Sunday, April 16, 2017

Summer Meeting Preview

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The FIS's summer meeting in Portoroz, Slovenia is coming up soon. It's a real miracle that the powers that be actually get any work done at their summer meetings. They always go to cool places like Cancun, Dubrovnik, or Portoroz. Or maybe that's how they come up with some of their crazy ideas--their brains get baked by the sun. One of our intrepid reporters went to FIS headquarters in Switzerland to try and get a sneak peek of what the FIS will come up with for next season.  We know what you are thinking. We have not put out any stories for a long time and have lost count of the number of reporters we fired because they were more interested in watching the ski races rather than reporting on them. But now we have a new batch who will hopefully do some actual work. Enough complaining about our  former reporters, who made sloths seem energetic. One of our new reporters (who is not quite as intrepid as our original reporters) had a chance to talk with Bob, our favourite contact at the FIS. Let's find out what he has to say. 

BB: We heard through the grapevine and smoke signals that the FIS has several exciting new changes for next season. 
Bob: Yes. I think that ski racing fans will be pleased. After all, TV ratings are very important to us. 
BB: Of course they are. Tell us about the first thing. 
Bob: The men will be going back to the old giant slalom skis.
BB: You mean wooden skis?
Bob: No, the previous type that was replaced by the current type, which was the previous type before being replaced. 
BB: So the previous GS ski, which is the future type of GS ski, will become the current GS ski. And the current skis will become the old, obsolete ones. Got it. What is the purpose of changing the skis so much?
Bob: We switched skis because of injuries. But it seems like the racers were injured more with the current, soon-to-be-past, GS skis than they were on the skis they used before them. But we switched anyway because we didn't realize that there would be more injuries on the new skis. 
BB: Maybe injuries happen because of course settings or making courses icier than ever before. Just a thought.
Bob: The fans want to see the racers pushing their limits. We think changing back to the previous skis should let the athletes go fast and reduce injuries. 
BB: Why not really challenge the racers and go back to wooden skis? 
Bob: I don't think any of them know how to handle wooden skis on a modern giant slalom course. Nobody would even finish a race.
BB: But everything comes back into style after a time. Maybe wooden skis will become the standard in a few years. But I guess we will have to wait and see. We heard that the next thing on the agenda is to increase the number of parallel races. 
Bob: That's right. Fans love parallel races. But we are working on a way to make them even better. 
BB: Really?
Bob: Yes. Instead of two athletes racing side-by-side, we will have eight. 
BB: In current parallel races the athletes take a turn racing from each gate. Will they do the same if eight are racing side-by-side? If a certain gate course is faster, it would keep things fair.  Would there be eight runs per heat? And how would you track all of the times?
Bob: People love watching ski cross because the athletes are racing head-to-head against each other. They don't do multiple runs because one side of the course might possibly be faster. Think of this new format as being a hybrid of  the current parallel racing format and ski cross. It should be a real winner with the fans.
BB: How will you calculate the points? And how many athletes would be allowed with this new format?
Bob: We will figure out how to calculate the race points at the summer meeting. The new format would allow more than the current 16 men and women. Half would be eliminated in each heat until only the final two are left. 
BB: I see. How will you prevent crashes? Even with the two-at-a-time format, there have been cases of racers crashing into each other. Eight athletes on a ramp would increase the chance of crashes.
Bob: The people who set up ski cross races don't worry about crashes or racers tackling each other, like Filip Zubcic did to Felix Neureuther in Schladming. It is all about seeing the racers compete directly against each other as well as the clock. Falls and tackles are part of the game.
BB: Some of the racers who have won parallel events feel like they did not win a "real" World Cup race. How will you change that perception?
Bob: We are talking about increasing the number of parallel races and giving a globe in that discipline. Then the races would seem real to the athletes. Get used to parallel races because they are the future of ski racing.
BB: Just like changing from old skis to new ones and back again.
Bob: Exactly!
BB: The FIS always talks about wanting to expand its audience. One way to get more Europeans and Americans interested in ski racing is to involve guns. Europeans love biathlon and Americans love their guns. 
Bob: I don't think we would have any ski racers left if they all carried guns.
BB: Imagine you are one of eight racers on a parallel slalom course. You not only have to ski fast down it, making all of the gates, but you need the ability to hit a moving target while avoiding being hit yourself. That would get great TV ratings!
Bob: I'm sure it would. But how would the athletes carry both their poles and a gun?
BB: By going back to basics. Young children learn to ski without poles, right?
Bob: Yes, but--
BB: Exactly! The racers will carry a gun instead of poles. 
Bob: But beginning skiers also go down the hill in a snowplow. Ski racing fans want to see the racers go fast, not in a snowplow.
BB: Winning a race by having the fastest time, whether it is head-to-head against others, or by beating the clock, is so 20th century. It is time to bring more excitement into ski racing. Thus the guns.
Bob: But they will end up all killing each other! Each race would be total carnage!
BB: The racers would not be using real bullets. They would either use paintballs or a laser tag system to record the hits and misses. Think of the excitement of watching the athletes ski down a ramp, shoot at a moving target, and dodge bullets. Bring it up at the summer meeting. I bet the others at the FIS would love this idea.
Bob: I'm not so sure, but you never know.
BB: Are there any more changes that ski racing fans can look forward to next season?
Bob: We are talking about getting rid of Super-G.
BB: Wait a minute! As of now, there are already more technical races on the calendar than speed races. How can a speed specialist possibly compete for an overall globe if approximately two-thirds of the races are technical?
Bob: He or she will have to be very consistent or not lose the technical skills. Super-G is basically a shortened downhill, or as we like to call it, Downhill Lite.
BB: I think that the fans will protest getting rid of Super-G. A lot of racing fans love it.
Bob: Super-G is the newest discipline, introduced to the World Cup in the mid-1980s. It is not one of the classical disciplines. But we at the FIS understand that a lot of fans like it. Therefore, we will replace it with something that the fans will appreciate just as much.
BB: Are you going to tell us or leave us in suspense?
Bob: You don't have the world's biggest readership, so I feel safe telling you this secret. We are going to replace Super-G with ski ballet. There will even be a globe for it! Imagine...our best ski racers can not only go fast down a race course, they can dance on their skis. (see this video)
BB: Ski ballet? Seriously? I thought it died back in the early '90s.
Bob: As you recently said, everything old becomes new again. We would modify it to make it even more exciting, like requiring the ski ballet dancers to throw their poles in the air and catch them after doing a spin or other acrobatic maneuver. There would be deductions for dropping the poles or not catching them. Think rhythmic gymnastics on skis. Imagine Mikaela Shiffrin dancing in a tutu or Aksel Lund Svindal doing ski ballet in a sequined suit.
BB: Who in their right mind would want to do this?
Bob: Anyone who wants to earn World Cup points, especially speed specialists when we get rid of Super-G.
BB: Next you're going to tell me that there will be a ski ballet globe.
Bob: Wow, you really are psychic! We will be increasing the number of small globes to six:  downhill, giant slalom, slalom, super-combined, parallel slalom, and ski ballet.
BB: One more thing. This is a bit awkward, but won't people be turned off by ski ballet because it would be perceived as
Bob: I think that ski racing fans will appreciate the athletic ability required to spin, do flips, and do artistic things with poles while on skis and the perception of it being gay won't be an issue. If macho-looking men like Dominik Paris or Aksel Lund Svindal start doing ski ballet, then that perception will go away very quickly.  Anyway, several ski racers, for example Felix Neureuther, have a large gay following. If ski ballet helps to increase the number of gay people watching ski races, then we will be happy. TV ratings are very important to us and we want as many people as possible all over the world to enjoy our wonderful sport. It doesn't matter if our fans are gay or straight.
BB: Are you gay?
Bob: No. What does it matter anyway?
BB: It doesn't. But I thought I would ask because our readers might like to know.
Bob: And now they do. Shall we move on to the next question?
BB: Okay. What about giving ski ballet a more macho image by requiring the athletes to use guns?
Bob: What is it with you and guns?
BB: We are talking about changes that will make ski racing more exciting. The most exciting movies and TV programmes always involve guns. It is time to bring them to ski racing. Imagine two athletes doing ski ballet at the same time. One does a triple spin and then aims his gun at his competitor, who tries to dodge the bullet by doing a flying camel spin on skis.  That would certainly be more exciting than watching someone in a shimmery costume simply doing spins and flips on skis. 
Bob: I don't know.
BB: Are there any other things that will be discussed in Portoroz?
Bob: No. Those are the main ones.
BB: Oh, there is one more thing. Why are the FIS summer meetings always on the coast? How much work really gets done at these so-called summer meetings?
Bob: We at the FIS work very hard to bring fans the races that they want to see. Therefore, we deserve a little holiday too. You would be amazed at the ideas that are generated after spending 8 hours lying in the sun.
BB: Judging from our interview, and past ideas like three-run slaloms and short course downhills, I can easily imagine what goes through everyone's minds at the FIS. As they say, idle minds are the devil's workshop.
Bob: The expression is, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop."
BB: Same thing. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for another interesting interview. Ski racing fans are definitely looking forward to all of the changes next season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Idle minds are the Blickbild's workshop.

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