?
Patrick: That also contributed to her current depression. First Tiger cheated on Lindsey with Elin, then he became number one in his sport. It was too much for her to bear. She is supposed to be the best and not be overshadowed by her boyfriend's accomplishments.
BB: You are married, aren't you?
Patrick: Yes.
BB: Does you wife know that you cheated on her?
Patrick: It wasn't really cheating, it was therapy. I was easing Lindsey's depression by making her feel wanted. First she got turned down by Roger Federer because he's married and faithful to his wife. Then she turned to Tiger, who cheated on her. I'm being paid to do whatever it takes to heal Lindsey and get her ready for the Olympics in Sochi.
BB: So far we have Tiger cheating on Lindsey with his ex-wife, then Lindsey cheating on Tiger with you as revenge for his cheating, then you cheated on your wife with Lindsey. 
Patrick: It turns out that my wife is also having an affair. She and one of her colleagues have been carrying on an office romance for the past six months. I just found out about it. So Lindsey and I actually consoled each other.  But remember, what happens in Lindsey's bed stays there.
BB: Our intrepid researchers found out that your wife is not the only woman that her colleague is having an affair with. He is having affairs with five other women besides your wife. But none of the women know about each other. This man is engaged to be married, but his fiancee doesn't know about his six women on the side. 
Patrick: I know who his fiancee is and she is not faithful either. She is having an affair with her auto mechanic and just found out that she's pregnant with his baby.
BB: I feel like I'm in the middle of a Mexican soap opera with all of these affairs! I suppose that the mechanic is married and his wife is having an affair.
Patrick: You are good!
BB: Of course I'm good. The Blickbild only hires the most intrepid reporters. 
Patrick: Yes, his wife is having an affair with another woman.
BB: And I suppose that the lesbian lover is also having an affair with someone besides the mechanic's wife?
Patrick: No, she is actually faithful. She is hoping that her lover will leave the mechanic and come to her. But so far the mechanic's wife likes having both her husband and a woman on the side.
BB: At least the mechanic's wife doesn't need to worry about her lesbian lover getting her pregnant. (slight pause) OK, let's see if I have this straight...Tiger is cheating on Lindsey with Elin, Lindsey is cheating on Tiger with you, you're cheating on your wife with Lindsey, your wife is cheating on you with a work colleague, the work colleague is cheating on his fiancee with a total of six women, the fiancee is cheating on him with her auto mechanic and is pregnant with his baby, and the mechanic's wife is cheating on him with her lesbian lover. 
Patrick: That sounds correct.
BB: So the lesbian lover broke the chain of cheating?
Patrick: No. The lesbian lover's brother is a sports writer for a major newspaper. He used to cover curling, but he got promoted to being the golf reporter a few years ago.
BB: And as the golf reporter, he got close to Tiger. Am I right?
Patrick: Yes you are. He got to know both Tiger and Elin because of his travels with the pro golf tour. When Tiger was cheating on Elin during their marriage, the brother was right there to help Elin.
BB: He had an affair with Elin?
Patrick: Not at first. He was the one who gave her the idea to hit Tiger with a golf club. It was only after that didn't work that they started having an affair. He was married when he started covering golf. After he started his affair with Elin, he found out that his wife was one of the women who Tiger was having sex with. They got divorced. He and Elin are still together. They have been faithful to each other up until now.
BB: Tiger and Elin got divorced because of his cheating. Now that they are divorced, they are cheating on their partners with each other. Oh the ironies of life! So where does this leave Lindsey?
Patrick: She now has the choice of beating up Tiger with either her crutches or ski poles. I would go with crutches because they are heavier. It would give her a better weight workout and she needs to work on her upper body strength.
BB: Who knows what will happen. But if Tiger's history with Elin is an indicator, he and Lindsey have a better chance of having a hot romance after they break up. Patrick, I want to thank you for talking with us. 
Patrick: It has been an honor to be interviewed by the Blickbild. None of the others have talked to me.
BB: And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters are faithful to their partners and would never cheat on them.

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