Friday, January 30, 2015

Kitzbuehel, St. Moritz, and Schladming Wrap-Up

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

There was a lot of action from last Friday through Tuesday. OK, the fans were really disappointed by most of the races last weekend. We got lots of letters, e-mails, and tweets about how bad the races were. Because we never want to ignore our fans, we turned everything over to our Answer Man, who is really a member of our intrepid research team. Here are some of the questions and comments we got about the races in Kitzbuehel, St. Moritz, and Schladming. Let's find out what the Answer Man has to say...

Question: Why did the Alpine combined in Kitzbuehel only have 27 starters in the 2nd run?
Answer Man: The official answer was that the first part of the combined race had an early afternoon instead of a morning start time. The second run had to start 3 hours later to allow for course setting and inspection. Many of the speed specialists wanted to rest for the next day's downhill race, though in hindsight they could have competed in the slalom leg and had plenty of strength and energy for the downhill. The real answer is that the field for the second run was limited to 30 so that everyone would get points. The American representative on the race jury said that those who could not finish in the top 30 would feel bad about themselves and suffer lifelong trauma. The field was limited so that everyone who finished the two legs of the race would get World Cup points. You may be wondering, doesn't an Austrian committee oversee the race? Yes, that's true. But the US representative was able to override both the Kitzbuehel race committee and the FIS race jury.
Question:  I saw "Streif: One Hell of A Ride" and the downhill in Kitzbuehel on Saturday was nothing like in the movie. Was the movie real, or was it really a bunch of Hollywood special effects?
Answer Man: The movie was indeed real. Unfortunately, the race had to be severely shortened because of stubborn fog on the course that refused to clear up. By the time the race finally started, it was too late to do a two-run downhill, so a sprint had to suffice. Well, a second run probably could have been held. But it would have been dark and the athletes would have stopped to ask for directions to the finish line. That would be even more boring than a sprint downhill. Hopefully the Hahnenkamm downhill will be more like the movie next year.
Question:  Does Kjetil Jansrud really deserve his own gondola after winning the Kitz DH? After all, it was a sprint. Shouldn't he get a t-bar with his name on it instead?
Answer Man: This year's Hahnenkamm downhill was big bust because it started halfway down the course. It was barely longer than a typical slalom run. If you blinked your eyes, you missed the racer on course. But look at it this way. An Olympic sprinter and marathon runner both get gold medals. The sprinter doesn't get half a medal because he ran a shorter distance. Kjetil will get a gondola, and not a t-bar or a seat cushion on a chair lift, just like any other winner in Kitzbuehel.
Question:  Lindsey Vonn was 23rd in the St. Moritz downhill race and used the excuse of the course being too easy for her poor showing. That has to be the weirdest excuse I ever heard.
Answer Man: You are not alone. We thought we heard every excuse in the book, but that was a new one for us too. She actually had a trifecta of excuses: wind, inner ski hit something, and the course being simple. Who knows...many of us tend to concentrate more when something is difficult. Lindsey probably just decided not to concentrate on the course because she felt it was so easy. Here is what I think. She and her publicists have to keep coming up with new and different excuses when she doesn't win because the old ones are getting boring. Belly aches? Depression? Wind? Ninja stones? Yawn! If ski racing is going to ever interest more than 0.01% of the US population, especially during the run-up to the Super Bowl, the excuses for losing need to be more and more outrageous to keep people's attention.
Question:  Why was the St. Moritz downhill course so boring? The top part was something that my kid could ski on after 2 lessons. Even the rest of the course looked very easy with only one tricky turn. Why are most women's downhill races so boring now?
Answer Man: I agree that St. Moritz was a downhill race that was made for big gliders, even though the smallest woman in the World Cup won it. The top part was so flat that the women could not even get out of the start house on their own. They were shot out by a special catapult, which was the only excitement of the race. Because Lara Gut was so tiny, she was able to be catapulted out the furthest and didn't have to stay as long on the flat section as the bigger women. That helped to literally propel her to victory. As to the second part of the question, it is a comfort thing. If downhill races are on easy gliding courses, the same people will carry on winning them. Scientific studies have proven that people feel more comfortable when the outcome of a race is pre-determined. People don't want suspense, they want predictability. The FIS is just giving the fans what they want.
Question: Did Ante Kostelic set the course for the women's Super-G in St. Moritz? If not, then what is the difference between the course setting for the St. Moritz DH and Ante Kostelic's slalom settings at the Sochi Olymics?
Answer Man: No, the Super-G was set by the Austrian trainer, though you'd never know it by the number of Austrians who had trouble on that course. There wasn't really much of a difference because both courses had an extremely high DNF rate, despite what others might say. It turns out that the Austrian trainer who set the St. Moritz course went to a special course setting seminar taught by Ante Kostelic. Ante taught him how to set creative courses that challenge the athletes' technical skill and ability to think and make adjustments at high speeds.
Question: Will Austria fire its coaching staff since there were no Austrians on the podium in either the Kitzbuehel downhill or the Schladming slalom races?
Answer Man: No, but there will be some athletes spending their summer holiday time in the salt mines outside of Salzburg instead of on the beach. The Austrian press and public are very unforgiving and nothing short of a stint in the salt mines will satisfy them.
Question: Why didn't Alexander Khoroshilov smile after winning the Schladming slalom? You'd think he would have been thrilled to win his first WC race.
Answer Man: He's Russian. When was the last time you saw a Russian smile? The real answer is that Alexander became friends with Swiss star Carlo Janka. Carlo's nickname is "Iceman" because of his cool, almost stoic demeanor. It turned out that Alexander and Carlo decided to have a competition to see who could be the coolest after winning a race. Alexander won hands down, though if you looked hard enough, you could see him barely cracking a smile.
Question:  How do Dr. Mabongo and new German men's trainer Mathias Berthold get along? Berthold is Austrian and doesn't believe in witch doctors and Dr. Mabongo is a witch doctor.
Answer Man: The German men have really improved this season with Berthold at the helm and with Dr. Mabongo coming over from the women's team. Even though Stefan Luitz got injured early in the season, right after getting his first podium finish, Linus Strasser has come on strong. Some of the young German speed racers are also showing promise. Berthold and Dr. Mabongo didn't get along at first because Berthold never worked with a witch doctor. Austrian racers have always been so good, the OeSV never needed team witch doctors. In fact, Berthold refused to work with Dr. Mabongo. But Fritz Dopfer saved the day and said that Dr. Mabongo inspired him to victory over Canada to give Germany a bronze medal in the 2013 World Championships team event. Berthold and Dr. Mabongo now get along very well because Berthold handles the physical training and Dr. Mabongo brews his potions and helps with mental training. Judging from Germany's results this season, Berthold and Dr. Mabongo are the perfect combination.
Question:  Is Dr. Mabongo going to win the Dave Seville Award again this year?
Answer Man: Does the FIFA Ballon d'Or award go to either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo every year? This season Dr. Mabongo would be especially deserving because of how the German men are doing this season. We will have to wait until the end of the season to find out, but Dr. Mabongo seems to be the heavy favorite for the 2015 Seville Award.

Well, that is all the time we have for your questions. Keep on submitting them to us and we will answer them. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive story.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: If your question didn't get answered this time, keep trying. After all, it took Matthias Hargin 90 tries before he won his first World Cup race.

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, January 22, 2015

Slovenia Invasion Force Still Missing

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Everyone else is talking about how Lindsey Vonn broke Annemarie Moser-Proell's record for World Cup wins. Since that subject has been beaten not just to death, but beyond decomposition, we are avoiding it like we would standing downwind from a sauerkraut eaters' convention. We will stick to the stories that nobody else dares to report. Eighteen months ago, the first wave of Kildow's Army, fans of Ms. Vonn sent to invade Slovenia, ended up in Moscow's infamous Lubyanka prison. They thought they were in Ljubljana. Kildow's Army attempted to invade Slovenia in order to force Tina Maze to give Ms. Vonn her points and globes from the 2013 season or  $1 million per person. The last anyone heard from them, they were put on a train to Siberia. (see this story) We sent one of our intrepid reporters to Moscow to see what he could find out. He managed to score an interview with two people who are working together to solve this mystery: Russian Border Guard Ivan Sergeyevich Semyonov and former Schladming police chief and current FIS crime consultant Hermann Mayer. Let's find out what they have to say. 

BB: Major Semyonov, were you one of the last people to see the invaders before they got on the train?
Semyonov: Yes. I took them to the Central Station and watched as they got on the train.
BB: One train for 25,000 people doesn't sound like it would be sufficient.
Semyonov: It was a special train with 100 cars that is part of the Trans Siberian Express which is used for the Gulag Experience tours.
BB: I see. That works out to 250 people per car, which seems awfully crowded.
Semyonov: That is part of the experience. We want people on the tour to get the full experience of what it was like to be sent to the Gulag. They take the train to Khabharovsk, then take a smaller local train to the actual labor camp. There were a lot of prisoners in a train car in Soviet times and they didn't have the choice of luxury seating.
BB: Did they ever make it to Khabharovsk?
Semyonov: That's the strange thing. We alerted the railway workers in Khabharovsk to prepare for an extremely large tour group and told them when the invaders should arrive. But they never made it.
BB: You said that the train was part of the Trans Siberian Express. Are people allowed to get on and off the train?
Semyonov: Of course. They can get on or off at any station along the way. But they were told to stay on the train for six days until it got to its final destination, which was Khabharovsk.
BB: Did the train make it to Khabharovsk?
Semyonov: Yes it did. Russian Railways tracked the train the full six days. It stopped at each station precisely on time and left on schedule. So we know that the train wasn't hijacked or going the wrong direction. Yet when it arrived in Khabharovsk the only people on board were the engineer, the conductors, and some Russians who were on their way to Vladivostok.
BB: That is very strange indeed. Anyway, Herr Mayer, how did you get called in to work on this case?
Mayer: I was called to work this case along with my faithful bloodhound Fido because it indirectly involves ski racers. Even though Ms. Vonn is no longer interested in Tina's globes from 2013, we still have to resolve the case and find out what happened to the missing people. Even though Lindsey now has broken Annemarie Moser-Proell's record, she is still upset that she wasn't the first woman to break the 2,000 point mark and may never get the points record.
BB: I can see how one person can go missing, but 25,000?
Mayer: It appears that our friends in the Russian Border Guards weren't doing their jobs.
Semyonov: Wait a minute! I can see that my colleagues may have slacked off when they let all of those people into Russia. But it was Russian Railways employees who somehow let those invaders get away. I got a special commendation for getting them out of Moscow. This is a much tougher mystery to solve than a little girl losing her mittens.
Mayer: Let's leave Elke Dorfkeller out of this discussion. She got her mittens back, unlike the poor families of the missing invaders who are wondering about their loved ones.
BB: Time out! You are supposed to be working together on this case. After all, Herr Mayer did find Germany's missing witch doctor in Schladming (see this story).
Semyonov: From what I heard, it was the dog who really found the witch doctor.
Mayer: Fido and I work together as a team.
Semyonov: Is that why he ran away from the Swedish warehouse that blew up? (see this story).
BB: I need to defend Fido on that one. I had surstroemming and can still taste it. Eating surstroemming is something a non-Swede can never forget. But let's get back to the missing people. Do you have any leads?
Semyonov: Russia is a very big country. Finding so many people who cannot read a map makes the job more challenging. There are vast forests where they could have been hiding all of this time or they could be in the mountains. I believe that they are somewhere in Russia because our Border Guards would have found them otherwise.
Mayer: I heard rumours that they were were in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and even Thailand. If your Border Guards didn't notice them all coming into Russia, how would they notice all of them leaving?
Semyonov: It was the summer holiday season! The number of visitors to Moscow naturally increases.
BB: Halt! This arguing is not helping to figure out how 25,000 people disappeared from a train. It would seem like the most plausible explanation was that they got off the train early and are in one of the big cities on the Trans Siberian Express line. 
Mayer: If Fido and I were called in earlier to work on this case, we could have solved it. Fido is very good at finding people.
Semyonov: Come on! Do you really think that your dog can run all over Russia looking for the invaders?
Mayer: Yes.
Semyonov: You really are delusional! Russia is a much bigger country than Austria. Maybe your dog could run across Austria, but he would die before he could make it one-eighth of the way across Russia.
BB: Stop it, you two! You are worse than children. The invasion force is either lost, living  somewhere, or dead. 
Semyonov: I'm going with lost since they ended up in the Lubyanka instead of Ljubljana to begin with. My friends at the FSS have also not heard of a large number of new foreign residents being registered anywhere.
Mayer: I believe that they were abducted by space aliens from the train. Since their map reading skills were beyond poor, I can't believe that they would have gotten off at separate stations and arranged to meet at a specific point. Therefore, the only other likely explanation is that they were abducted by aliens.
BB: If they were abducted by space aliens, why them and not the train workers or the Russian passengers?
Mayer: Maybe the aliens don't like Russians.
Semyonov: You seem to be the one who doesn't like Russians because you have been very critical of our investigation. Yet the best thing you could come up with is that Kildow's Army was abducted by space aliens. How did you ever make it to working as a consultant for the FIS?
Mayer: I could ask you how you ever made it to the rank of major!
BB: Arretez!  Basta! We may never know what happened to them. They may be hiding somewhere in Russia, in another country, or on the planet Zorkon, and may even prefer that they are never found. Until one of them emerges, or is found dead, this will remain an eternal mystery. Why don't you actually spend your time and energy looking for them or accept that they may never be found.
Semyonov: You are right. They could be hiding in plain sight. If they had military training, they would know how to live off the land and blend in with the local people. Their leader was a colonel.
BB: Yes he was. He may have worn a tin foil hat, but he was still a colonel. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview. It helped our readers understand how  crime solvers from different countries really work together. I hope that you two can resolve your differences and work cooperatively to solve this mystery. Our readers really want to know what happened to the 25,000 brave souls of Kildow's Army.  And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters would never go missing. They know that they have a great gig with us. 

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, January 15, 2015

Two Years Old

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The Boston Blickbild will be two years old on Saturday. For the past two years our intrepid reporters have brought you, dear readers, the stories that nobody else dared to print. We are the only site that parodies World Cup Alpine skiing. Just like everything else in life, we found that there are a lot of things to satirize with both the racers and the International Ski Federation. We have experienced mostly positive reactions from the athletes and fans to our stories. Let's take a look back over the past two years.

Our Athlete Profiles. We have done several athlete profiles in the past two years. Our first one was Fritz Dopfer and our most recent was Travis Ganong. Between Fritz and Travis, we have done special profiles on the following racers: Aksel Lund Svindal, Julia Mancuso, Ted Ligety, Henrik Kristoffersen,  Max Franz, and Frida Hansdotter.

Our Interviews With the Racers. The following athletes not mentioned above have been interviewed by our intrepid reporters at least once: Lindsey Vonn, Carlo Janka, Silvan Zurbriggen, Didier Defago, Marc Gisin, Regina Sterz, Anna Fenninger, Lizz Goergl, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Lena Duerr, Marcel Hirscher, Mikaela Shiffrin, Bode Miller, Ivica Kostelic, Sarka Strachova, Kjetil Jansrud, Gauthier de Tessieres, Marlies Schild, Benjamin Raich, Martina Schild, Hermann Maier, Chemmy Alcott, Alexis Pinturault, and Sarah Schleper.

Interview With Others. We have interviewed fans, FIS officials, ski federation officials, trainers, psychologists, ski instructors, police officials, actors who play policemen in bad German TV police shows, Mafia enforcers, witch doctors, and Russian border guards.

Our Recurring Characters. Bob from the FIS, Hermann Mayer the former police chief of Schladming and now crime consultant to the FIS, Herr Mayer's dog Fido, Marcel Hirscher's former guide dog Whitey, Congolese witch doctor Dr. Mabongo, and of course, our favorite Mafia enforcer, Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli. Even though surstroemming and ojlmsfjaegger are foods and not characters, they are also featured in many of our stories.

Things We Have Satirized. FIS penalties for small infractions, disqualification rules, how the FIS figures out start order, how FIS points are calculated, how to figure out who wins races, Lindsey Vonn's wish to race against men and her obsession with records, commentators being confused about Regina Sterz's identity, Fritz Dopfer constantly being asked if he is German or Austrian, Vanessa Mae qualifying to the Sochi Olympics, the FIS's promotion of City Events, how nobody in the States knows Ted Ligety, Ski Racing magazine's ad for a writer, Marcel Hirscher constantly being accused of cheating, and much more.

Our Unique Stories. Germany setting the trend for teams getting witch doctors, Dr. Mabongo being kidnapped by Sweden in Schladming and the trial in Mongolia, the quest by Lindsey Vonn's supporters to invade Slovenia, and Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli qualifying for the Sochi Olympics along with the subsequent investigation into the Freedonian Ski Team.

Our Top Stories.  Our top 5 most viewed stories are:  1) Athlete Profile: Aksel Lund Svindal and Julia Manuso,  2) Larisa Yurkiw dumped by Alpine Canada,  3) Is Tiger Woods Cheating on Lindsey Vonn,  4) Marcel Hirscher's Wish in Schladming, and 5) An Interview with Bode and Morgan Miller.

Who Reads the Blickbild? The top 10 countries where are readers come from are: 1) USA  2) Germany  3) Russia  4) France  5) United Kingdom  6) Canada  7) Austria  8) Slovenia  9) Poland  10) Sweden

We have the most intrepid reporters and research team in the business. They have not only interviewed athletes and FIS officials, but they have traveled the world to bring our readers the stories that everyone else is afraid to print. They have traveled all over Europe, the Congo, Moscow, Mongolia, the Mojave Desert in California, and even New Jersey. Our staff will continue to travel the globe to find the stories that the others ignore.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive story.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We can't believe that we lasted two years.

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.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: 

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, January 7, 2015

All About the Zagreb Snow Queen

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Mikaela Shiffrin won the women's Zagreb Snow Queen trophy on Sunday and Marcel Hirscher won the men's trophy on Tuesday. But what does the Snow Queen actually do? Does he or she have any real power or is the title simply ceremonial? We tasked our intrepid research team to find out the answer to this mystery. But they couldn't find anything despite using all of the most modern research methods and tools. So we did the old-fashioned thing and sent one of our intrepid reporters to Croatia. Our lionhearted journalist found a race organizer who was willing to talk about the Snow Queen trophy and everything that it entails. For this article he wanted to be known as Dragan. Let's find out what he has to say. 

BB: Tell us about the Snow Queen.
Dragan: The original Snow Queen was Janica Kostelic. Ever since Janica's time, the winner of the Zagreb slalom race is the Snow Queen.
BB: What about the male winner? Is he also the Snow Queen or can he be the Snow King?
Dragan: Both are the Snow Queen.
BB: Isn't that a bit gay for a man to be the Snow Queen?
Dragan: No. That is the name of the trophy. The men don't seem to have a problem with it. Anyway, they are Snow Queens and not drag queens. 
BB: So all you have to do to become the Snow Queen is to win a ski race?
Dragan: Not just any ski race, the Zagreb slalom race. 
BB: Athletes interested in becoming the Snow Queen don't have to do anything else like try to pull a sword out of a stone?
BB: What if the Lady of the Lake handed one of the ski racers a sword? Could that racer then become the Snow Queen?
Dragan: No. He or she must actually win the race. You don't get to be Snow Queen because a woman in a lake hands you a sword. Anyway, there are a lot of lakes in Croatia. How would the person getting the sword know if it was from the real Lady of the Lake or an imposter?
BB: Good point. Does anyone interested in being the Snow Queen have to answer a series of questions? For example, do the athletes have to state their quest or answer if they like movies about gladiators?
Dragan: No. The Snow Queen will answer some questions from reporters after the race, but that is after he or she already wins the trophy. There are no pre-qualification questions. 
BB: I see. After a racer becomes the Snow Queen, what does he or she get?
Dragan: A crystal crown and a special robe. On the podium the Snow Queen also gets to sit on a throne. 
BB: Does he or she get to keep the throne?
Dragan: No. We keep it in a special place and bring it out for the post-race podium ceremony. 
BB: You make the Snow Queen sit on a recycled throne? Are the crown and robe recycled too?
Dragan: No, the Snow Queen gets to keep the crown and robe. New ones are made every year. The crown is worth a lot because it is made of crystal.
BB: Well, that's something. What other things does the Snow Queen get besides the crown, robe, and prize money? For example, does he or she get a scepter?
Dragan: No scepter. But winner gets the title of Snow Queen. It's a big honor.
BB:  Does he or she get a castle or palace too?
Dragan: No. But if he or she saves his or her money, I suppose the Snow Queen could buy one. 
BB: But a queen is supposed to have a castle or palace. If the Snow Queen doesn't have a castle, can he or she at least have some knights to fight for him or her and serfs to work the land?
Dragan: We don't have knights and serfs in Croatia! It is a modern country!
BB: Does the Snow Queen get land even if it doesn't come with knights and serfs?
Dragan: The only land that the Snow Queen rules over is the slalom course at Sljeme.
BB: What a about a royal seal? Every queen is supposed to have a royal seal.
Dragan: No royal seal. The Snow Queen has to sign autographs with a pen, just like the other racers.
BB: Let's athlete wins a race and becomes the Snow Queen. But the Snow Queen doesn't get a scepter, castle, knights, serfs, land, or a royal seal. Is the Snow Queen at least the head of the Church of Croatia?
Dragan: There is no Church of Croatia. We are a Catholic country.
BB: Does the Snow Queen get to preside over the opening of the Croatian parliament?
Dragan: No.
BB: Is the Snow Queen the commander-in-chief of the Croatian armed forces?
Dragan: No.
BB: Can the Snow Queen issue royal proclamations?
Dragan: No.
BB: If the current Snow Queens Mikaela and Marcel have children, will they be princes or princesses?
Dragan: No. The only way for their children to become a Snow Queen is to win the race.
BB: What about going to hospitals or visiting schools? Is the Snow Queen supposed to have a special cause?
Dragan: If the Snow Queen wants to visit a school or a hospital, that would be a nice thing. But it is not a requirement to have a special cause.
BB: So what exactly does the Snow Queen do if he or she isn't the head of the Croatian armed forces or doesn't get to preside over the parliament or issue proclamations?
Dragan: I hate to tell you this, but the Snow Queen isn't a real queen. It is a ceremonial title for the winner of the Zagreb slalom races.
BB: So who's going to break the news to Mikaela Shiffrin and Marcel Hirscher that they are not real queens? Mikaela has won that title twice and Marcel three times. That must count for something.
Dragan: It does. They are both consistently better than everyone else on our course. Mikaela reminds me of our original Snow Queen, Janica Kostelic.
BB: Don't you think that Mikaela and Marcel should become real queens since they have won this race multiple times? If they win this race next year, they should at least get a scepter or the chance to issue a proclamation or two.
Dragan: That's not up to me to decide. I'll bring it up with the other race organizers.
BB: You should. It's a real disgrace that Mikaela and Marcel did everything possible to become the Snow Queen and all they got for it were: a crown, a robe, some money, and sitting on a recycled throne.  Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview. I hope that if Mikaela and Marcel become the Snow Queens again next year, they can get some proper royal powers. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our editor is the king!

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, January 4, 2015

Athlete Profile: Travis Ganong

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The USA's Travis Ganong is not as flashy as his teammate Bode Miller, but he has quietly and consistently moved up the downhill rankings. He is now in the top group of men's downhill racers. Travis just got his first World Cup win in Santa Caterina last weekend. One of our intrepid reporters had the chance to interview Travis while he was watching the slalom race in Kuehtai. Let's get to know him a little better...

BB: First of all, congratulations on your first World Cup win!
Ganong: Thank you.
BB: I see that your teammates didn't shave off your beard to celebrate your win.
Ganong: The beard stays. My teammates can give me a funny haircut or shave my head, but they know not to touch the beard.
BB: You and teammate Steve Nyman each have a win this season. What is the secret of the US men's team's success? Are you eating something different this year?
Ganong: No. We eat the same things we have always eaten.
BB: You didn't break into Kjetil Jansrud's stash of ojlmsfjaegger?
Ganong: His what?
BB: Ojlmsfjaegger. They are cubes of pickled reindeer heart in a special smoked salmon and chocolate sauce. Norwegians eat them on birthdays.
Ganong: That sounds awful! But that does explain why Kjetil is leading the overall standings this season. He's probably trying to get away from someone chasing him with them.
BB: I happen to know that his grandmother makes very good ojlmsfjaegger. (short pause) Does the US men's team now have a secret witch doctor?
Ganong: No. Why would we need a witch doctor?
BB: A lot of ski teams now have witch doctors. A witch doctor can really help a team by making special potions to help a ski racer become more physically and mentally fit. They can also put curses on the opposition.
Ganong: Wouldn't some of those potions violate the policy on performance enhancing drugs?
BB: Evidently not. So far the FIS has allowed witch doctors' potions.
Ganong: I see. But no, our team doesn't have a witch doctor. I think that our success comes from self-belief and  good training, not from voodoo magic.
BB: Think what you want. But witch doctors have helped other teams. Back to your maiden win. Do you feel a little weird because you won a women's race?
Ganong: It was a men's race. There were no women in the field.
BB: But you started at the women's start, therefore it was a women's race.
Ganong: The start was the reserve start and it was moved there because of the weather. It was a very tough course. I can't imagine women being able to ski it well.
BB: I won't argue with you because that would be poor journalism. Let's just say that we will have to disagree on Santa Caterina being a women's race because of the start and it being on a shorter course. Let's move on to another subject...your relationship with Canadian racer Marie-Michele "Mitch" Gagnon. What initially attracted you to her?
Ganong: She is very beautiful. After we talked, we realized that we have a lot in common.
BB: Fair enough. So your attraction to her had nothing to do with your last names being anagrams of each other's?
Ganong: No. But we figured that out very quickly.
BB: I'm sure you did. Now that Marlies Schild has retired, do you think that you and Mitch should be Alpine skiing's power couple?
Ganong: Why not! Benni and Marlies will be hard to top, but Mitch and I would do our best to fill their shoes.
BB: If, or when, you and Mitch get married, will she change her name to yours or will she be Marie-Michele Ganong-Gagnon?
Ganong: We haven't thought about that. But I think that Marie-Michele Ganong-Gagnon would be too much of a tongue twister. By the time a commentator said that whole name, Mitch would have finished her run. Maybe we will really confuse the fans and scramble the letters in our last names into something new like Gannog or even Noggan.
BB: Wouldn't you feel guilty for confusing the fans and racing commentators by doing that?
Ganong: No. In fact, it would be a lot of fun.
BB: Maybe you and Mitch could keep your last names and give each of your kids a different last name that are all anagrams. 
Ganong: Mitch and I want to have children when we retire from racing. But we haven't discussed their names yet. I'll have to talk with her about giving each child a different last name. I'm sure that she would go along with that.
BB: I can imagine her going along with it. She seems like a woman who likes to have fun.
Ganong: She is. That's one reason why I love her.
BB: What are your goals for Vail?
Ganong: Hopefully to win a medal or two. I hope that Mitch can also win a medal.
BB: Good luck in Vail and congratulations again on your first World Cup win. May it be the start of many more wins. 
Ganong: Thank you.
BB: Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview. We at the Blickbild wish you even more success this season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

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