Friday, November 28, 2014

How FIS Points Are Calculated

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

We are constantly getting letters and e-mails asking how FIS points are calculated. They are one of the hardest things for racing fans to fully comprehend. Well, dear readers, you are in luck. Our very own Answer Man, who is really one of our intrepid researchers, can explain about how ski racers earn FIS points and how they are figured. The FIS formula is supposed to be so complex, nobody can decipher it. But our Answer Man has cracked the code and will tell all about how FIS points are really calculated. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: What are FIS points?
Answer Man: The short answer would be a skier's ranking in a discipline. Every ski racer is compared to the top athlete in a specific discipline and given points, which translates to a numerical ranking. The top ranked racer in a discipline has zero points and the others have a point score that corresponds with their ranking. The smaller the number, the higher the ranking.
BB: Wait a minute!  I thought that the top racer gets 100 points and not zero.
Answer Man: You are referring to World Cup race points. Those points are related to an athlete's finishing position in a World Cup race. FIS points are what you see in a race results list on the right hand side. Athletes get points in every race from the World Cup to smaller FIS races. The higher a racer finishes, the fewer FIS points he or she earns. There are two parts to calculating FIS points. The first is a direct comparison of a racer's time to the winner's.
BB: Please explain how this is done. 
Answer Man: The first part of the equation is called the race points. The FIS uses the formula P = [(F X Tx) : To] - F.  Tx is the racer's time in seconds, To is the winner's time in seconds and F is a special secret factor that differs for each type of race. For example, the F factors in 2010/11 were: slalom 610, giant slalom 870, super-combined 1130, Super-G 1060, and downhill 1330. The F numbers are changed every year. Let's say that Marcel Hirscher beats Ted Ligety in a giant slalom race by 0.1 seconds and Marcel's winning time was 1 minute and 43.47 seconds. Here is how we would calculate Ted's race points: [(870 X 103.57) : 103.47] - 870, which rounds off to 0.84. 
BB: Let's go back for a moment. How did the FIS get those numbers for the F factor in the different disciplines?
Answer Man: The FIS had a committee of 5 mathematics professors who came up with those numbers. Only they know the secret formula for generating them.
BB: Are you really expecting our readers to believe this?
Answer Man: Okay, here is what really happened. There truly was a committee of five members who were tasked to figure this out. They could not come to an agreement, so they went to the local toy store and bought the biggest Pin the Tail on the Donkey set they could find. Then they printed the numbers from 0 to 2000 on the donkey. When they finished that, the first guy was blindfolded, spun around, and had to pin his tail on the donkey. All five did that for each discipline. The five numbers where the pins landed were averaged and rounded up to the nearest 10.
BB: That is a lot more believable than a bunch of mathematicians inventing a super secret formula. 
Answer Man: The only other requirement was that each F number contains at least one digit that is a prime number. If the original rounded-up number did not contain a digit that was a prime number, then they used the next one that was a multiple of 10 until they got one.
BB: What is the deal with prime numbers?
Answer Man: Evidently someone at the FIS thought that having a prime digit would make their F numbers seem more sophisticated. It would also make ski racing appeal to those who are autistic. Many people on the autism spectrum are fascinated with prime numbers.
BB: I thought many autistic people were fascinated with actual prime numbers versus numbers that happen to contain a prime digit.
Answer Man: That was the best that the FIS could do under the circumstances.
BB: OK, I'll go along with that.  The first part is very straightforward. You calculate each race finisher's time compared to the winner's time using numbers with at least one prime digit that the FIS obtained by playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
Answer Man: Correct! The second part is very complex. One of the biggest priorities at the FIS is having an aura of mystery that is designed to totally confuse the fans.
BB: I thought that safety and TV ratings were two of the FIS's biggest priorities.
Answer Man: Of course they are. But so is keeping the fans confused. The second part of the FIS point score is called race penalty points or RPP. RPP is figured by the following simple formula: |[(A + B - C) : 10] - (Ae + Lo) + N|. We take the absolute value of the answer in case it is a negative number.
BB: You will have to explain all of these things so that our readers will understand.
Answer Man: Of course. A is the FIS point total of the top 5 ranked athletes who started the race.
BB: Hold up there. How do you find out the FIS point total of the top 5 starters?
Answer Man: The FIS has a list of every racer along with his or her FIS points. We simply look on the list and add up the points.
BB: OK, carry on with the rest of the formula. 
Answer Man: B is the FIS point total of the 5 racers with the best FIS ranking who finished in the top 10 of the race. C is the race points of the 5 racers in B.
BB: How did they come up with using point totals of the top 5 ranked starters and best 5 out of 10 in a race? Was that also decided by a children's party game?
Answer Man: No. It was a college drinking game minus the alcohol. The same five people at the FIS who came up with the F numbers for race points each tried to bounce a 50 euro cent coin into a glass in the middle of a table. They were given 10 tries and averaged getting the coin into the glass 5 out of 10 times. That made them realize that the numbers 5 and 10 were special and set out to include them in the penalty points formula.  Those numbers are also easy to figure on an abacus. In fact, at races there are special  employees who sit with abacuses to calculate the racers' FIS points. They are much faster than a computer.
BB: How are the FIS previous point totals figured for A and B?
Answer Man: They take the FIS points from the best two races of the season and average them. That is the number used. If a racer wants to improve his ranking, he needs to have fewer points than his second best point total.
BB: This sounds very complex indeed. What are the rest of the numbers in the formula?
Answer Man: Ae is the number of animals that the top 5 ranked athletes in the race earned through winning races. For example, if someone wins a reindeer in Levi or a moose in Lake Louise, that gets included in the race penalty points calculation.
BB: Uh....Ski racers don't win a moose in Lake Louise. 
Answer Man: Well they should because it would help them to improve their ranking. Lo is the number of operations on any part of a ski racer's leg or foot that the athletes in B had.
BB: What if a racer had back surgery, shoulder surgery, or brain surgery? Shouldn't that also count?
Answer Man: Someone at the FIS decided that since you don't ski on your back, shoulder, or head, only leg and foot surgery counts. That could be changed if someone decides to ski the race course on his or her head or shoulder.
BB: What is N?
Answer Man: That is actually the sum of two numbers, which is only figured for the one racer whose points the FIS is calculating. The first is the absolute value of the number of letters in a ski racer's first name minus 5 or 10, whichever answer is smaller, added to the absolute value of the number of letters in a racer's surname minus 5 or 10, whichever answer is less. Tina Maze would have an N value of 2: She has 4 letters in her first name and four in her last. Four minus five is -1 and -1 + - 1 = -2.  The absolute value of -2 is 2. Marcel Hirscher would have an N value of 1: Six letters in Marcel minus 5  is one and 8 letters in Hirscher minus 10 is -2; one and -2 add up to -1, which has an absolute value of 1.   Carlo Janka would have a perfect N value of zero because both his first and last name contain 5 letters.
BB: Ah, the magic numbers of 5 and 10 again. 
Answer Man: That's right. You can see that those numbers are very special to the FIS. But this time the FIS committee didn't use any party games for the N value. They said if 5 and 10 worked  for getting the F factor for races and the A and B the penalty points formula, they would be ideal for the N value.
BB: I see. So in the interest of keeping it simple, a racer's FIS points for any given race are simply the race points plus the penalty points? 
Answer Man: Exactly! It is a combination of comparison to the race winner and others in the race using numbers obtained from pinning tails on a paper donkey, bouncing a coin into a glass, leg surgery, the number of letters in a racer's first and last name, and the number of animals that the athletes won in races. All of this is calculated with an abacus instead of a computer. You are very smart to understand this formula the first time hearing it.
BB:  Of course I am! The Blickbild hires its reporters for their intellect as well as their intrepidness. I'll need to buy an abacus so I can calculate points when I watch the races. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview and for helping our readers to decipher how FIS points are tallied. I'm sure they can now do this at home with an abacus or even a slide rule.  And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Quick! Someone show us how to use an abacus!

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. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Levi 2014 Wrap-Up

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The first slalom races of the season have ended. The others will talk about Henrik Kristofferson and Tina Maze's victories, or about the racers who had their first top-10 and top-5 finishes (Nina Loeseth, Michelle Gisin, Alexander Khoroshilov, Sebastian-Foss Solevaag, and Daniel Yule), or how the French men flopped. We won't. Our intrepid reporters were in Levi for the weekend and they are bringing you, dear readers, their unique perspective on the events there. Let's find out what they have to say.

Never Give Up.  Adam Zampa of Slovakia was in 10th place after the first run. In the second run he was leading after the first two splits. Then he had a big mistake and had to hike up to make a gate. A little further down, he had another error and hiked up to make that gate. He ended up finishing the race in last place out of the 28 finishers but did not earn World Cup points because he failed to make the time limit. Most other racers would have given up and simply skied out after having to hike up a second time, but not Adam. He showed that he has the same intrepid fighting spirit as our reporters and research team. In fact, if Adam needs a job when he retires from ski racing, he can work for us. We can always use someone with his determination to never give up, even when the odds are hopeless.

Not a Sack of Potatoes. Austria's Rosina Schneeberger fell and tore her ACL and meniscus in Saturday's race. One of the course workers, who wishes to remain anonymous for a good reason, decided to be gallant and let Rosina ride on his back down the hill. He must have thought it would be quicker than waiting around for a sledge. The TV cameras showed Rosina getting a piggyback ride. What the cameras didn't show was the course worker dropping Rosina at the bottom of the hill. Talk about adding insult to injury! It looks like a certain course worker needs to spend some time in the gym lifting weights before attempting to carry anymore injured racers. We at the Blickbild wish Rosina a full recovery and hope to see her back on the race pistes.

The Jet Lag Express. After 26 hours of travel, the US team arrived in Levi on Thursday night. There were a lot of delays, which is to be expected in a trip with many stops. Instead of getting a direct flight to Helsinki, team officials decided to save money and booked a multi-stop trip. The team went from Denver to New York to Greenland to London to Frankfurt to Helsinki. Then they went from Helsinki to Levi on a reindeer sled, since all of the flights were booked. The miraculous thing about this trip was that nobody's luggage or equipment got lost. The US team's performance suffered because of the long trip and jet lag. Mikaela Shiffrin's 11th place finish was the best US result in Levi. A spokesman for the US team said next year the team will travel from Colorado to New York by stagecoach and then from New York to Finland on a ship. It would still take less time than this year's journey to Levi.

Bode Was Here. Even though US star Bode Miller did not compete in Levi, he was there in spirit and Ted Ligety's body. Ted's second run was very wild and reminiscent of Bode and his reckless style. Ted was all over the place and had multiple errors. It looked like he would straddle a gate or ski out at any time. But he somehow managed the fastest run up to that point. It turns out that Bode is having back surgery and will be out for the next two months. But never fear--Ted is well qualified to be his able replacement until he returns to action.

Reindeer Games. There were rumours floating around Levi that Henrik Kristoffersen's reindeer Lars was really a large dog with antlers strapped to his head. Race officials were worried about giving Henrik an actual reindeer, especially after overhearing him talking with his teammates about grilling reindeer steaks after the race to celebrate Norway's success in Levi. They fastened antlers on a large dog and got him ready for the award ceremony in case Henrik won. At the award ceremony Henrik was presented with the antlered dog. But, being Norwegian, Henrik knows what reindeer look like and could not be fooled that easily. The race officials were forced to give him a real reindeer. But he had to sign a contract stating that Lars could not be turned into steaks or ojlmsfjaegger.

What's With That Spot? A lot of racers had trouble at one point in the transition from the flatter first section to the steep middle part of the course in Levi. Mario Matt, Alexis Pinturault, Jean-Baptiste Grange, Adam Zampa, Reinfried Herbst, and others had to either slow down a lot, hike up to make a gate, or ski out in that same spot. There were many theories floating around Levi about that particular spot. The first was that it was cursed by one of the team witch doctors. But all of the team witch doctors denied cursing the course. Some people speculated that the skiers got momentarily sucked into a vortex, which forced them to slow down or make a massive error when they emerged from it. That theory was also dismissed, though it was just as plausible as a witch doctor's curse.  The most believable theory is that the Naughty Ninja Stone of Doom from Soelden (see this story) came to Levi and had "gone rogue." Since the stone had targeted Ted Ligety in Soleden,  the US Ski Team is the top suspect in putting the stone on the course to trip up the others. Was it strictly a coincidence that the US skiers did not have problems at that spot? The FIS is currently investigating whether the US Ski Team had anything to do with the stone going after everyone, or if it decided to go rogue on its own. Our intrepid reporters will bring you the results of that investigation when it is complete.

Witch Doctor Review. No Blickbild race review would be complete without rating the team witch doctors. France's Dr. Djibuku may have a shorter-than-expected time in France based on the performances in Levi. Alexis Pinturault and Jean-Baptiste Grange did not make the second run. The top French finisher was Julien Lizeroux in 19th place followed by Victor Muffat-Jeandet, who was tied for 21st. Someone needs to get out the box of Les Wheaties. Germany's Dr. Mabongo and Norway's new witch doctor, Dr. Mwafume, were the top two witch doctors in Levi. Dr. Mwafume worked with both the Norwegian men and women in Levi and his efforts resulted in Nina Loeseth placing 5th in her race and Henrik Kristoffersen winning with Sebastian Foss Solevaag taking 4th place in the men's race. The only negative was that Leif Kristian Haugen did not finish the second run. Dr. Mabongo only works with the German men's technical team now. All three of the German men finished in the top 15: Felix Neureuther was 3rd with back problems, Fritz Dopfer 6th, and Philipp Schmid 14th. When asked what he gave to Felix to help with his back, Dr. Mabongo simply said, "A good witch doctor never reveals his secrets." We'll look forward to the next witch doctor showdown in two weeks.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive report. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Even our reporters can tell the difference between a reindeer and a large dog with antlers.

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, November 14, 2014

Freedonia Ski Team Investigation Complete

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The International Ski Federation (FIS) has completed its investigation of Thai skier Vanessa Mae and the Slovenian and Italian officials who helped her to qualify for the Sochi Olympics. Vanessa Mae and the officials have been suspended for between one and four years. This is old news that the others have already reported, so we won't bother with it. The FIS also looked into how the Mafia enforcers of the Freedonian Ski Team made it to Sochi. What the FIS found will surprise everyone. Here to talk with one of our intrepid reporters is Bob, our favorite contact at the FIS. Bob was part of the committee which investigated Team Freedonia. Let's find out what he has to say. 

BB: Hello, Bob. It's nice to see you again. How are you doing?
Bob: I am doing very well, thank you. It's good to see you too.
BB: Tell our readers about the results of the FIS investigation into the Freedonian Olympic Ski Team. 
Bob: We found no wrongdoing by the Freedonians.
BB: Wait a minute! How can that be? You and your committee found all sorts of irregularities before. (see this story
Bob: We did at first, but after investigating each one, we found no criminal activity or intent to defraud the FIS or the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The Freedonian officials' suspensions have been reversed and they were given all of their rightful back pay.
BB: Are you admitting that the FIS was wrong?
Bob: The FIS is always right, even when we're supposedly wrong.
BB: Let's go through all of the different points one by one to see how the FIS ruled in Freedonia's favor. The first point is that Freedonia is not a real country. Haven't you ever seen the Marx Brothers' movie "Duck Soup?"
Bob: Of course I have seen "Duck Soup." But the IOC was very insistent on increasing the number of countries that participate in the Winter Olympics, even if some of those countries were fictional. Team Freedonia was actually helping the IOC achieve its goal of a record number of countries represented in Sochi.
BB: The next item is that Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli got FIS points for winning the beginners' race at his ski school. 
Bob:  At the time that Vinnie took his first ski lessons, he was still a patient at the New Jersey Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Before doing the race, his instructor told him to imagine that he was in a real FIS race. After the race, which he won, he wanted to know how many points he got. Since Vinnie was considered criminally insane, nobody wanted to set him off. He was told that he earned real FIS points. After he recovered, nobody wanted to be the one to tell him that his instructor gave him points out of self-preservation. Because Vinnie was considered legally insane at the time, he was allowed to keep his points. Even after he recovered from his illness, he competed in novice races and earned FIS points. We let him keep his points to prevent a relapse.
BB: Are you saying that Vinnie set a precedent using the insanity defense to earn the points required to qualify for the Olympics?
Bob: That is an interesting question. I suppose you could say he did. But the point is that Vinnie was a victim of his illness and therefore did nothing wrong.
BB: Okay. Another member of the Freedonian team, Giovanni "The Hammer"Maggio did not actually participate in any qualifying races, but his 12-year-old son Fabrizio did. 
Bob:  Fabrizio, or "Little Hammer," is quite a gifted ski racer and could make the US Ski Team if he keeps going the way he is. He did race in the Olympic qualifiers and easily earned enough FIS points to go to Sochi. But here is the thing that confused everyone. Fabrizio is actually Giovanni Fabrizio Maggio Jr. He goes by his middle name so that people don't confuse him with his father.  At first our investigators thought that Fabrizio did the races and his father went to the Olympics. But it was actually Fabrizio who went to Sochi. He was registered under his legal name of Giovanni, which  caused confusion. Again, there was no wrongdoing by the Freedonians except for befuddling some of the officials. As far as we know, this is not a crime.
BB: Fair enough. Lorenzo "The Razor" Dinova competed in an Albanian junior championship even though he was 37. That sounds an awful lot like Vanessa Mae competing in the Slovenian Junior Championships at age 34 or 35. 
Bob: The difference between Vanessa Mae and Lorenzo is that Vanessa Mae is not Slovenian, while Lorenzo has an Albanian great-grandparent. Lorenzo's maternal grandmother's mother emigrated from Albania to Italy, where she met her husband. She and her children later emigrated to the USA.
BB: Are you saying that even if I am 1/8th Albanian, I can compete in its national junior championships in my 30s? 
Bob: No. Here is another difference between Vanessa Mae and Lorenzo's races. Vanessa Mae was in a real junior race. She was the oldest competitor by far. Lorenzo was one of the youngest in his race.
BB: Hold on there! Junior races are for those under 21.
Bob: The junior race that Lorenzo competed in was the Albanian Senior Home Resident Championships. Residents of homes for senior citizens all over Albania compete in this race. There are two divisions: the senior division, which is for those over age 80, and the junior division, which is for those 80 and younger. Lorenzo was in the junior division.
BB: But Lorenzo is from New York and never lived in an Albanian senior citizens' home.
Bob: It turned out that there was a shortage of people scheduled to compete in that race last year. The Albanian Ski Federation put out an invitation to anyone with an Albanian ancestor to participate. So it turns out that Lorenzo qualified for Sochi fair and square.
BB: The last person that I will mention did not make it into our original article because our intrepid research team found about this after the article was published. Carlo "The Raptor" Spinelli competed in a race in Abu Dhabi in July. What went on there? It is over 40 C (104 F) in Abu Dhabi in the summer. Most of the summer races are in the Southern Hemisphere, not in a Middle Eastern desert.
Bob: We also checked out that race. It turns out that it was a special race to promote skiing in the Middle East, which was conducted in Abu Dhabi's newest indoor skiing hall.  Everyone who participated in that race was given FIS points. Through that race Mr. Spinelli earned enough points to be able to compete in Sochi. Again, there was no wrongdoing.
BB: Did any of the races that the Freedonians were in have non-existent competitors, or were results changed so that the Freedonians could qualify for Sochi?
Bob: No. We checked start and results lists and everything was correct. All of the competitors were indeed real, as were the results. Another difference between Vanessa Mae and Team Freedonia was that Vanessa Mae got to compete in Sochi, while the Freedonians were mistaken for the security team. The only one who actually got to be on skis was Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli because he was assigned to the Russian biathlon team.
BB: One more thing...How will the FIS stamp out falsifying results for recreational skiers who want to compete in the Olympics? This seems to be a very big problem.
Bob: It is. We are working on it to the best of our ability. But until we can find a way to end this corruption, we at the FIS will continue to always be right.
BB: Of course the FIS will always be right. Well, Bob, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview.
Bob: It was also a pleasure talking with the Blickbild, as always.
BB: And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.
The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters don't have to falsify their CVs or compete against non-existent applicants to get their jobs. They just have to be 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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Will Vinnie "The Shark" Be Replaced as Lindsey Vonn's Bodyguard?

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Lindsey Vonn never goes anywhere without her dog Leo. He even accompanies her when she goes to the toilet. Has Leo replaced Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli as Lindsey's bodyguard? One of our intrepid reporters was dispatched to Copper Mountain, where the US Ski Team was being presented, to try and interview Lindsey, but she was not available. However, we scored a journalistic coup and ran into our favorite Mafia hit man, Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli, who was also training at Copper Mountain. We asked Vinnie about the rumours of his layoff.  Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: It's good to see you again, Vinnie. What have you been doing since the Freedonian Ski Team investigation? (see this story)
Vinnie: The Freedonian Ski Team is still alive and we are hoping to qualify for Vail. In fact, my teammates and I are here at Copper Mountain training for Vail.
BB: How will you compete in Vail when your team is under investigation?
Vinnie: Let's just say that we have ways of convincing Gian Franco Kasper and the rest of his men at the International Ski Federation (FIS) to make it happen.
BB: I'll leave your federation to sort things out with the FIS. In the meantime, our intrepid research team found out that the Freedonian Ski Team has been posing nude to raise funds for race entry fees and to go to Vail.
Vinnie: I don't know where they got their information, but we never posed nude. Team Freedonia did a photo spread in "Mafia Today" magazine right after the Olympics. We posed in ski boots and Speedos while holding our machine gun cases. Remember the photos of Lindsey Vonn in a bikini and ski boots in "Sports Illustrated" back in 2010? Our photos were like those, only we have more hair on our chests than Lindsey. That issue of "Mafia Today" set a sales record that will probably never be broken.
BB: I can imagine. No woman can resist a hot Mafia hit man in a Speedo. (short pause) There are rumours going around the ski world that you have been replaced as Lindsey Vonn's bodyguard. Are they true?
Vinnie: Who is supposed to be my replacement?
BB: Her dog Leo. 
Vinnie: Are you joking with me?
BB: Definitely not! I know better than to joke around with a Mafia enforcer. I treasure my kneecaps too much. Look at the evidence. Ever since Lindsey got Leo, she has not requested a bodyguard.
Vinnie: She also has not been traveling to races, where she will need a bodyguard. She doesn't need protection in Copper Mountain. Once she starts racing again, she will need a good bodyguard. Someone needs to keep her competitors away from her in the start area and also to shoo away those pesky kids who want her autograph after races.
BB: But Leo could do that. He is big enough to scare little kids and he looks fairly intimidating to the other ski racers. 
Vinnie: Leo might scare a few kids, but I don't think that he will scare the other athletes. He is a rather ugly dog, but the other women will still want to pet him and feed him treats.
BB: There are several things that Leo can do that you can't. 
Vinnie: Name one.
BB: He can accompany Lindsey to the bathroom and protect her from all of those unmentionable things that could happen to her in a public WC.
Vinnie: That is true. Even though Leo is male, he can go into a women's bathroom. I have a feeling that he would be more interested in figuring out which toilet to drink from than guarding Lindsey.
BB: Leo can accompany Lindsey to interviews and even sit on the couch with her.
Vinnie: I can do the same thing without climbing all over everyone and slobbering on any food or drinks that are left out.
BB: Leo was with Lindsey at the autograph session after the team was presented in Copper Mountain.
Vinnie: Leo also fell asleep by the table. I would never fall asleep on the job. When I was hired to be Lindsey's bodyguard in Schladming, I vowed to stay awake the entire two weeks of the championships. Red Bull gave me unlimited quantities of its energy drink to help me do so. (see this story)
BB: Here is something that Leo can do that you definitely can't. He can lift his leg and pee on people. 
Vinnie: Hey, I can unzip my trousers and pee on people without having to lift my leg. Anyway, if the most intimidating thing that Leo can do is pee on someone, he really is a big wimp. From what I have seen of him during Lindsey's interviews, Leo is also rather undisciplined. I doubt that he could be trained to pee on people.
BB: Leo can jump on people and hump their legs. 
Vinnie: I could technically do that too. But I am not a pervert. I could see that Leo would be hard to dislodge if he started humping someone's leg. He is a pretty big dog.
BB: Let's say Lindsey wants all of the medals in Vail like she got in Schladming. (see this story) Do you think that Leo peeing on a competitor, or humping her leg, would convince her to give her medals to Lindsey?
Vinnie: Definitely not. If someone's dog did those things to me, it would make me less inclined to give up any medals that I earned.
BB: Do you still work for Red Bull and Head?
Vinnie: Yes. I fully expect to be called to serve as Lindsey's bodyguard once she starts racing again. Remember, I can ski and Leo can't because of his bad leg, so I have an advantage over him. Remember, I was on an Olympic ski racing team.
BB: Even though the Freedonians didn't actually get to race, you were still technically on an Olympic skiing team. 
Vinnie: That's right. I will also be there to convince the other racers to give Lindsey their medals from Vail if that's what she wants. Whatever Lindsey wants, Red Bull and Head are there to get it for her.
BB: Everyone knows how records are the most important thing in the world to Lindsey. They are even more important to her than Leo, believe it or not. If she got all of the medals from Vail, combined with all of the medals from Schladming, she would set a record that nobody would be able to touch. That would be part of her legacy along with her other records. 
Vinnie: And I would be a part of helping Lindsey to break records and establish her legacy through my work with Red Bull and Head. Everyone should ignore the rumours about me being replaced because they are not true. When Lindsey goes up to Lake Louise to race, I will be there as her bodyguard.
BB: I hope you are right. Vinnie, I want to thank you for another interesting interview. It is always a pleasure to talk to you. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters don't have to pee on people or hump their legs to get a story. 

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.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ted Ligety and the Stone of Doom

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

 Last weekend in Soelden US giant slalom ace Ted Ligety finished 10th. It was an unusually poor finish for the current world champion and Olympic gold medalist in that discipline. What went wrong? It appears that Ted hit a stone as he was transitioning from the steep part of the course to the flat last section. The others have written about Ted and the stone which shattered his dream of winning the Soelden race for a fourth consecutive time. But we have our unique perspective on Ted and the Stone of Doom. One of our intrepid reporters had the chance to talk to US team trainer Sasha Rearick, who was the one to reveal the connection between Ted and the stone to the ski world. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Are you 100% certain that Ted hit a stone, which caused him to lose time in the flat section?
Rearick: Yes.
BB: How can you be so sure that Ted didn't just make an error on his own? 
Rearick: First of all, Ted is Mr. GS and never makes mistakes. Also, his ski was damaged. It looked exactly like a Great White shark took a bite out of it.
BB: Uh...maybe you missed the day in school where the teacher showed your class a map of Europe. Austria is landlocked and therefore does not have Great White sharks. 
Rearick: Maybe an Austrian mountain Yeti took a bite out of it. The point is Ted's ski was damaged, which made him lose time in the flat section.
BB: Do you have the ski or a photo of it to show our readers?
Rearick: No. We gave the ski to the Head service people immediately after the race.
BB: So the world will never know if Ted really hit a rock or a Yeti took a bite out of his ski?
Rearick: The Head service people saw the ski and said that it was damaged beyond repair, so they got rid of it. But it is more believable that he hit a rock. A Yeti would have to jump up, bite the ski, and then disappear without being seen by 15,000 spectators and the course workers. The odds of a Yeti biting Ted's ski are extremely slim.
BB: Nobody made any reports to the media about a Yeti biting Ted's ski, so in all probability he hit a rock. How come nobody else reported a rock on the course? Twenty-eight racers came down before Ted and none of them hit a rock.
Rearick: Maybe someone planted the rock on the course just before Ted's run. Marcel Hirscher was in the lead and would go next after Ted. It was Austrian National Day after all.
BB: Are you accusing a course worker of deliberately trying to sabotage Ted so that Marcel would win the race in front of his countrymen on National Day?
Rearick: I have no direct proof. But there was something out there targeting our skiers. Tim Jitloff had to hike up to make a gate and Ted had a poor second run.
BB: But Tim's mistake was on a different part of the course than Ted's. Are you implying that Tim also hit a rock but just didn't report it?
Rearick:  I am sure that is what happened. Something caused him to have a big mistake and the logical explanation was a rock. If he had a perfect run, he could have had a chance to be on the podium. Hitting a rock derailed his dream of a podium place in Soelden.
BB: Maybe he went too fast and missed the gate. Otherwise there would have to have been two rocks on the course, since Tim and Ted had errors in different places. Or there could have been one rock that moved sometime between Tim's run and Ted's. 
Rearick: That is very possible. Something was definitely conspiring against our team.
BB: A rock is an inanimate object. It does not have the capability to think up a plot against someone or move from place to place on its own. 
Rearick: Hey, this is not the first time that a rock messed with our team. In 2012 Lindsey Vonn hit a rock during a giant slalom race in Courchevel and did not finish because of it.
BB: Come on, do you really believe that there is a rock out there that travels all over Europe for the sole purpose of ruining the US skiers' races?
Rearick: Yes I do! Look at the evidence. Lindsey and Ted hit a rock. Tim possibly hit one in Soelden too, but was too shy to admit it. Ski racers from other countries don't report skiing over stones when they ski out or have a mistake. Therefore, the rock has something against our racers.
BB: As I said before, a rock cannot move by itself. How would it get from place to place?
Rearick: It is obviously some sort of magic rock. Maybe another team's witch doctor put a spell on it.
BB: So there is a magic rock that can move itself from one place to another that only targets American ski racers?
Rearick: Yes. It is stealthy like a Ninja and can camouflage itself like a chameleon, which is why the course workers don't see it. The rock strikes when we least expect it and shatters our racers' ambitions. Ted really wanted to win in Soelden four times in a row, but that rock destroyed his dream. He is traumatized!
BB:  How does this Stone of Doom get from place to place?
Rearick: It teleports itself. That's the only thing I can think of. If teleportation worked in "Star Trek," it would also work in the World Cup. Anyway, it has to be the same rock every time. I can't imagine that  more than one rock wishes to target our skiers.
BB: Let me get this straight. You are saying that there is one traveling Naughty Ninja Dream Shattering Trauma Inducing Killer Stone of Doom whose sole aim is to cause American ski racers to make mistakes, lose races, and cause long-lasting psychological trauma?
Rearick: Yes I do, though it does sound a little bit crazy when you put it that way.
BB: It certainly does. Be careful or you could end up in a psychiatric facility for the criminally insane.
Rearick: That rock is the one who belongs in an institution for the criminally insane! It is the one who is going after our skiers and traumatizing them for life by turning their dreams and skis to dust! That rock is practically a psychopathic serial killer!
BB: How can a stone be a serial killer if it has no mind of its own? The only way a stone could be a serial killer is if someone takes it and pounds his victims on the head with it. 
Rearick: You don't seem to know much about this Killer Rock. It serially kills our skiers' chances of winning races or being on the podium. It also kills their minds by traumatizing them.
BB: I don't believe that Ted is traumatized for life because he hit a rock, if that's what really happened. If every skier who had a bad race suffered lifelong mental anguish, the psychiatric hospitals would be full of ski racers. Ted admitted that he made a mistake in the transition and that Marcel would have won the race even without the error. He also said that he prefers to be in the lead and not the chaser, so he was thrown off his usual game. He did not mention anything about a rock or a Yeti  taking bites out of his ski.
Rearick: Ted has always been an excellent sport. He really needs to learn to make good excuses for why he did not win. It's the American way.
BB: I see. By the way, I believe that Ted will bounce back. He has always been very strong and determined after having a bad race. 
Rearick: I hope so. The team is back in the States to regroup. Can you imagine what would have happened if Bode Miller raced in Soelden and the Killer Stone struck him? His baby was there. That baby would have lifelong Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from seeing his father's victory stolen by a killer rock that decided to eat Bode instead of his ski. We are taking precautions in the States to ensure that the Stone of Doom stays in Europe. Head has even loaned us its famous Mafia enforcer Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli to keep the Stone of Doom away from our skiers.
BB: I'm sure that Vinne will do his usual fine job of being a bodyguard. He can even tell you about his experiences in the hospital for the criminally insane. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview, which was starting to get absurd even by our  standards. I hope that the US team regroups for its next race, that Ted comes back stronger from his defeat, and that the Killer Stone of Doom doesn't bother your team anymore. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: If our reporters used a Naughty Ninja Dream Shattering Trauma Inducing Killer Stone of Doom as an excuse for conducting a poor interview, they would end up in the nearest insane asylum.

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