Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Stefan Abplanalp Seeks New Horizons

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Swiss trainer Stefan Abplanalp has resigned his position as head trainer for the Swiss C-Kader. The reason for his resignation was that he is looking for new challenges and wants to expand his horizons. The others have already reported this story, so we would normally avoid it like a cup of hemlock. But we have our own unique perspective on this story. One of our intrepid reporters was able to interview Mr. Abplanalp about his surprise resignation and other things. This interview was conducted before he was hired to coach Hungarian World Cup racer Edit Miklos. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Please tell our readers why you wanted to resign from the Swiss team for the second time. 
Abplanalp: I want a new challenge in life and want to expand my horizons.
BB: That is what you have told the others. But we want to look into why you have such a hard time keeping a job. At first it seemed like you had no job troubles because you were a trainer for the Swiss team until 2012.
Abplanalp: That is correct. 
BB: Did you enjoy your time with the Swiss team?
Abplanalp: Yes. 
BB: So why did you leave?
Abplanalp: There was the story going around that I showed up drunk to a race, which is false. But it was making the rounds of the Swiss tabloids. I thought that the best way to stop the tabloid stories was to go to another team. Fortunately, the Norwegians hired me to work with Lotte Sejersted and Ragnhild Mowinckel.
BB: It's good that the Norwegians believe in second chances. You were doing a great job with Lotte and Ragnhild. Why would you leave when they started having some success in the World Cup?
Abplanalp: I absolutely hated those chocolate and fish cubes that the Norwegians eat at every meal.
BB: You mean ojlmsfjaegger?
Abplanalp: Yes. Who could have  invented such a food? Give me a good fondue any day.
BB: You must have had ojlmsfjaegger from a can because the homemade ones are pretty good. I have eaten Grandma Jansrud's ojlmsfjaegger and lived to tell the tale. They are a beloved birthday treat in Norway.
Abplanalp: Anyway, one of the requirements for renewing my contract with Team Norway was that I had to eat a minimum amount of those things every month. There was no way I could do it, so I took the job with the US Team.
BB: You really need to give the homemade ones a chance. The tinned ones are awful, but the homemade ones are much better. According the the Norwegian team, Grandma Jansrud combines those pickled cubes of reindeer heart with a smoked salmon and chocolate sauce better than anyone. But enough about ojlmsfjaegger. Let's talk about your experience with the US team.
Abplanalp: The US speed team is very talented, but in the end I could not work with them. Some of the ladies thought that they were too good to train with the team and it undermined my efforts. In Switzerland the whole team trains together. Another reason for leaving was that the US team wanted to have more US trainers and fewer foreign ones. So I went back to Switzerland.
BB: You have done very well with your Swiss group, especially Beatrice Scalvedi. She did well in the Europa Cup this past season and also won medals at the Junior World Championships. Don't you want to stay around to see how she develops in the World Cup?
Abplanalp: Once she gets to the B and A Kaders, I would no longer be training her. I would have others to train.  I decided that the time is right for new challenges.
BB: Are your romantic relationships successful?
Abplanalp: What does that have to do with my career as a ski trainer?
BB: A lot. There are people who leave a romantic relationship once the initial glow wears off. They hurry into marriage and end up with multiple divorces. They are generally the same people who leave a job once the excitement is gone. 
Abplanalp: My love life is none of your business! And as for the frequent job switches, there were good reasons. Where do you get your information anyway?
BB: Our intrepid research team watches a lot of TV programs that match our low journalistic standards like Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer. But getting back to new challenges....We at the Blickbild would like to help you find a new job that is challenging and will definitely expand your horizons.
Abplanalp: If you are offering me a job at the Blickbild, I'm not so sure I would take it. 
BB: And we are not so sure that you are intrepid enough to work for us, so the feeling is mutual. Our first suggestion is to get a job coaching a team from Africa or Asia. That would be a big challenge because there are very few Asian skiers in the World Cup and none from Africa. You could be the trainer of the first African World Cup racer.
Abplanalp: That would definitely be a challenge.
BB: The FIS always talks about trying to get the whole world to watch ski races. It would certainly generate a lot of interest in Africa if there was an African World Cup racer. Think of the glory you would earn!
Abplanalp: Do you have a more realistic suggestion?
BB: Our editor knows some Arab sheiks who are interested in hiring a coach from a powerhouse ski country to train their sons to be ski racers. You would earn tons of money and you would train the first Arab World Cup racers. 
Abplanalp: If I were to stay with coaching, I would want to be in a place that actually has snow and support for ski racing. 
BB: Well, that does not sound very challenging at all! We have another suggestion. Have you considered becoming a witch doctor? There is a college in Canada that offers a witch doctor training course. You would not be training ski racers, but you would create potions to help their performance and throw curses at opposing racers. The challenge would be to pass your courses and create potions that the FIS deems legal. Going to Canada would also qualify as expanding your horizons.
Abplanalp: I never thought about being a witch doctor. We don't use them in Switzerland. But I don't think that I want to stop working for four years to become a witch doctor. 
BB: We have one last suggestion. Have you considered working with a ski team on another planet? You could be the first Earthling to be a trainer for another planet's ski team. If that doesn't challenge you or expand your horizons, nothing will.
Abplanalp: How do we know there is even life on other planets?
BB: Last summer Anna Fenninger was recruited to compete for the planet Zorkon in the Andromeda Galaxy. So we know there is at least one planet out there with life. 
Abplanalp: I don't think I would be interested in training space aliens, if they even exist. I prefer to work on Earth. 
BB: We are out of suggestions and we know one thing. You are extremely picky about what jobs you will take. Someone who changes jobs as often as you do should be grateful to us for trying to help you find employment. You are officially hopeless. 
Abplanalp: Uh.....Maybe I need some time to think about your suggestions, ridiculous as they are.
BB: Get back to us if you change your mind. Well, it looks like we are out of time. Mr. Abplanalp, thank you for an insightful interview. Good luck with the job search, finding a new challenge, and expanding those horizons. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our jobs are very challenging and help our employees to expand their horizons.
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, April 8, 2016

Injury Prevention

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Injuries have always been a part of ski racing. But this past season, it seemed like there was a record number of injuries. Every week there was a report of athletes injured in races, training runs, or simply getting out of bed in the morning. What were the causes of so many injuries and what can be done to reduce them next season? Well dear readers, you are in luck. One of our intrepid reporters scored an interview with Bob, our favorite contact at the International Ski Federation (FIS), and talked to him about all of the injuries. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Bob, it is nice to see you again. Are you still working in media relations?
Bob: Yes. The position in media relations was supposed to be temporary, but the FIS made it permanent after reading my interviews with your reporters.
BB: The Blickbild doesn't just have ordinary reporters, we have the most intrepid reporters in the business. It's nice to see that we are good for something. (short pause) This past season, over 50 ski racers, from big stars to lesser-known racers, were injured. What seemed to cause this epidemic of injuries?
Bob: There are a lot of theories as to why so many athletes were injured. I'll go into the most popular one by one. The first is snow conditions. There was either too much snow or not enough. It was difficult for service men to decide which type of wax to put on the racers' skis, so they sometimes used the wrong one for the snow conditions.
BB: Do you really believe that all of the injuries were caused by the wrong wax? Surely the athletes' service men know which waxes to use for different snow conditions. That is why they are paid so well.
Bob: I didn't say that I believe this theory. But it is one popular theory making the rounds. Another is that pain killers are masking the little aches and pains that every ski racer has. The racer then pushes himself beyond his limits because the medicine is masking the pain and gets injured.
BB: I'm not so sure about that one. Ski racers have been taking pain killers since the beginning of the World Cup. That does not account for last season's carnage.
Bob: I agree that there has to be something more than pain killers at work. From talking to the athletes, I heard that the snow was a different shade of white than it has been in the past.
BB: That is absurd, even by our low journalistic standards! Are you saying that a ski racer can really tell the difference between the snow being pearl white and eggshell white?
Bob: Yes. It could be that the racers were expecting the snow to be one shade of white and wore the wrong goggles. They could not see the bumps or ruts on the course, which made them crash and get injured.
BB: I don't know...you'd think that the racers would have goggles that would work no matter what shade of white the snow was. Variations in snow color cannot account for all of the injuries that we saw.
Bob: Right. But sunspot and solar flare activity could.
BB: Wait a minute! Our intrepid research team looked into sunspots and solar flares. The past year was a period of low sunspot and solar flare activity.
Bob: Maybe the lack of sunspots and energy from solar flares striking Earth affected the athletes' brain waves and made them sluggish, which resulted in the injuries.
BB: I seriously doubt that low sunspot activity would affect the brain waves of people on Earth and make them sluggish and injury prone.
Bob: You never know. But there has been a lot of volcanic activity on Jupiter's moon Io.
BB: Are you really saying that volcanic activity on the moon of a planet millions of kilometers away is the cause of all the injuries that we saw on the race pistes?
Bob: When you say it that way, it does sound a little ridiculous. By the way, I read that Pluto could have a warm underground ocean and possibly harbor life forms.
BB: You do realize that Pluto is no longer considered a planet? It is a dwarf planet.
Bob: It will always be a planet to me.
BB: So are you going to say next that the alien life forms on Pluto somehow affected ski racers and caused them to get injured?
Bob: You never know! Plutonians could be among us on Earth now and we just don't know it. But I do know that the aliens on the planet Zorkon in the Andromeda Galaxy were upset about Anna Fenninger being injured just before the season started. They wanted to recruit her to compete for Zorkon after her falling out with the Austrian Federation. Perhaps they went out and shot ski racers with their ray guns to get revenge on the FIS for not allowing Anna to compete for Zorkon.
BB: Don't you think that spectators  or course workers would have noticed space men with ray guns on the training and race courses shooting the athletes?
Bob: The Zorkonians could be invisible to Earthlings.
BB: Let's get back to this planet and reality for a moment. Who do you like better, Messi or Ronaldo?
Bob: What do football (that's soccer to our North American readers) players have to do with all of the injuries we saw last season?
BB: I'm the one asking the questions here. That's why I'm the intrepid reporter and you are my interview subject. Messi or Ronaldo?
Bob: Umm...Jan Oblak
BB: Jan Oblak?
Bob: Yes. He is the goalkeeper for Atletico Madrid and has given up the fewest goals in the Spanish football league this season. Even though I live and work in Switzerland now, I am Slovenian and Jan is one of the national team goalkeepers.
BB: I thought you might have answered with Neymar, but now I can see why you went with Oblak. Now that we are back on Earth, here is my opinion about what is causing all of the injuries. I think it is a combination of faster skis and courses that are basically sheets of ice. The athletes are being pushed beyond their limits.
Bob: Wait a minute! That is not fair! People want to see the racers go fast and at their limits. After all, think about some other sports. Do people like auto racing because they enjoy watching cars going in a circle for several hours? No, they want to see crashes. Hockey fans don't actually like the game. They want to see the players fighting. We at the FIS are giving the fans what they want by changing the skis and making the courses super fast.
BB: Isn't athlete safety supposed to be one of the FIS's main concerns?
Bob: Of course it is, but so are ticket sales and TV ratings. If the skiers went down a beginner slope wearing bubble wrap suits, nobody would watch. These days everything is about making the races as exciting as possible for the spectators.
BB: Races are more exciting to watch when there are not big pauses for injuries or theatrics. Whenever there is a big injury break I end up changing the channel on the TV. I'm sure other fans who watch the races do the same thing.
Bob: We have noticed that ratings for curling and ice dancing increase and ski racing ratings decrease whenever there are big injury pauses. But we will soon remedy that by showing films of past crashes to keep the viewers from changing the channel.
BB: Why not just make the courses slightly slower or change the skis to make them safer? I'm sure ski racing fans prefer their favorites to finish the season in one piece.
Bob: You really need to get into the modern world. Sports where athletes are simply measured against the clock and their fellow competitors are so 20th century. There needs to be something more exciting to keep fans interested.
BB: I'm not so sure that your way of thinking will stop the injury epidemic. Ski racing fans that we talked to were saddened by their favorites dropping like flies.
Bob: At our summer meeting in Cancun we will discuss some proposals that fit the FIS values of safety, excitement, entertainment, and high TV ratings. We will keep you posted on the outcome.
BB: I hope you will. Well, it looks like we are out of time. Bob, I want to thank you for another enlightening interview. It was interesting as always. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We polled our staff and they prefer Messi over Ronaldo, though they say that Ronaldo's dives and theatrics are better than Messi's.

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.