Monday, July 28, 2014

CAS Decides Olympic Artistry Case

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) has finally ruled on the German Ski Federation's (DSV) protest over ski racer Stefan Luitz's bronze medal for artistic impression in Sochi. Switzerland also protested, saying that 4th place Didier Defago deserved a medal. In Sochi Austrian skier Max Franz won the gold medal, Norwegian racer Alexander Aamodt Kilde earned silver, and Luitz was awarded the bronze (see this story). Normally CAS cases are quickly resolved, but this one took over 5 months. One of our intrepid reporters scored a journalistic coup and was able to speak with one of the judges after the decision was made. Because this judge rules on cases in various sports, he does not want to have his identity revealed and asked to be called Frank. Let's find out what Frank has to say.

BB: Did the Germans and Swiss win their protest?
Frank: The German and Swiss protests each had two parts. Germany protested about Luitz receiving bronze when the DSV felt that he should have earned the gold medal. Switzerland was protesting Defago's 4th place finish. The Swiss felt that he should have earned a medal. Both Germany and Switzerland contended that there was collusion between the Austrian head judges and the other judges in the  men's giant slalom and super-combined events (see this story).
BB: So what was the outcome?
Frank: After a long review of the evidence, the CAS decided to award the gold medal for artistry to Stefan Luitz. Alexander Aamodt Kilde would keep his silver medal, and Didier Defago would get the bronze medal.
BB: What about Max Franz? He did some beautiful one ski work and his performance seemed to be medal-worthy. He achieved a flying camel position on one ski, which showed originality and grace (see this video).
Frank: It was a tough call. But Max's hand touched the ground, which is the equivalent of a fall. If he didn't touch the ground, he could have easily won the gold medal. But he was evidently not given the full deduction for a fall when his hand touched the ground.
BB: I see. Is this one of the reasons why Germany and Switzerland protested the original result?
Frank: Yes. In fact, it turned out that the draw for head judges for the Olympic events was rigged so that an Austrian would draw multiple events. The odds were over in in 10,000 for Austria to have head judges in two Olympic events, yet it happened. We found out that the Austrian Ski Federation (OeSV) did everything in its power to ensure that Austria won the most medals in Sochi. The Austrians were embarassed at the Vancouver Olympics and also at the last World Championships because the USA won more gold medals than they did. At the last moment they emptied the box with the names of potential head judges and replaced the papers with the names of Austrians.
BB: How did they do that? I thought that the box was heavily guarded.
Frank: The guards were Russian soldiers. A delegation from Austria gave the soldiers some bottles of vodka to thank them for their guard duty. After a few shots of vodka, the guards easily gave up the box.
BB: How did you figure this out?
Frank: The CAS has ways of getting confessions. We don't need Mafia hit men or voodoo doctors because we have our own methods, which shall remain secret. Not even your reporters are intrepid enough to figure out how we get people to confess their wrongdoings.
BB: Nobody is as intrepid as our reporters! We have the most intrepid reporters in the business! Given enough time, we would find a way to gain access to your secrets. (short pause) In addition to stuffing the box with the names of Austrian judges, what other cheating was going on? We have heard rumours of judges being threatened with voodoo curses and Mafia enforcers. Are they true?
Frank: Unfortunately, they are just rumours. But suffice it to say that money changed hands in exchange for giving Austrian ski racers higher artistry scores and skiers from other countries lower ones.
BB: Was Max Franz being stripped of his medal a punishment for the sins of his federation?
Frank: The CAS is neutral and we looked at all of the evidence before making the decision to strip Max Franz of his medal. If we decided to punish the athletes for their federation's wrongdoing, we would have stripped all of the Austrian ski racers of their medals. But the real reason Max Franz was stripped of his medal was because the proper deductions for his slip were not taken. Even with his artistry bonus, it was not enough for a medal. He should have finished in 4th place because of his execution deductions, which outweighed the artistry and originality bonuses.
BB: I understand. Normally the CAS decides cases and protests very quickly. But it took almost 6 months to come to a decision and change the order of medal winners. Why did it take so long?
Frank: It was the Austrians' fault.
BB: Because they stuffed the box for the head judge draw? That seems a bit far fetched.
Frank: We must look at all of the evidence before making our decisions. The Austrians posted the video of Max Franz for all to see. But there are no videos on YouTube of Luitz, Defago, or Kilde in their disputed Olympic races. It seems that the Austrians decided to prevent those videos from being posted. It took a long time to find videos of the Olympic races so that we could review them.
BB: Are you saying that Austria tried to block your investigation?
Frank: It certainly looks that way. They obviously did not want public opinion to be swayed by having all of the videos easily available for anyone to view. But it made our job at the CAS more difficult.
BB: Do you have proof that Austria conspired to keep the videos of Defago, Luitz, and Kilde from public view?
Frank: We don't have any direct evidence, but it is very suspicious that only Max Franz's performance is available for all to see.
BB: Is that the only reason it took so long to arrive at your decision?
Frank: No. In order to be fair to all of the racers involved, the CAS judges who ruled on this case also had to memorize the FIS's Big Book of Rules and learn all about execution and artistry points and deductions (see this story). In addition, we took the same course that an FIS artistry judge would take and even took the judging exam. If the FIS needs new artistry judges for ski races, we are certified for that job.
BB: Will the OeSV be penalized for its wrongdoing in Sochi?
Frank: Oh yes! For the 2014/15 season Austria will not be allowed to have any judges on artistry panels. This includes regular judges and head judges. Austria will also be forbidden from having any artistry judges at the Vail World Championships.
BB: Will any of the other judges from Sochi be punished?
Frank: They will be on probationary status. If they allow themselves to be influenced by head judges in any future competitions, they will be permanently suspended. We decided to be lenient with them because it turns out they were forced to accept the money under duress from the Austrian head judges to ensure a gold medal for Max Franz. They were threatened with the loss of their jobs and families if they didn't take the money.
BB: Will Austria have a curse on it this season like Sweden had last season?
Frank: No. Austria did not kidnap an opposing team's witch doctor like Sweden did in Schladming. We thought about having a witch doctor put a curse on Austria, but their ski racers are so strong they can easily defeat any curse that comes their way. The other racers had nothing to do with Max Franz getting a gold medal, so they should not be punished.
BB: We shall see what happens during the regular season and at the World Championships. Hopefully the judges from the other countries will be neutral and do their jobs properly. Well, it looks like we are out of time. Frank, I want to thank you for this interview. It was very enlightening. Maybe we will even see you as an artistry judge in the future. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: If our reporters don't do their jobs, we give them the full deduction for lack of intrepidness.

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, July 20, 2014

Freedonia Ski Federation Officials Suspended

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Four Slovenian officials were suspended after it was disclosed that they falsified race results so that Thai violinist Vanessa Mae could qualify for the 2014 Olympics. In addition to being in races with non-existent competitors, Vanessa Mae also competed in a junior championship race at age 35. This is old news that the others have already reported. What the others have not reported is that the International Ski Federation (FIS) is widening its investigation and has found some curious results for the men who qualified for the Freedonian Olympic ski team, including Red Bull/HEAD Mafia enforcer Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli (see this story).  As a result, the whole Freedonian Ski Federation has been suspended. Our contact at the FIS, Bob, is working on this matter but he had some time to talk to one of our intrepid reporters. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: It looks like the FIS has finally given you some real work to do. How did you get involved in this investigation?
Bob: I got lucky. One of the original investigators needed a heart procedure and was ordered to rest for two to three months. At the time the investigation started, I didn't have much work to do, so I was asked to join the team. I must say, our team of investigators is as intrepid as your researchers.
BB: Let's not go that far. Nobody is as intrepid as the Blickbild's reporters and research team. Your team may come close, but it will never equal ours! (short pause) The ski world knows about the four Slovenian officials being suspended due to falsifying results so that Vanessa Mae could qualify for the Olympics. What made the FIS decide to expand its investigation?
Bob: We found some irregularities with the team from Freedonia.
BB: Was it the same situation as in Slovenia, where non-existent racers got results?
Bob:  All of the competitors in the races that the Freedonians submitted for Olympic qualification were real as were their placements. That was not the main issue with Team Freedonia that was a red flag for us.
BB: Then what set off alarm bells at the FIS?
Bob: The races that the men competed in. For example, Vinnie Razzovelli won his first race. That was quite remarkable for someone who had just learned how to ski. Then we saw that he competed in his ski school's beginner class race. He placed first in the adult male division. He also competed in other novice races and had placed well in all of them.
BB: When I interviewed him last winter, he said that he did very well in all of his races and was easily able to earn the required 140 points to qualify for the Olympics.
Bob: He did quite well in his races, especially for a beginner. Others on the Freedonian team also competed in races that were part of company outings or other local novice races. Yet they somehow earned FIS points for competing in those races.
BB: They also managed to earn 140 points and a place on the Freedonian Olympic team.
Bob: They did, but not in the same way that racers from countries like Ethiopia or Fiji qualified. For example, Giovanni "The Hammer" Maggio, another Freedonian Olympian, has a son named Fabrizio who is a promising young ski racer. It turned out that Fabrizio competed under his father's name until he earned 140 points.  He is 12 years old and only supposed to compete in U14 races. But somehow young Fabrizio was in adult races competing as Giovanni. Either that or Giovanni is a very small adult. Lorenzo "The Razor" Dinova, the Freedonian flag bearer, competed in the Albanian junior ski championships even though he is 37 years old. I guess he figured that if Fabrizio Maggio could compete in adult races, he could participate in junior ones.
BB: Wasn't anyone at the FIS suspicious because none of the Freedonian racers competed in World, Europa, or Nor-Am Cup races?
Bob: Not really. A lot of the novelty racers at the Olympics don't compete at the World, Europa, or Nor-Am Cup levels. They do enough FIS races to get their points and qualify for the Olympics.
BB: So how did the Freedonians slip through the cracks?
Bob: There are a lot of amateur racers who try to qualify for the Olympics. It is hard to keep track of every one. We have a lot of FIS races. Even with our computers, it is hard to keep track of who participated in real FIS races and who didn't. We also have a lot of points to calculate. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is also at fault because it wants as many countries as possible to compete at the Olympics.
BB: I see. How will this investigation affect amateur ski racers who want to compete in the Vail World Championships or the next Olympics?
Bob: We will keep better track of the types of races that athletes are competing in to qualify. Only athletes who compete in real FIS races will be eligible to earn Olympic qualification points. No more ski school or company outing races will be used to earn FIS points.
BB: The situation with the Freedonian team was different than Vanessa Mae's because she actually got to compete. None of the Freedonian racers actually competed in the Olympic ski races because the Russians thought that they were part of the security detail. They were immediately put to work in security, though Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli worked with a biathlon team and got to ski and carry a gun. 
Bob: That is true. But we still need to let Freedonia know that if its racers want to be in the Olympics, they need to qualify the proper way.
BB: I know that the FIS is all about following rules. That is why racers get disqualified when their skis are 0.000000001 millimeter too long or wide.
Bob: That's right. While safety is very important to us at the FIS, following the rules to the letter is also a big priority for us.
BB: One more thing. Do you or any of your colleagues at the FIS realize that Freedonia is not a real country? It is a fictional nation from the 1933 movie Duck Soup. 
Bob: That can't be!  We are getting applications from ski racers from The Shire, Narnia, and Westeros for next February's World Championships. Are you going to tell me that they are also not real countries?
BB: They are all fictional places. Don't you or your colleagues ever read or look at a world map?
Bob: We are very busy at the FIS coming up with new rules for the athletes and different ways to confuse the fans. Of course we are also doing our best to boost our TV ratings, which are very important to us. Safety is very important to the FIS, but so are TV ratings. In other words, we have no time to read or look at maps.
BB: I realize that you want more countries participating in the World Championships, and the IOC wants more countries at the Olympics, but they should probably be real ones. How can the FIS suspend officials from a country that does not exist except in an old Marx Brothers movie?
Bob: We have to punish someone for letting the Freedonians qualify for the Olympics. After all, the FIS cannot admit to having a flawed qualification procedure because we are always right.
BB: Be careful because you don't want to wake up to a horse's head in your bed one morning. The Freedonian Olympic team was solely composed of Mafia enforcers. You don't want to anger them if you treasure your kneecaps. 
Bob: It looks like we need to find a way to figure out which countries are real and which ones aren't before the next World Championships. Or else we will end up with another Freedonia situation.
BB: Good luck with that. Hopefully we will only see athletes from real countries at the World Championships next February. Well it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for taking the time to give us another interesting interview. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All of our reporters and researchers come from real countries except for the one from the land of Oz. 
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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dr. Mabongo Wins Witch Doctor of the Year Award

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
Dr. Mabongo, the German Women's Ski Team's witch doctor, won the prestigious Dave Seville* Award for Witch Doctor of the Year. He was presented with his award at a ceremony at Concordia University** in Montreal, Canada. Almost immediately after receiving his award, Facebook and Twitter erupted with posts criticizing Dr. Mabongo's award. Most people felt that he only won the award as a consolation prize for recently retired German superstar ski racer Maria Hoefl-Riesch placing second in the overall World Cup standings and getting injured during the first race of finals. Our intrepid research team analyzed all five nominees and we will present their findings. Let's find out what they have to say. The nominees are presented in alphabetical order.

1. Nana Kwaku Bonsam (Ghana): Dr. Bonsam was the witch doctor who put a curse on Portuguese football (soccer) player Christiano Ronaldo. Before the recent football World Cup, Ronaldo had a recurring injury, which Dr. Bonsam claimed to have caused. Cursing Ronaldo was basically cursing the whole Portuguese team. Because of Dr. Bonsam's curse, Portugal did not make it past the group stage of the World Cup and Ronaldo did not play up to his usual standard. On the minus side, the curse agains Portugal did not help Ghana in the World Cup. Ghana also did not make it out of the group stage. Dr. Bonsam has been hired by HEAD and will work with ski racers who use HEAD equipment.

2. Dr. Patrice Frederick Djibuku (Congo): Dr. Djibuku is the French Men's Ski Team's witch doctor. He was also nominated for the Dave Seville Award last year after his last minute heroics resulted in French ski racer Gauthier de Tessieres winning a silver medal at the World Championships. This past season Dr. Djibuku was also a favorite for the Dave Seville Award. French star Alexis Pinturault was third in both the World Cup overall and giant slalom standings and won a bronze medal at the Sochi Olympics. In addition, he tied for the most points in the super-combined standings. Pinturault's teammate Steve Missillier won a silver medal in Sochi. Pinturault won his first speed race, the World Cup finals Super-G, and teammate Thomas Mermillod-Blondin was second in that race. Dr. Djibuku also started the season in great form, with 9 men qualifying for the second run in the season opener in Soelden. However, the French men were not consistent last season, which worked against Dr. Djibuku.

3. Bela Guttmann (Hungary): Mr. Guttmann, who died in 1981, is our only posthumous nominee. Even though he was not a real witch doctor, his 100-year curse is a life's dream for every witch doctor today. Guttmann was a former football player and coach. As a trainer he led his teams to three Portuguese league titles and also won the European Cup with Benfica for two years in a row. After winning his second European Cup title in 1962, Guttmann asked for a pay raise and was turned down. He resigned and put a curse on Benfica, saying, "Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion." Benfica has been in 8 European football finals since 1962 and has lost all of them, the most recent being last May's Europa League final, when Benfica lost to Sevilla on penalties. After 52 years, Guttman's curse is still going strong and even prayers at his grave have failed to lift it.

4. Ante Kostelic (Croatia): Mr. Kostelic is the Croatian national ski team trainer and, like Bela Guttmann, is not a real witch doctor. But many athletes who race on his slalom courses claim that they are bewitched. At the Sochi Olympics Kostelic set the slalom course in the men's super-combined race and the second run of the men's slalom. A large percentage of the athletes in both of those races failed to finish on Kostelic's slalom courses. Kostelic tied for a bronze medal in Sochi for best witch doctor because of his course settings that vexed even the best slalom specialists. Slovak ski racer Adam Zampa was the master of Kostelic's courses in Sochi and tied for the witch doctoring bronze medal. However, it was later revealed that Zampa has no special witch doctoring powers that gave him the advantage. He trains with Ante and his son Ivica.

5. Robert David Louis Mabongo (Congo): Dr. Mabongo is the German Women's Ski Team witch doctor, though he will be working with the men this coming season. Using his potions, Maria Hoefl-Riesch won the downhill globe and was second in the overall standings. Hoefl-Riesch also won a gold and a silver medal in Sochi and was the only ski racer, male or female, to defend a gold medal from 2010. In addition, she finished in the top 5 in three other disciplines in the World Cup: slalom (5th), Super-G (5th), and super-combined (3rd). Her teammate Viktoria Rebensburg won a bronze medal in Sochi. But there are some strikes against Dr. Mabongo, which is why he has been criticized for winning the Dave Seville Award. First of all, Rebensburg was ill with a lung infection for much of the season. It turned out that her illness was caused by a curse from an opposing witch doctor that Dr. Mabongo was unable to counteract. Maria Hoefl-Riesch also got injured at World Cup finals, which forced her to withdraw after winning the downhill globe. The biggest criticism of Dr. Mabongo was that he was supposed to have put a curse on Sweden as a punishment for kidnapping him during last year's World Championships. However, Swedish skiers won two races last season, which led many to believe that Dr. Mabongo's powers are fading.

So dear readers, which one of the five nominees do you think deserved the Dave Seville Award?

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive story.
The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters always win awards for being 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.
* Dave Seville was the singer of the hit song "Witch Doctor" with Alvin and the Chipmunks
** Home of Canada's famous witch doctoring program.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

HEAD Plans World (Cup) Domination

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

It seems like almost every ski racer in the World Cup is switching to HEAD skis. Now it seems that HEAD is not only trying to get all of the World Cup racers to switch to its equipment, it is now adding more witch doctors to its roster. While national ski teams are struggling with visa restrictions, HEAD seems to attract and sign the world's top witch doctors. Is obtaining a top witch doctor part of a larger and more sinister plan? One of our intrepid researchers worked undercover at HEAD to learn its plans for total domination of the World Cup. What he found was shocking and surprising to say the least. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: How long were you working undercover at HEAD?
Researcher: Close to two years.
BB: What did you do there?
Researcher: I would rather not say. Between all of the Mafia hit men and witch doctors on HEAD's payroll, I would be a dead man if the wrong people found out that I was an investigative researcher for the Blickbild. I can't be very intrepid if I am dead.
BB: That is true. We are part of the most intrepid research and reporting team in the business. (short pause) Some big name skiers have switched to HEAD in the off-season, notably Alexis Pinturault and Elena Curtoni. What is it about HEAD that is making so many ski racers switch? Is is just the money?
Researcher: Money is of course one factor. But every ski firm can offer the athletes good money. HEAD has extras that the others can't offer, like personal witch doctors.
BB: Many of the ski teams already have witch doctors. 
Researcher: Yes, but the athletes have to share the witch doctors with their teammates. If a ski racer switches to HEAD, he or she can have his or her own personal witch doctor. It is part of HEAD's service package.
BB: Wait a minute! The Congo has stopped issuing witch doctor visas for ski teams. How is HEAD getting around the visa embargo?
Researcher: HEAD has a research team whose job is to find other countries with witch doctors and convince them to issue visas. Of course HEAD's researchers are not as intrepid as the Blickbild's.
BB: Of course they aren't. What other countries are supplying HEAD with witch doctors?
Researcher: Ghana is one of the main ones. In fact, HEAD just signed the top witch doctor in Ghana, Nana Kwaku Bonsam. He was the witch doctor who put a curse on Portuguese football player Cristiano Ronaldo. (see this article) There are also other African countries like Malawi, Niger, the Gambia, and Burkina Faso with a lot of witch doctors. Some Pacific Island countries also have witch doctors.
BB: How did HEAD get Nana Kwaku Bonsam away from Ghana? I'm sure that he must be a national hero after putting a curse on Cristiano Ronaldo. 
Researcher: He is a hero because Portugal did not make it out of the group stages in the football World Cup, plus his curse caused Ronaldo's injuries this past season. But evidently he could not find all of the supplies that he needs for his potions in Ghana. Part of the deal with HEAD is that HEAD will supply Dr. Bonsam with everything he needs so that he can work his magic.
BB: Nana Kwaku Bonsam is obviously a hot commodity. Weren't ski teams bidding to have him? Imagine how powerful a ski team would be with the top witch doctor in Ghana!
Researcher: That is true. Some teams were bidding to get Dr. Bonsam, but HEAD made the best offer.
BB: I see. If each skier who races with HEAD skis gets his or her own witch doctor, who will be assigned to Dr. Bonsam? 
Researcher: I would imagine one of HEAD's top World Cup Rebels like Lindsey Vonn or Aksel Lund Svindal. We will have to find out when racing season starts.
BB: Has HEAD been bidding for Germany's Dr. Mabongo or France's Dr. Djibuku?
Researcher: Yes. So far both are holding out for staying with their national teams. But HEAD will get them one day. It's only a matter of time.
BB: About the name World Cup Rebels....wouldn't World Cup Sheep or World Cup Lemmings be a better name for ski racers who switch to HEAD? 
Researcher: Those would be much better names. If the majority of racers is using HEAD skis, they are no longer rebels. The real rebels are those who refuse to join the HEAD team. In fact, HEAD is not only planning World Cup domination, it is planning total world domination.
BB: Hold on here! It's an awfully big jump from having most of the athletes in the World Cup using your products to taking over the whole world. 
Researcher: As they say, Rome was not build in a day. First HEAD dominated the market for tennis equipment. Now it wants to be the only firm to supply skis and boots for World Cup ski racers. When that phase is completed, then HEAD will keep moving on until the only products for sale anywhere will be made by them. There will even be HEAD brand diapers for babies to get them started early.
BB: That sounds like the old East Bloc, where everyone in Poland used Ludwik laundry soap or drank Sovyetskoyoe Shampanskoye. 
Researcher: Exactly. Just like in the old Soviet Bloc, there will be only one brand of everything, and that brand will be HEAD.
BB: How will HEAD get the money to fund its world takeover? It is very expensive to drive away competition and become the dominant, and eventually only, brand on the market.
Researcher: As everyone knows, HEAD has quite a few Mafia enforcers on its payroll. Ski racers not only can have a private witch doctor, they can also have a personal Mafia hit man when they are part of the HEAD team. There is no better way to eliminate the competition than the combination of Mafia persuasion and a witch doctor's curse. Anyway, the Mafia hit men need a place to launder their money. What better place than a well-known sporting goods firm?
BB: They really have it all planned out. How do you know all about HEAD's plans for total world domination?
Researcher: Let's just say that I had access to various papers, reports, and memos when I worked for HEAD.
BB: Is there a target date for HEAD dominating the world?
Researcher: Just like the old Soviet Union, HEAD has multi-year plans and goals to fulfill them. It will be a step-by-step process that should go unnoticed by the general public until it is too late to stop them. Even the Blickbild will cease to exist, replaced by the HEAD Times.
BB: Hopefully the Blickbild will be the last thing that gets taken over. In the meantime, I want to thank you for this enlightening interview. You have shown our readers why we have the most intrepid journalism team in the business. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Nobody can replace the Blickbild.

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.