Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Soelden Redux

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Last weekend's opening races in Soelden were very exciting. The others will write about Ted Ligety's third win in a row or Lara Gut's surprise victory, which was her first in giant slalom. We won't because they have been replayed to death. One of our intrepid reporters was in Soelden, bringing our readers all the stories that the others did not dare to print.  Instead of our usual interview format, we will count down eight other memorable things about Soelden. Let's find out what they are.

8. Bode Miller is back. Yawn. Who cares? Other skiers have come back to the World Cup and scored points after longer absences from more severe injuries. There will be others making their comebacks in Levi, Lake Louise, and Beaver Creek. I'm sure some of them will also score points in their races. They will just have less fanfare. If anyone deserves big applause, it's Bode's wife Morgan. She was the one taking care of Bode's son and changing his nappies (diapers) while Bode was out having a good time racing.

7. The witch doctor's curse. Ski fans were hoping that Germany's witch doctor, Dr. Mabongo,  would not really carry out the Mongolian judge's order to curse the Swedish team. As our regular readers know, Dr. Mabongo was ordered to put a curse on Sweden so that its skiers would not win any races this season as a punishment for abducting him from the German team during the World Championships. (see this story) The best Swedish women's finisher was Maria Pietilae-Holmner in 7th. Andre Myhrer was the top Swedish man in Soelden in 23rd place. If Sweden does not have good finishes in future races, there is a possibility that the curse will be lifted because poor performances would be punishment enough. If the Swedish Ski Association sends the judge enough fermented yak milk pellets, his decision could be reversed even sooner.

6. Will Germany fire Dr. Mabongo? It looks like Dr. Mabongo, the German witch doctor, is coming under fire from the Deutscher Ski Verband (DSV). Even though Viktoria Rebensburg finished 3rd and her teammate Veronique Hronek finished a surprising 11th, Maria Hoefl-Riesch had a technical error and failed to finish. The men had a hard time with Fritz Dopfer finishing 21st and Stephan Luitz 22nd. Felix Neureuther lost a ski and failed to finish. Instead of realizing that Maria making an error and Felix losing a ski were things that can happen during a technical race, the DSV is blaming Dr. Mabongo for failing to prepare the German skiers properly. They also believe that Dr. Mabongo was unable to counteract curses and voodoo magic from other teams' witch doctors because he is getting older and losing his powers. Maybe he has been eating too much schnitzel and drinking too much beer. Whatever the reason, hopefully this is a temporary setback for Dr. Mabongo.

5. Neureuther scores 9.5 for Artistic Impression. When Felix Neureuther lost his ski in the second run, he did a great job keeping his balance. The judges on the sideline were so impressed that they gave him high marks for artistic impression. The German judge even gave Felix a perfect score of 10, but that was thrown out along with the Austrian judge's low score of 8.6. The four other judges' scores averaged 9.5. But Felix's serviceman was given an average score of 0.5 from the judging panel. For some strange reason the American judge gave the serviceman a score of 9.7. Fortunately, that score was thrown out. The serviceman appealed his score because he claimed that Felix's skis obviously had been cursed by an opposing team's witch doctor. His appeal was denied.

4. Best Hair. No race recap would be complete without commenting on who had the best hair. There was a tie between World Cup first-timer Kieffer Christianson of the USA and Austria's Rainer Schoenfelder. Kieffer had a short bowl haircut with a tail in the back and was often mistaken for a monk in Soelden. He lost count of the number of times he was called, "Brother Kieffer" over the weekend.  It is a tradition with the US men's ski team that racers making their World Cup debuts get a goofy haircut from their teammates. Kieffer's haircut certainly fit that description. Rainer's hair was a very wild 1980s big hair style. Think '80s rock group hair combined with an Afro. It looks like Rainer will have to keep his hair for a while because several families of birds have made their nests in it. Who knows what else Rainer will find in his hair when he cuts it after the baby birds leave their nests. He could have more things hidden in his hair than Harpo Marx had in his trench coat.

3. Three is the luckiest number. Both women's winner Lara Gut and men's winner Ted Ligety had start number 3. There are rumors that several ski federations are going to stuff the number draw box with a lot of papers with the number 3 on them in Levi and remove the ones with other numbers. FIS officials will post security guards and even hire Red Bull Mafia enforcer Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli to monitor the bib number draw in Levi.

2. Revenge of the Midgets. Lara Gut, Tina Weirather, and Veronique Hronek probably spent a lot of time in school being teased about their height, or lack thereof. On Saturday they got their revenge toward all of those tall people who told them that they would make ideal mates for Snow White's 7 Dwarves. Lara won the race, Tina was 5th, and Veronique 11th. Any tall people wanting to challenge Lara, Tina, or Veronique to a ski race will lose "big time." On Sunday, Ted Ligety, Alexis Pinturault, and Marcel Hirscher earned the first three podium places. All three of those men are not exactly National Basketball Association material. But on Sunday they stood the tallest in Soelden.

1. Les Wheaties. While Germany's Dr. Mabongo's star is fading, France's witch doctor, Dr. Djibuku, is now the hottest witch doctor in the World Cup. After French skiers took 6 out of the top 11 places in Soelden, racers from other teams were asking them what they had for breakfast on Sunday. Alexis Pinturault was 2nd, Steve Missilier 4th, Thomas Fanara 7th, Cyprien Richard 8th, Mathieu Faivre 9th, and Thomas Mermillod Blondin 11th. Dr. Djibuku talked to our intrepid reporter and here is what he had to say. At first Dr. Djibuku said that a good witch doctor never reveals his secrets. Then he said he was in a supermarket looking for ingredients for his potions and saw a box of the American cereal Wheaties. It said, "Breakfast of Champions" on the box. Dr. Djibuku was intrigued and bought a box. On race day he told the French skiers that they had to eat Les Wheaties for breakfast instead of their usual fare. The Wheaties obviously worked. Now the French team will eat Les Wheaties for breakfast every race day. Even Alexis Pinturault had Les Wheaties for breakfast with the team and will stick with Dr. Djibuku instead of the Red Bull witch doctor.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive story.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters eat their Wheaties every day. That is why they are so intrepid.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine skiing, please like us on Facebook. We are also on Twitter as bostonblickbild.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Vonn, Others To Skip Soelden

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

By now everyone knows that Lindsey Vonn is skipping out on racing at the World Cup season opener in Soelden. The others have already reported about Lindsey's cancellation, so we would normally avoid it like we would  a river full of hungry piranas. But there are others who have also decided that they won't be racing in Soelden. They just did not get as much media attention as Vonn. One of our intrepid reporters is on the scene in Soelden and found two other American skiers who will not be racing in Soelden. They called a press conference to announce that they are coming back from injuries but decided not to race this weekend. Our journalist was the only one who showed up. As a result, we were able to interview them and bring you a story that nobody else dared to print. The skiers' names are Dick Nessman and Jane Volinsky. Let's find out what Dick and Jane have to say.

BB: Dick, let's start with you. What was the nature of your injury?
Dick: Twenty years ago I fell while skiing and broke my shoulder. This is the first time I have been back on skis since then. 
BB: You look like you're about 40 to 45. Therefore, you haven't been on skis since you were in your mid-20s?
Dick: I'm 47. 
BB: Don't you think you're a little old to be racing in the World Cup?
Dick: Patrik Jaerbyn was racing in his 40s. There have been guys in their 40s and 50s who competed in the Olympics and World Championships. 
BB: Patrik Jaerbyn had a long career as a world class ski racer before he retired. He also trained seriously for races up until the day he retired and never took 20 years off.  
Dick: I don't think that anyone has come back 20 years after incurring an injury. I would have made World Cup skiing history for my big comeback. 
BB: Sorry, Dick, but if Lindsey decided to race in Soelden, she would have been the history maker. Her comeback in Soelden could have been the most spectacular ever in the history of skiing.
Dick: But she was only off of skis for a few months and I'm coming back after 20 years. 
BB: Sorry, but when Lindsey returns to racing, her comeback will be the most impressive of all time. Nothing can beat it, not even a 20-year absence. (short pause) Why did you wait 20 years to get back on skis? Were you afraid of being re-injured?
Dick: Fear of injury had nothing to do with it. After my injury and surgery, I was transferred by my firm from Colorado to Iowa. It is very flat in Iowa and there is no place to ski. I got married, had kids, and just could not find the time for a ski holiday. Now that my kids are older, I decided to take them to Soelden for the races. I also thought it would be a great opportunity to make my big comeback.
BB: What made you decide to come to Soelden?
Dick: I did a little bit of local ski racing when I was in college and am the only ski racing fan in the state of Iowa. If Bode Miller, who is not that much younger than me, can make his comeback in Soelden, then I could too. 
BB: Did you really think you had a chance against men who have trained their whole lives as ski racers?
Dick: Yes. Soelden is a tough course and there are a lot of racers who can't finish. I figured if I went at a careful pace, I could make it into the top 30 and get a second run. There are many guys who can't finish the second run, which could give me a good chance at a being on the podium. 
BB: What made you decide to skip racing in Soelden?
Dick: I was skiing fine, though at first I felt a little rusty after not skiing for 20 years. But after watching some of the other racers train, I realized that the odds of getting on the podium were slim to none. I decided not to race here and will make my comeback at a local master's race in the States. In the meantime, I will be a spectator here.
BB: Good luck with your comeback. I'm sure it will be spectacular. (short pause) Jane, tell our readers about your injury.
Jane: I was out hiking in July 2012 and got a splinter in my left pinky. I couldn't get it all out and the part that was left in ended up getting infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. My doctor thought he would have to amputate my finger. I couldn't ski for a whole season because it hurt too much to have my hand inside a glove and to hold a ski pole.
BB: It looks like you have all of your fingers. How did you recover?
Jane: I had surgery over the summer to remove the splinter fragment. The infection went away and now I am able to wear a glove without pain and ski again. I came to Soelden with the hope of being able to show the world I could come back from my life-threatening injury.
BB: Have you done any ski racing before?
Jane: No, but I am Lindsey Vonn's biggest fan.
BB: Stop right there! You can't be Lindsey's biggest fan because you don't look a thing like her. You have short dark hair and Lindsey has long blonde hair. If you were really Lindsey's biggest fan, you would make an effort to look just like her.
Jane:  Lindsey is not a natural blonde. She dyes her hair. But I decided that I would wear a blonde wig under my helmet when I raced so the spectators would think I was her.
BB: Why should you make your comeback to skiing here in Soelden? There are plenty of places in the States where you could get back on your skis.
Jane: I came to Soelden specifically to see Lindsey make her comeback. It would have been the biggest world event since the Berlin Wall came down. But she decided not to race here. I was disappointed almost to the point of depression. Then I had an idea.
BB: Which was?
Jane: My real name is Linda Jane Volinsky, but I always preferred to be called Jane. But I thought I could use the initials of my first and last names to my advantage. I approached one of the coaches of the US ski team and asked if I could race in Lindsey's place since we had the same initials and I was also coming back from an injury.
BB: What did the trainer say?
Jane: He told me to work out with the team. Afterward, he asked if I thought I could get on the podium in the race. I told him probably not since it was my first time back on skis in a year.  At that moment I realized that if Lindsey felt that she couldn't get on the podium in Soelden, then neither could I. She only wanted to race there if she was assured of a podium place. I didn't want to be a disgrace to my idol by finishing off the podium, so I made up my mind not to make my comeback on skis in Soelden. I will wait another month for my finger to fully heal.
BB: Since you're not making your comeback in Soelden, where will you do so?
Jane: I live in northern California, so probably at one of the ski areas by Lake Tahoe.
BB: I hope your finger feels 100% ready soon and that your comeback is a success.
Jane: Thank you. I know I will come back stronger than ever.
BB: Well, it looks like we are just about out of time. Dick and Jane, I want to thank you for your time and wish you both success in your big comebacks. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We get the stories that nobody else cares to report.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine skiing, please like us on Facebook. We are also on Twitter as bostonblickbild.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Quotas For Ski Teams At World Cup Races

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

 The International Olympic Committee (IOC) proposed limiting the number of athletes that a ski team can send to the Olympic Games. During the fall meeting in Zurich, the International Ski Federation (FIS) discussed the IOC's proposal and decided to implement its own quota system for World Cup races. We sent one of our intrepid reporters to Zurich to find out more about this proposal and how it would work. Our reporter was able to talk with Bob, our inside man at the FIS, about this new proposal and how it would affect World Cup races. Let's find out what Bob has to say.

BB: Bob, please tell our readers about this proposal from the FIS.
Bob: The FIS wants to limit the number of athletes from each country who can earn points in World Cup races. Starting in the 2014/15 season, only two racers per country will be able to earn points in races.
BB: That does not make sense. If there are a lot of Austrians in the top 30 of a men's downhill or slalom race, they should all get points.
Bob: That way of thinking is very old. At the FIS we want to help racers from countries like Fiji or Equatorial Guinea earn World Cup points.
BB: The skiers in the World Cup earned their positions by doing well in their continental cups or by earning enough points in FIS races. The ones who place in the top 30 should be rewarded, no matter their nationality.
Bob: Again with your old way of thinking. Safety is the number one priority at the FIS. But so is increasing our fan base and TV ratings. The best way to increase our worldwide audience is to make it easier for racers from non-traditional ski nations to earn World Cup points or even podium places. People from those countries, who never watched a ski race before, will be glued to their TV sets watching their countrymen compete for World Cup points. Think of the ratings!
BB: Our intrepid researchers talked with ski fans and asked them about this proposal. They were overwhelmingly against it. Ski fans want to see the best in the world racing against each other. They would rather see the 18th ranked Austrian racer than the number one from Tahiti. 
Bob: They will get used to it. Our goal is to level the playing field for smaller countries and give them a chance to experience World Cup glory.
BB: Will each team be allowed a certain number of participants in each race?
Bob: Each country will be allowed up to 6 racers, with the home country allowed up to 3 more. But only the top two from each country will earn points.
BB: I'm sorry, but that makes no sense. If three Austrians or Italians sweep the podium in a race, then the 3rd place skier should also get World Cup points and prize money. He or she earned those points and money through having the third-fastest time.
Bob: There will no longer be podium sweeps under our new system. In technical races only the top two finishers from the first run will go on to the second.
BB: What about speed and super-combined races?
Bob: In downhill and Super-G races, everyone can compete, but only the top two from each country will earn points. The others from that country can think of the race as extra training. Super-combined races will continue to be run the usual way. But only the top two racers from each nation will be eligible for points.
BB: Okay, let's say you have a slalom race. After taking the top two racers from each country, there are only 21 racers. Will some countries be allowed extra racers to get to 30 athletes for a complete second run?
Bob: That's a very good question. In that situation, we will take the best athletes of who is left after the top two finishers from each country. For example, we have 21 racers who qualified for the second run of a slalom or giant slalom. We will then take the best of who is left for those other nine places. There could be a situation where Austria, France, and Sweden have more than two skiers in the second run of a technical race. But only the top two from those countries will earn World Cup points.
BB: What is the FIS's logic for this two racer per country rule?
Bob: The racers from the non-traditional skiing nations can't compete with the powerhouse countries like Austria, Italy, France, or Switzerland and it makes them very sad. At the FIS, safety is our biggest priority. But one of our other priorities is making sure that all of the racers feel good about themselves. We learned our lesson last season, when Lindsey Vonn came out and said that she suffered from depression. The FIS doesn't want anymore ski racers to be depressed.
BB: Why not just give everyone a trophy for participation and not have any winners at all? That's what children's sports leagues do in the States. That way everyone can get something for being in a race.
Bob: We looked into doing that, but those whiny Austrians seem to think that winning should be rewarded.
BB: Have you asked the athletes how they feel about this proposal?
Bob: Of course not. Ever since we changed the giant slalom skis a few years ago, the athletes have been against everything we are trying to accomplish. We gave up on asking the athletes how they feel about any changes because they always have such a doom and gloom attitude. You'd think they would be happy about skiers from more countries being able to participate in races and having the chance to get points or podium places.
BB: Do you think that there will be a mass exodus of ski racers from the big countries like Austria, Switzerland, France, and Italy to smaller countries?
Bob: That could be possible. But the FIS has a rule that a racer must be a resident of a country for two years before competing for it.
BB: Do you think that the FIS will change that rule? Then we could see someone like Max Franz competing for Turkmenistan instead of Austria right away. Max could earn World Cup points instead of racing and getting shut out by staying with Austria.
Bob: Who is going to believe that someone with a name like Max Franz is from Turkmenistan?
BB: We have racers with German names, like Siegmar Klotz and Christof Innerhofer, competing for Italy.
Bob: You have a point.
BB: Our intrepid research team found out through focus group testing that fans cheer for the athlete rather than for the country. Ski fans would cheer for Max Franz whether he was from Austria or Zambia.
Bob: But that defeats the purpose of what we are trying to accomplish. People will soon realize that racers who compete for countries that nobody can find on a map are really Austrians, Swiss, French, or Italian. If Max Franz competes for Zambia, and places 3rd in a race behind two real Austrians, it will be the same as an Austrian sweep of the podium. The little countries are back where they started.
BB: Aren't your worried that the World Cup will descend into mediocrity because of letting skiers from Upper Volta into the second run of a slalom instead of the French?
Bob: Hey, wait a minute! I don't think that Upper Volta is a real country.
BB: It used to be. Now it's Burkina Faso.
Bob: To answer your question, no I don't think that the World Cup will become mediocre. Maybe the racers from Botswana aren't as fast as the Austrians. But we will introduce more people around the world to Alpine ski racing and increase our worldwide TV ratings. In addition, there will be more racers with high self esteem. What more could ski racing fans want?
BB: To see the very best in the world, even if they are only from a few countries. (short pause) Well, it looks like we are out of time. Thank you for your time. As always, you are a very interesting interview subject. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our intrepid reporters and researchers don't get participation trophies. They have to earn their intrepidness awards.

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

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Suedtirol Skiers to Become Austrian

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
Those crazy Austrians are at it again! Last season the Austrian Ski Federation (OeSV) failed in its attempt to bring German racer Fritz Dopfer back to the Austrian team (see this story). But Austria is dusting itself off and trying again. This time Austria wants all of the racers from the Suedtirol (South Tirol), which is the area of Italy that borders Austria. Rumours started flying about Austria wanting the Suedtiroleans after Italian skier Lisa-Magdalena Agerer was conspicuously absent from an Italian women's team photo. We sent one of our intrepid reporters to Soelden to talk with OeSV president Peter Schroecksnadel to see if those rumours were true. Let's find out what Herr Schroecksnadel has to say.

BB: Why does the OeSV want all of the Italian racers from the Suedtirol?
Schroecksnadel: Suedtirol is really a part of Austria. But because of somebody drawing an arbitrary border line, the Suedtirol ended up in Italy. Therefore, the skiers from that region are really Austrians. After all, more people speak German there than Italian. There are also more people in the Suedtirol with German surnames than Italian ones.
BB: I see. Is Lisa-Magdalena Agerer now competing for Austria? Is that why she was not in the Italian team photo?
Schroecksnadel: The OeSV is negotiating with the Italian Ski Federation to allow Lisa-Magdalena to ski for Austria. She has not formally signed with Austria yet, but a contract is in the works.
BB: How does the Italian Federation feel about Lisa-Magdalena competing for Austria?
Schroecksnadel: Italy really has no say in the matter. Lisa-Magdalena is half-Austrian and she lives in Austria. Therefore, she is entitled to be on the Austrian team. Anyway, the last Austrian women's Europa Cup overall winner, Jessica Dipauli, retired early. Austria needs a new Europa Cup champion who has the potential to be great in the World Cup. Lisa-Magdalena will be the perfect replacement for Jessica.
BB: Austria is the world's strongest ski racing superpower. Why take the Italian racers when yours are already so great? The OeSV failed once trying to get Fritz Dopfer back from Germany.
Schroecksnadel: Austria didn't get to be the premier ski racing superpower, and win the last 20 Nations Cups, by giving up. We will do whatever it takes to keep Austria's glorious ski racing tradition alive. Unfortunately, we did not have a good case for taking Fritz because Bayern (Bavaria) was a separate kingdom from Austria. But Suedtirol is really our land.
BB: How will the OeSV accomodate the Italian racers? There are limits on how many racers a country can enter in a World Cup race.
Schroecksnadel: We applied for an exemption from the International Ski Federation (FIS) and it was granted. Until the team gets back to its usual level through racers retiring, Austria will be allowed extra skiers in World Cup, World Championship, and Olympic races.
BB: Which other racers besides Lisa-Magdalena does Austria want?
Schroecksnadel: All of the racers from Suedtirol with German surnames. The men we want are: Christof Innerhofer, Werner Heel, Peter Fill, Patrick Thaler, Dominik Paris, Florian Eisath, Manfred Moelgg, Stefano Gross, and Siegmar Klotz. On the women's side we will take: Denise Karbon, Verena Stufer, Johanna Schnarf, and Maneula Moelgg.
BB: Stefano Gross has an Italian first name.
Schroecksnadel: And an German surname. He is also from Suedtirol.
BB: In other words, Austria wants Italy's very best racers.
Schroecksnadel: Italy will still have plenty of very good racers with proper Italian names. They will get to keep Daniela Merighetti, the Curtoni and Fanchini sisters, Matteo and Francesca Marsaglia, Chiarra Costazza, Frederica Brignone, Max Blardone, and Giuliano Razzolli.
BB: Why have you decided to take the racers from Suedtirol now?
Schroecksnadel: Italy has been imitating us for several years. It is obvious that the Italians really want to be Austrians. We have the euro for our currency and so does Italy. We got white speed suits and then the Italians did too. A few days after we unveiled our newest speed suits, which have a lot of black, the Italians showed off their new black speed suits. Think of what I am doing as helping the skiers from the Suedtirol fulfill their dreams.
BB: What if one of the skiers from Suedtirol wants to carry on competing for Italy? The racers are adults and should be able to decide which team they want to be on.
Schroecksnadel: We may allow exemptions for racers with a parent from another part of Italy because they would be dual citizens. But the rest will compete for Austria because the Suedtirol is really Austria and not Italy.
BB: How will you convince the Italian Ski Federation to give you their racers?
Schroecksnadel: We tried an ice cream for skiers deal, similar to what we did with Fritz Dopfer. But Italian ice cream is the world's best, so that didn't work. Now we are going to have the fans and the whole country of Austria, including the Suedtirol, help us.
BB: What is your plan?
Schroecksnadel: We have an agreement with the FIS to print, "Suedtirol is really Austria" on the front of every World Cup race ticket. In addition, businesses in the Suedtirol will display signs that say, "We are really Austrian and so are our ski racers" where customers can easily see them and people will also post them on their houses. Anyone who fails to comply will be put to work in an Austrian salt mine.  The Italian Ski Federation will have no choice but to give us their skiers from the Suedtirol.
BB: I'm sure that plan will succeed, but do you have a Plan B if it doesn't?
Schroecksnadel: Of course we do. Just last week, when the Austrian women's team arrived in Soelden for training, one of the trainers found an elephant that looked half-starved. At first we thought it escaped from the Innsbruck zoo and got lost trying to find its way back. But one of the racers found a large herd of elephants huddled together trying to keep warm near the start house.
BB: Now our readers will know what happened to the elephants that were supposed to be used to invade Slovenia. They have been wondering.
Schroecksnadel: You and I are thinking alike. My alternate plan will be to get the elephants back to full strength and then, like Hannibal, invade Italy with them and get our rightful land back. Then the skiers from Suedtirol will automatically be Austrian. We should easily be able to defeat Italy. They may beat us on the football field, but Italy hasn't had a significant military victory since around 400 AD. Suedtirol is ours!!
BB: Let's hope that you can negotiate with Italy for the racers from Suedtirol instead of invading it. Well, it looks like we are out of time. Herr Schroecksnadel, I want to thank you for this interview. We at the Blickbild want to wish the Austrian and Italian skiers a successful racing season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We are dual citizens of the insane asylum and the real world.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine skiing, please like us on Facebook. We are also on Twitter as bostonblickbild.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Red Bull to Sponsor Pinturault and Zampa

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Two weeks ago French super talent Alexis Pinturault posted on Facebook and Twitter that he had a big announcement. One of our intrepid reporters was immediately dispatched to France to get the story. Our reporter interviewed dozens of women in Courchevel, thinking that Alexis would be announcing his engagement. It turned out that Alexis' announcement had nothing to do with marriage. Instead, he told the world that Red Bull is his newest sponsor. Not to be outdone, Slovakian up-and-comer Adam Zampa announced last week that he now has two Austrian sponsors: the bakery Naglreiter and Red Bull. The others have already reported about these two racers and their new sponsors, so this is old news. But, as usual, we have our different spin on this story. We were unable to contact Adam Zampa, but Alexis Pinturault consented to an interview. Let's see what he has to say.

BB: Alexis, you had the ski world fooled by telling people you had a big announcement. A lot of people were expecting you to announce that you were engaged. 
Pinturault: I even fooled your intrepid reporters and researchers. Maybe they are really not so intrepid after all.
BB: You did. But we found out that there are a lot of young women in the Courchevel area who would be happy to marry you. And, by the way, we have the most intrepid reporters and researchers in the business. 
Pinturault: There are a lot of very nice women in Courchevel. But I am not ready to get married yet.
BB: Why Red Bull?
Pinturault: Red Bull sponsors some of the best athletes in the World Cup like Aksel Lund Svindal and Erik Guay.
BB: Aksel is Norwegian, Erik is part Norwegian and you are half Norwegian. Are you saying you joined the Red Bull team for the ojlmsfjaegger?
Pinturault: The what?
BB: Don't tell me you are half-Norwegian and never heard of ojlmsfjaegger.
Pinturault: I have no idea what you are talking about.
BB: Every Norwegian's favorite birthday treat. Ojlmsfjaegger are cubes of pickled reindeer heart covered in a special smoked salmon and chocolate sauce.  Didn't your mother ever make them for you on your birthday?
Pinturault: No, she made cakes for my birthdays.
BB: Red Bull happens to  have a full staff of Norwegian grandmothers whose job is to make ojlmsfjaegger for its Norwegian and part-Norwegian athletes. (slight pause)  Do you even like Red Bull?
Pinturault: No. It tastes like something that would take paint off the walls! In fact, I accidentally spilled some on a rug at home and the Red Bull burned a hole in it. I don't want to know what it will do to my stomach.  But Red Bull promised to send me to a special training center in Austria to help me learn to drink it without throwing up. (for more information about the Thalgau training center, see this story.) I heard that Adam Zampa won't have to go to the Austrian training center because he seems to drink as much Red Bull as Lindsey Vonn. In every photo he posts of himself, he has a can of Red Bull.
BB: I don't think that anyone can top Lindsey Vonn's Red Bull consumption. But Adam could be a very close second.
Pinturault: If Adam can drink borovicka (the national alcoholic drink of Slovakia), he can easily drink Red Bull. They both taste awful!
BB: Very true. Are you jealous of Adam because he has two Austrian sponsors and you only have one?
Pinturault: No. I'm glad that I don't have a bakery sponsoring me. The Red Bull is bad enough. But if I had to eat lots of bakery treats to keep my sponsor happy along with drinking Red Bull, I would be too fat to ski!
BB: I'm sure that Adam will be able to manage his diet or give all of the baked goods to his girlfriend. Speaking of unhealthy sponsors, why not go with Milka instead of Red Bull? Most women find that a box of Milka chocolates is a much more romantic gesture than a can of Red Bull.
Pinturault: Milka sponsors women. I'm sure your intrepid researchers noticed that there are Milka Girls but no Milka Boys.
BB: Of course they have! But you could be the first Milka Man and live every man's dream of being surrounded by beautiful women.
Pinturault: Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Sarka Strachova are married; Elena Curtoni and Tina Maze have boyfriends. The only single Milka Girl is Tessa Worley.
BB: Alpine skiing's current power couple, Benjamin Raich and Marlies Schild, will be retiring soon. Everyone will be wondering who their replacement would be. You and Tessa would be ideal.
Pinturault: Tessa is very sweet and everyone on the French team likes her. But our racing and training schedules would keep us apart a lot of the time. We all saw how well that worked for Aksel and Julia.
BB: You have a point, but there can be a way for things like that to work out. (pause) It looks like you didn't go with Red Bull for the ojlmsfjaegger  or because you like its taste. The French ski team has everything an athlete needs, including its own witch doctor. What can Red Bull offer you that your federation can't? 
Pinturault: My own Mafia hit man. The French Ski Federation may have a witch doctor, but it doesn't have a Mafia hit man.
BB: Why do you need a Mafia enforcer? There have not been any reports of deranged Italian men trying to touch your skis or coming to races with Alexis Pinturault voodoo dolls. You have also not received death threats.
Pinturault: That is true. Nobody tries to touch my skis or put any voodoo curses on me. But there are two reasons I would like my own Mafia hit man: Ted Ligety and Marcel Hirscher. Don't get me wrong. I like Ted and Marcel and certainly don't want to kill them.  I just want them to make a mistake in a race once in a while so I can have my share of wins too. A little talk from a Mafia hit man would be very convincing.
BB: You need to be careful about being greedy for wins. Sweden is now under a court-ordered curse this season because one of its skiers kidnapped Germany's witch doctor because she wanted to win a race. (see the end of this story.) Anyway, you are perfectly capable of beating Ted and Marcel on your own.
Pinturault: True. But think of how cool it would be to show up at races with my own Mafia enforcer. Ted may have his Shred Optics, but he doesn't have his own hit man.
BB: Since Aksel, Erik, and Adam are sponsored by Red Bull, they also have access to Red Bull's large stable of witch doctors. Aren't you the least bit concerned that all of these witch doctors will end up putting curses on you?
Pinturault: No. I won't have to worry about Erik so much because he's a speed specialist and I'm a technical racer. I am confident that Dr. Djibuku (the French ski team's witch doctor) will be able to counter any curses that the others throw at me.
BB: Are you worried about starting a Mafia gangland war? It could get rather brutal if the other Red Bull skiers decided to have their Mafia hit men go after the other racers or each other. What if every ski federation gets its own Mafia hit man in the near future? The idea of having your very own Mafia enforcer sounds cool, but the reality could be a bloodbath. Would you really want your fellow racers being caught in the crossfire?
Pinturault: Of course not! I want to win races honestly and not because my competitors were killed in a Mafia turf war.
BB: I'm sure you will win your share of races this season without the aid of a Mafia enforcer.
Pinturault: I hope so too. But it's always good to have that extra bit of insurance. And, no matter what you say, having my own Mafia hit man will exponentially increase my "coolness factor" this season.
BB: I'm sure it will. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview and wish you a great season. Marcel, Ted, and the rest should be very worried in Soelden and in all of the other technical races. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Don't drink borovicka if you cherish your digestive tract. Stick with the ojlmsfjaegger.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine skiing, please like us on Facebook. We are also on Twitter as bostonblickbild.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Lindsey Vonn May (Or May Not) Race In Soelden

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

We usually avoid non-newsworthy stories like we would a vial of Ebola virus. But the others have reported about Lindsey Vonn saying that she will possibly race in Soelden instead of waiting until the North American speed races in November. We at the Blickbild felt that this story did not meet our  journalistic standards. Since the others obviously thought there was something to it, we sent one of our intrepid reporters to track down Ms. Vonn. She was unavailable due to traveling around the country convening press conferences and signing autographs. So we sent our plucky journalist to Soelden, Austria to give readers our unique perspective on this story that's only fit for a slow news day. Our reporter was able to talk with Soelden Burgermeister (mayor) Ernst Schoepf. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Lindsey Vonn may race in Soelden in a little over three weeks. What is your opinion on that?
Schoepf: There will be about 120 to 140 racers in Soelden--60 to 70 men and the same number of women. One more or one less won't make a difference.
BB: If Lindsey does come to Soelden, won't you have to make special preparations?
Schoepf: No. Marcel Hirscher is also coming and we are not making special preparations for him. In fact, I am looking forward to seeing him race with his improved vision and without his dog. What sort of special preparations are you talking about?
BB: First of all, you will need to ensure that she has all the Red Bull she can drink.
Schoepf: She's sponsored by Red Bull. I'm sure they can take care of that for her.
BB: Then you will need some little girls to walk in front of her and throw rose petals.
Schoepf: We have plenty of little girls here in Soelden. But they would rather be skiing or cheering for the Austrian racers. Doesn't she have a sister who could put rose petals in her path?
BB: I'm sure her sister could be up for that task. The only problem would be finding her way to Soelden on those narrow European roads that have no signs without a sophisticated navigation system.
Schoepf: It's a good thing she wasn't part of the Germanic tribes who conquered Rome 1600 years ago. They didn't have Google Maps or GPS systems, yet they were able to get to Rome and sack it.
BB: Very true. The last thing you would need to provide is a band to play a fanfare for Lindsey wherever she goes. After all, she is making the biggest comeback ever in World Cup skiing history and this would ensure that everyone else knows it too.
Schoepf: We do have bands that play at local fests in the summer. But the winter is their time off. If our Austrian skiers don't require a band, then she can also get by without one.
BB: What about having a few trumpeters? I'm sure there are plenty of trumpet players in Austria.
Schoepf: Maybe we can find an Alphorn player or two. But we would have to book any musicians right now so they have time to rehearse.
BB: The problem is that Lindsey doesn't know for certain if she will race in Soelden.  She will only race if she feels 100% ready physically and mentally.
Schoepf: It's the same thing for our musicians. They will not perform in public unless they feel that they are 100% prepared for their gig. By the way, who will pay them if they prepare to be Ms. Vonn's personal musicians in Soelden and she ends up not racing?
BB: That is between the musicians and Lindsey's sponsors. I'm sure they will get paid. You don't seem very willing to make Lindsey feel welcome in Soelden.
Schoepf: She is not the only person I need to worry about. There will be a lot of racers with their trainers, service men, and massage therapists. Some of the teams have witch doctors and we have to accommodate them along with all of the visitors to my lovely town. I also have to take care of the FIS people. I'm sure her team or her Red Bull bodyguard will take good care of her.
BB: Speaking of bodyguards, do you feel that Soelden is a safe town? Do you think that Lindsey will require a bodyguard like she did in Schladming?
Schoepf: Soelden is very safe. None of the Austrian skiers require bodyguards and the fans are all over them. She will be perfectly safe here without a bodyguard.
BB: Will you require the course workers to have background checks to make sure that they are not the types to put soft snow or rocks on the course just before Lindsey's run?
Schoepf:  I'm sure the FIS takes care of that.
BB: Will the fans be checked for voodoo dolls before entering the race venue?
Schoepf: No, the fans won't be checked for voodoo dolls. Who believes in that stuff anyway?
BB: Be careful. You will have a bunch of Congolese witch doctors in Soelden putting a curse on you for talking that way.
Schoepf: What do voodoo dolls and witch doctors have to do with Lindsey Vonn's decision to race in Soelden?
BB: Everything. Our readers won't find out until close to the last minute if Lindsey is racing in Soelden. She wants to come to Austria for some last-minute training before making her decision. As the mayor, you need to be prepared for her to show up in town to race, which also entails doing body scans of the fans for voodoo dolls.
Schoepf: The whole town of Soelden will be prepared for all of the racers. Every year we have the opening races in Soelden and they are always a success. It doesn't matter who races here or who skips the races.
BB: If Lindsey decides that she is not 100% fit and wants to skip Soelden, will you cancel the women's race?
Schoepf: Of course not! What a ridiculous question! The only way the races will be cancelled is because of bad weather or no snow. We don't cancel races just because someone decides not to participate in them. Beat Feuz is not racing in Soelden and we won't cancel the men's race because of that.
BB: Wow, you sure don't have any respect for one of the top female skiers.
Schoepf: I respect all of the racers and don't give preferential treatment to any of them.
BB: And yet the people of Soelden have elected you mayor. What were they thinking?
Schoepf: This is an Austrian town and only residents can vote for mayor. The people here are happy with the job I am doing. We will have a great season opener, no matter who competes, and will continue to do so in future years.
BB: Aren't you worried that if you don't provide the Red Bull, rose petals, and musicians, or refuse to cancel the race if Lindsey declines to participate, Tiger Woods will give a big campaign donation to your opponents in the next election?
Schoepf: He cannot do that. We are only allowed to take campaign donations from Austrians. Tiger Woods is not Austrian.
BB: Who do you think will win in Soelden?
Schoepf: I hope that Austria has a good showing like last year. I hope that Marcel wins.
BB: If Lindsey is in the women's race, do you think she will win?
Schoepf: I thought she wanted to compete in the men's race.
BB: That was last year. This year is all about  her big comeback.
Schoepf: Good, because I don't think she would win the men's race. Marcel, Ted Ligety, Alexis Pinturault, and the other men will see to that.
BB: By the way, Bode Miller will be racing in Soelden and making his comeback after a year off. What is your opinion of that?
Schoepf: As with Lindsey, Bode is just one of many racers in Soelden. Don't tell me I have to make special preparations for him.
BB: No you don't. Well, it looks like we are just about out of time. I want to thank you for your time and for this interesting interview. Let's hope for some good racing in Soelden. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters get paid with money and not Red Bull and flower petals.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine skiing, please like us on Facebook. We are also on Twitter as bostonblickbild.