Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Athlete Profile: Fritz Dopfer

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

As we count down to the 2013 Alpine Skiing World Championships in Schladming, the Blickbild will profile some of the athletes to watch. German technical specialist Fritz Dopfer was born in Innsbruck, Austria then moved back and forth between Germany and Austria during his childhood, mainly living in Bavaria and the Tirol. He competed for Austria until 2007, when he joined the German ski team.He made his World Cup debut in 2011 and had a very impressive season. Fritz's father is German and his mother is Austrian. Fritz is considered to be a dark horse favorite for a medal in Schladming in both the slalom and giant slalom. The Blickbild presents an exclusive interview with Fritz, German Ski Association (DSV) president Alfons Hoermann, and Austrian Ski Federation (OeSV) president Peter Schroecksnadel. Let's get to know Fritz a little better.

BB: Fritz, commentators on the various sports channels refer to you as, "The Austrian German," "The German Austrian," or simply, "The Germstrian." Do you consider yourself to be German or Austrian?
Dopfer: I am very proud to represent Germany and compete on its ski team. 
Schroecksnadel: Fritz may say that he's German, but he's really one of us. He has an Austrian birth certificate and received most of his ski training in Austria. He may have washed out of our system, but he will always be a part of the Austrian Power Team.
BB: Fritz, how do you and German technical star Felix Neureuther get along? Is there any resentment on Felix's part that an Austrian is part of his team?
Dopfer: Felix and I get along very well and we are great friends. He is a great mentor and I am proud to be representing Germany, and not Austria, with Felix. One of my happiest moments was when I was second in the Adelboden giant slalom this season and Felix was third. It was Felix's first World Cup podium in giant slalom and I was honored to be on the podium with him. Felix is one of the nicest people on the World Cup.
BB: Were you accepted by Felix right away?
Dopfer: No. When I first joined the team Felix defaced my autograph cards. He drew mustaches, scars, and warts on my face and martian antennae on my head. He also made my speed suit look like an Austrian one. But when Felix saw how proud I was to ski for Germany, we became close friends.
Hoermann: In past seasons the German technical team was Felix. But with Fritz on the team, we now have two great technical skiers. Felix and Fritz have really pushed each other to excellence. The DSV is very lucky to have both Felix and Fritz.
BB: Fritz, have you considered changing your name to Mueller so that your fans are not confused about your nationality?
Dopfer: No. If I changed my name to Mueller, people would confuse me with German football star Thomas Mueller. I got into skiing because I was a terrible football player! (Note to our US readers: When Europeans say, "Football," they mean soccer.) The Austrian ski team was not the first team which rejected me. When I was six I was cut from the SV Schongau Bambini football team because I was so bad. But I am now very proud to be a part of the German ski team and have no desire to play football or have people think that I am Thomas Mueller.
Schroecksnadel: Fritz can't be a real German if he plays football poorly. He's a better skier than football player, which automatically makes him Austrian.
BB: Herr Schroecksnadel, do you regret that the OeSV rejected Fritz because the coaches didn't think he was good enough for the Austrian Power Team?
Schroecksnadel: Our trainers are human, but in the history of Austrian skiing they have only made two mistakes. Hermann Maier was thrown off the Austrian junior team for being too small. But he was able to work hard to make the team, so we really shouldn't count that as a mistake. We also learned from our mistake with Hermann. Marcel Hirscher was a very small kid, and he still is a little runt, but we kept him. He's now leading the World Cup overall standings. As for Fritz, yes we made a mistake. We let him go before he showed his full potential and we will be forever sorry for that. (after a pause)  Herr Hoermann, would the DSV be willing to let Fritz come back to Austria?
Hoermann: Definitely not! You rejected the poor boy and we took him in and let him shine. Now that Fritz is better than most of your skiers you want him back. You had your opportunity and you missed it. Too bad for you and the Austrian team! (at this point Herr Horemann put his thumbs in his ears and stuck out his tongue at Herr Schroecksnadel)
Dopfer: I don't want to go back to Austria because I am very proud to compete for Germany.
Schroecksnadel: What will it take for you to give Fritz back to Austria?
Hoermann: This isn't football, where athletes can be on loan to other teams. Fritz is staying in Germany. Nothing you offer will entice the DSV to give him up!
Schroecksnadel: How about if the OeSV gives you 50,000 euros and 5 cows?
Hoermann: Didn't I just say that Fritz is staying with the DSV? You sure don't listen very well.
Schroecksnadel: How about 100,000 euros and 10 cows?
Hoermann: Fritz lives in Garmisch, where the cows outnumber people three to one. What would we do with more cows?
Schroecksnadel: I see your point. How about if we change history and make Mozart German instead of Austrian? Fritz skis for Austria and Mozart becomes a famous German composer.
Hoermann: How is a classical composer who has been dead for over 200 years going to help the DSV?
Schroecksnadel: Mozartkugeln of course. Everyone loves those chocolate Mozart balls. The money that the DSV would make from the sale of Mozartkugeln will provide training for promising skiers for many years to come. You give up one good skier now for the promise of many in the future.
Hoermann: Nope. Maybe next time you won't be so quick to give up on a late bloomer.
Schroecksnadel: OK, I can see your point about not wanting Mozart. How about this? We make a one-for-one trade. We'll take Fritz and give you Benni Raich.
Hoermann: Why would we want a skier who only has one or two years left when we have one with at  least five to seven?
Schroecksnadel: Did you see the results of last weekend's slalom in Kitzbuehel? Benni was 5th and Fritz was 7th. So take that! (at this point Schroecksnadel thumbed his nose and stuck out his tongue at Hoermann)
BB: Excuse me, but Fritz is an adult. Don't you think that it's up to him to decide for whom he wants to compete?
Schroecksnadel: You stay out of this! Anyway, I know in Germany football is much more popular than skiing. How about if we take Fritz in exchange for making David Alaba, the only good Austrian football player, a German citizen? If he played for Germany, then maybe it would finally win a major football championship instead of always coming up short. Alaba is already training in the German system by playing for Bayern Munich. It's a win-win situation. Austria can win medals in Schladming and Germany can win the football World Cup next year.
Hoermann: And how is a football player going to help the DSV men win medals in Schladming?
Schroecksnadel: Look, Austria is desperate for a good technical skier to complement Marcel Hirscher and be on the podium with him in Schladming. The others on the team are either way past their peak or very young and inconsistent. It's not fair to make Marcel carry the load.
Hoermann: Now you know how the DSV felt when we only had Felix. Now that we have two great technical skiers, you are jealous. How does it feel that the little German team has better technical skiers than the Austrian Power Team? (at this point Hoermann dropped his pants and pointed his butt at Schroecksnadel)
BB: Gentlemen, let's keep this discussion civilized.
Schroecksnadel: This discussion is between Herr Hoermann and me. You have no part in it. OK, I have one final offer. I will give you an original Sacher Torte from the Hotel Sacher in Vienna for your birthday every year. How can anyone resist that?
Hoermann: No! I can't do it! I love Sacher Torte!  Throw in a lifetime supply of ice cream from the ice cream shop on the Schwedenplatz in Vienna and you have a deal!
Schroecksnadel: Done! (at this point Hoermmann and Schroecksnadel shake hands and pat each other on the back)
BB: Fritz, it looks like you're heading back to Austria. Will you be just as proud to compete for Austria as you were for Germany?
Dopfer: What's going on here? I don't want to compete for Austria; I want to stay in Germany! I am very proud to compete for Germany.
Hoermann: Sorry, Fritz. It was a privilege having you ski for the DSV. But if you ever had an original Sacher Torte and ice cream from the Schwedenplatz shop, you would have done the same thing.
BB:  Good luck in Schladming, Fritz. Both Germany and Austria will be cheering for you.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All the news that the others won't print because they're sissies and we're not.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

FIS Announces New Rule Changes for 2013-14 Season

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The Boston Blickbild has received 10 bags of letters plus thousands of e-mails and tweets commenting on Italian skier Christof Innerhofer’s punishment in Kitzbuehel. Even though Innerhofer’s punishment of having to be the 46th starter in today’s classic downhill race seems rather harsh, according to the International Ski Federation (FIS) he violated the rules and had to be penalized. The FIS evidently makes no exceptions for triple world championship medalists. If our readers think that Innerhofer’s penalty was over the top, there are five new rules that the FIS will be implementing starting next season. The Blickbild was able to get an exclusive interview with FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper about these five new rules and the penalties for violating them.

BB: Have these five rules already been approved, or are they still being discussed by the FIS?
Kasper: They have been unanimously approved by all of the important people at the FIS.
BB: Did the athletes have any input into these new regulations?
Kasper: Of course they did. We listened to their suggestions but felt that they were being too demanding. We ended up rejecting all of their suggestions.
BB: I see. Let’s talk about these new rules. The first new rule change involves athlete safety, which I know is very important to you and everyone involved in professional ski racing. Tell our readers about this rule.
Kasper: You are correct that athlete safety is our number one priority. But our other priority is making racing exciting for the fans by challenging the athletes and making themselves push themselves to their physical limits. The fans want action and a real spectacle!
BB: Is that why the first women’s downhill race this season in Lake Louise was allowed to continue despite heavy fog? Some athletes said that they couldn’t see because of the fog. Swiss skier Lara Gut was flagged partway down the course and given a restart because of the fog. Why did you allow that race to continue when it was obviously unsafe?
Kasper: Another FIS priority is ensuring that the correct skier wins a race. Lindsey Vonn was winning that race and she is very popular in North America. If we had cancelled that race before the 30th skier came down, we would have been killed by rabid Vonn fans carrying pitchforks and torches. That race probably would have been cancelled if a different skier was leading.
BB: Yet last season a men’s race was aborted before the 30th racer when a French skier was in the lead and the weather didn’t seem as bad as it was in Lake Louise.
Kasper: Again, the correct skier was not in the lead. I can’t even remember the name of the French skier who was leading that race. Since he was obviously not very memorable, it was not a big deal to cancel that race in the name of safety.
BB: Getting back to the original topic of the new regulations, please explain the first new one.
Kasper: Our workers do their best to make race courses as safe as possible. Yet there are athletes who still complain that they are unsafe. Starting next season, any athlete who complains about the course or weather conditions will be forced to wear a mask of shame or Schandmaske in his or her next race. It doesn’t matter if the athlete complains to the media, on his or her Facebook page, or privately to a friend or family member.
BB: How will that improve safety? A mask of shame has tiny eye slits, making it very difficult to see. Wouldn’t a mask of shame be more unsafe for the athletes, especially in speed races?
Kasper: They worked very well for gossipy women back in the Middle Ages. The skiers will learn that complaining won’t do them any good. In addition to the mask of shame, athletes will be fined 10,000 euros and 100 points will be deducted from their totals for every complaint. Any racer with less than 100 points will have half of his or her points taken away.
BB: Okay, let’s move on to rule number two, which relates to athletes who get injured or tangled up in the nets during a race.
Kasper: Safety is of course very important to the FIS, but so are TV ratings. When a race is held up because an athlete gets injured, tangled in the nets, or otherwise fails to finish, it gets very boring for the viewers. There are only so many interviews the commentators can do to fill the time. Viewers end up changing the channel to something more exciting. Our researchers at the FIS noticed that every time a race is stopped for an injury, the ratings for curling competitions soar. There are a lot of skiers who are drama queens who are not injured, but they take their time getting up after a fall because they want attention. The FIS wants viewers to stay with skiing and not become curling fans.
BB: What if an athlete is truly injured and the race must be held up to get him or her safely off the piste? Injuries have unfortunately always been a part of ski racing.
Kasper: If someone is such a big sissy that he or she cannot get up and ski down the hill on a broken leg, that person does not belong in the World Cup. If we wanted to make everything 100% safe and injury proof, we would require the skiers to wear bubble wrap over their speed suits and have them ski down a beginner piste. Our fans would leave us in droves and watch other action-packed sports like curling.
BB: What is the penalty for holding up a race, and will there be exceptions for those with severe injuries?
Kasper: Any skier who holds up a race will be fined 50,000 euros and all of his points will be taken away. In his or her next race, that athlete will be the very last starter. There will be no exceptions for those with major injuries. But someone who has a true injury that causes him or her to miss the remainder of the season will get a nice “get well” card from the FIS. At the FIS, we care about our athletes.
BB: Now to the third rule, which has to do with the pre-race course inspection. Can you explain it in detail?
Kasper: Of course. Certain skiers have a tendency to be the first to show up for the course inspection and are the last to leave. They are obviously Communists who are trying to infiltrate the FIS. In addition to safety, another priority of the FIS is to stand strong against the Red Menace of Communism.
BB: I’m sorry, but I don’t get the connection between a strong work ethic and communism.
Kasper: Back in the early 1960s I made several trips to the States. I saw the classic movie “Red Nightmare.” Another movie that I saw in the States, whose name I forget, explained the various ways to figure out if someone is a Communist. One big indicator of whether someone is a Communist is if he is the first person to show up for an event and the last to leave. If we apply the principle of finding Communists from this movie, we should look no further than those who are the first to arrive at course inspection and the last to leave.
BB: Uh…right. So what will happen to those athletes who the fans thought were hard workers but are really Communist spies?
Kasper: They will lose all of their World Cup points and be sent to a gulag in Siberia.
BB: Excuse me, Mr. Kasper, but the gulag was dismantled after the Soviet Union fell in 1991. Dissenters are no longer sent to the gulag or a psychiatric hospital.
Kasper: We can then implement Plan B, which is to put them to work in an Austrian salt mine. If these athletes have such a strong work ethic, they should be happy working in the salt mines. Of course they would lose all of their World Cup points and would have to start at the back of the pack after they served their time in the salt mines. That is, if we allow them back.
BB: The fourth new rule change involves an academic requirement for the athletes. Tell our readers about it.
Kasper: Our athletes represent both their countries and the sport of Alpine skiing whenever they give an interview. In addition to safety, one of the FIS’s priorities is that the athletes are intelligent and conduct themselves well in interviews. Therefore, all World Cup skiers must be fluent in at least 4 different languages. All must speak German and English, which are the universal languages on the World Cup. In addition, every skier must speak a Latin-based language and either a Slavic or Scandinavian language.
BB: Why so many languages? Aren’t German and English enough?
Kasper: World Cup races are held all over Western and Eastern Europe. The racers are being interviewed more and more by local correspondents, who may not necessarily speak English or German. The FIS spends a lot of money on interpreters. If the skiers speak the local language of where they compete, the FIS would save a lot of money.
BB: How would you test the athletes’ language proficiency?
Kasper: All racers will be given both oral and written tests in the different languages. Those who pass may compete in World Cup races. Those who fail the tests must spend their time taking language classes instead of racing and their racing licenses will be taken away. When they finally pass their language proficiency tests and return to racing, then they will have to start at the back of the pack and work their way up. If our athletes can figure out which line to take down a race course, they can certainly master four languages. We don’t want stupid people on the World Cup. If I can speak 10 languages fluently, then the skiers should be able to speak four.
BB: Now to the fifth, and last, new FIS regulation. I know that it has something to do with sportsmanship but I don’t have the details.
Kasper: Some racers are great sports and are good about congratulating whoever is in the winner’s box. But others simply ignore the skier in the winner’s box. This is intolerable and must stop. Safety is is a big priority of the FIS, but good sportsmanship is also very important. Winners should be recognized because a World Cup win is a very big accomplishment.
BB: How exactly will the FIS promote good sportsmanship?
Kasper: It’s very simple. When a skier passes by the winner’s box on the way out, he or she must bow down to the racer in the winner’s box and say, “Hail, then that skier’s name, then, You are the greatest!” Women have the option to curtsy instead of bow. But everyone will speak into a special microphone that will be set up so that all of the spectators can hear.
BB: What happens when the leaders change, as they often do?
Kasper: I’ll give you an example based on the Super-G race in St. Anton a couple of weekends ago. Lindsey Vonn gets into the winner’s box. The skier who was there previously must say, “Hail Lindsey Vonn, you are the greatest!” The next racer down in St. Anton was Anna Fenninger, who beat Vonn. Lindsey would then have to get out of the winner’s box, bow down to Anna, and say, “Hail Anna Fenninger, you are the greatest!” Tina Maze replaced Anna in the winner’s box. Therefore Anna would have to bow down and say, “Hail Tina Maze, you are the greatest!” After the race is over, all of the skiers who finished off the podium must gather in front of the podium, bow down and say, “Hail to you! You are the best!”
BB: Isn’t a simple handshake enough of a congratulatory gesture?
Kasper: No. The skiers must also say the “Hail” sentence like they really mean it.
BB: What happens if an athlete refuses to hail the racer in the winner’s box or is not sincere in how he or she hailed?
Kasper: Any racer who fails to hail the winner or the podium, or is not sincere about it, will be placed in a special pillory that will be set up in the finish area. They will not be allowed to compete in their next scheduled race; they will stay in the pillory for the duration of the race instead. There will be a sign on the pillory in English, German, and the local language which will say, “I was a poor sport because I didn’t hail the winner.” Spectators will be allowed to throw food or anything else at the skier in the pillory.
BB: Isn’t public shaming on the pillory a bit harsh?
Kasper: No. It is another punishment that was very effective back in the Middle Ages. We really need to bring it back to teach the athletes to be good sports.
BB: I’m sure that the fans and athletes are looking forward to these new rule changes. They all incorporate the FIS values of providing excitement for the spectators, TV ratings, intelligence, sportsmanship, getting rid of Communists, and safety.
Kasper: Watch for even more excitement on the World Cup scene when these new regulations go into effect.
BB: Thank you for your time and explanation of these new rules. All of us at the Blickbild are looking forward to next season.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All the news that the others think is unfit to print.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Austrian Mystery Skier Selected for Schladming

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The Austrian Ski Federation (OeSV) announced its women’s team for the 2013 World Championships in Schladming earlier today. Anna Fenninger, the defending combined gold medalist, and Elisabeth Goergl, the defending gold medalist in downhill and Super-G, will each compete in 4 events: downhill, Super-G, giant slalom, and combined. Kathrin Zettel and Michaela Kirchgasser will ski in 3 events: slalom, giant slalom, and combined. Veteran team member Nicole Hosp will compete in the slalom and combined events. The only other Austrian skier to qualify for more than one discipline in Schladming is Regina Sterz, whose performances this season in the downhill and Super-G events impressed her coaches and ski racing fans alike. But Regina Sterz remains a mystery to Austria and the rest of the world. Who is Regina Sterz and how did she make the mighty Austrian world championship team without anybody noticing her before? The Blickbild has an exclusive interview with Regina Sterz along with her teammates Anna Fenninger and Elisabeth Goergl and OeSV women’s head trainer Herbert Mandl.

BB: Regina, congratulations on making the world championship squad. You are the second best downhiller and fourth best in Super-G on the Austrian Power team this season and you deserve your place in the championships.
Sterz: Thank you. I am very happy that I can compete in the world championships in my home country.
BB: Do you feel more pressure because the championships are in Austria?
Sterz: No, not really. I would like to do well in front of the home fans. But I will concentrate on simply doing my best and will hopefully earn a medal.
Mandl: Regina is doing incredibly well for a World Cup rookie. It usually takes a skier at least two to three years of World Cup experience to make an impact. But Regina is in her first year and she has already impressed everyone. I see her becoming the next Austrian speed star.
Sterz: Excuse me, but I have been competing in World Cup races since 2007.
BB: I’m sorry, Regina, but our fact checkers at the Blickbild are the best in the world. We could find no record of anybody named Regina Sterz skiing as a junior for your club or on the Europa Cup circuit. You suddenly materialized on the World Cup tour without any prior record. That is very unusual. It may even be a first in Alpine skiing.
Mandl: You are right. I have never before had a skier who suddenly emerged on the World Cup without going through our junior team and spending time on the Europa Cup circuit before coming up to the World Cup. But it was like Regina walked onto our team out of nowhere and started performing well. I have never seen anything like this before and probably never will again.  
Sterz: I did compete as a junior for my club and on the Europa Cup circuit. In fact, I have two Europa Cup wins and eight podiums.
BB: Anna, you will compete in four out of the five disciplines in Schladming. In which ones do you think you will have the best chances for a medal?
Fenninger: I would like to defend my title in the combined event. But I think that I have the best chances for a medal in either the giant slalom or Super-G.
BB: How prepared do you feel for the world championships in your country?
Fenninger: I feel very good physically, but there is one thing missing: my former teammate Regina Mader. She and I were good friends and I miss her. I wish that Regina Mader could also compete in Schladming.
Sterz: Hello! I was Regina Mader.
BB: According to our sources in Austria, Regina Mader vanished without a trace in the summer of 2012. Do any of you know if the police have made any progress in the investigation into her sudden disappearance?
Mandl: From what I have been told, the police are following several leads. One source in the police department said that Regina Mader had been kidnapped by a band of Gypsies and is travelling around Europe with them. This seems to be the most promising lead so far.
Goergl: I heard that she got burned out on racing and decided to move to an island in the South Pacific, where she opened a resort hotel.
Fenninger: I heard she got abducted by space aliens.
BB: It sounds like nobody really knows what really happened to Regina Mader. She was an integral part of the Austrian ski team one day and gone the next.
Sterz: Excuse me, but I can tell you exactly what happened to Regina Mader. I was her until last summer. Then I got married and changed my name to Sterz, which is my husband’s name.
BB: You do have a very strong resemblance to Regina Mader.
Mandl: Regina Sterz does really resemble Regina Mader in the way she skis. They both have the same style, strengths, and weaknesses.
Fenninger: Yes, Regina Mader and Regina Sterz really look like they could be sisters. If I didn’t know that they are two different people, I would have thought that they were twins.
BB: Herr Mandl, how often do you have two skiers who have the exact same style of skiing and the same strengths and weaknesses?
Mandl: In all of the years that I have been a trainer, I have never seen anything like it. Every skier that I have worked with has a different style. But both Reginas ski exactly alike. It is uncanny!
BB: What do you think of the coincidence that Regina Sterz suddenly appeared with the team at the exact time that Regina Mader disappeared? Here is the theory that the researchers from the Blickbild came up with. (looking at Regina and pointing at  her) You killed Regina Mader!  In order to cover up your crime and deflect attention from yourself as a murderer, you started calling yourself Regina Sterz.
Sterz: WHAT!?! I never killed anybody! Let me explain this one more time. I was Regina Mader until last summer, when I got married and changed my name to Sterz to honor my husband.
BB: Isn’t it customary for female skiers to hyphenate their names so that they are recognized by their fans? Look at Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden. They both got married and hyphenated their names.
Goergl: I have been competing on the World Cup circuit since 2000 and the skiers who get married hyphenate their names. Annemarie wasn’t simply Annemarie Moser after she got  married; she was Annemarie Moser-Proell. She set the standard for all to follow.
Sterz: Lindsey Kildow became Lindsey Vonn without hyphenating her name. People still know who she is. Nobody made accusations of Lindsey being abducted by aliens or being a murderer when she changed her name after getting married.
Goergl: That’s because nobody in the States noticed that Lindsey changed her name. The only people in the States who follow ski racing are the racers’ families and a few of their good friends. But in Europe the fans follow everything that ski racers do and it’s important not to confuse them.
BB: You are absolutely correct, Lizz. To prepare for this interview I watched videotapes of the women’s races this year. None of the commentators on any channel could figure out who Regina Sterz was. I watched ORF, Eurosport in various languages, and all of the other European, North American, South American, African, Australian, and Asian sports channels. Now if a commentator, who is supposed to know everything, is confused, imagine how the average fan must feel.
Sterz: Most women take their husbands’ names when they get married. It’s a normal thing.
BB: Lizz, I would like to ask you about defending your titles in Schladming. Do you think you have a good chance of being “golden Lizz” in Schladming like you were in Garmisch two years ago?
Goergl: It will be hard because I am having a poor season and the other women are very good. Tina Maze will be especially hard to beat. If I win a medal, I will dedicate it to Regina Mader, wherever she is.
Sterz: I am right here. I simply changed my name from Mader to Sterz when I got married.
BB: Regina, that’s obviously a very sensitive topic with your teammates and we should stick to skiing and the upcoming world championships. What are the Austrians’ chances for medals in Schladming?
Mandl: Austria is ready to pick up where it left off in Garmisch and we hope to come away with many medals in Schladming. We have a very good chance to do that with our strong team. Our technical skiers aren’t here for this interview, but they are also very strong and should come away with medals. The home crowd should inspire our ladies to do their best.
BB: Best of luck in Schladming.
Goergl: Thank you. I hope to earn at least one medal in my home championships.
Fenninger: Thank you. I hope to have luck on my side and also win at least one medal in front of the home fans.  Like Lizz, if I win a medal, I will also dedicate it to Regina Mader.
Sterz: I have two goals in Schladming. The first is to win a medal. The second is to end this confusion once and for all over who I really am.  I never realized that the concept of a woman changing her name when she got married could be so complex. You’d think it was rocket science or quantum physics.
BB: And that concludes another exclusive Boston Blickbild interview. The Blickbild will be in Schladming reporting all of the action at the 2013 World Championships.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All the news that the others ignore.

Monday, January 21, 2013

German Skiers Consult Witch Doctor

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The Boston Blickbild never gives up when it comes to bringing readers the stories that nobody else dares to print. For this particular story the first reporter and interpreter that we sent to the heart of the Congo, where no Western man has gone before, never returned. So we sent another reporter and interpreter. They also never came back. Either through sheer determination or total stupidity, we sent another reporter and interpreter. They did come back and are part of this Blickbild exclusive interview along with Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Lena Duerr, their trainer Christian Schwaiger, and even the witch doctor himself. Our condolences go to the families of the journalists and interpreters who perished in the Congo. We will miss those members of our Blickbild family.

BB: Tell our readers why you decided to consult a witch doctor and not a regular sports psychologist.
Hoefl-Riesch: I have been having problems with my confidence since the last part of the 2010-11 season. It has to do with my friend Lindsey Vonn. Every time she does well, it affects me. She is simply amazing and wins races so easily.
Schwaiger: Maria is one of the top skiers in the world and definitely the best all-around racer. She has no weak discipline, unlike the others on the World Cup.  She is a world champion, an Olympic gold medalist, and a World Cup overall champion. But put her anywhere near Lindsey Vonn and she falls apart. She lets Lindsey get inside her head.
Hoefl-Riesch: Lindsey is practically unbeatable. She is fantastic. Nobody compares to her, especially in the speed races.  I will never be as good as her.
Schwaiger: At first we consulted a sports psychologist. The German Ski Federation (DSV) found someone who was willing to work with our skiers. Dr. Mueller used to work on mental training for the Swiss men’s speed team this season.
BB: Didn’t the fact that Dr. Mueller worked with this season’s Swiss men’s speed team give you a hint that he was not the best choice?
Schwaiger: The DSV needed to do something to help Maria get her self-belief back and Dr. Mueller’s fee was very cheap. After Lindsey Vonn came back from her break earlier this season and started moving up the overall standings, Maria’s performances got worse and worse. She was doing fine while Lindsey was taking her break. But as soon as Lindsey came back, Maria started falling apart. She needed immediate therapy.
BB: And then you consulted a hypnotist after you fired Dr. Mueller, correct?
Schwaiger: Right. He had Maria practice relaxing and imagining herself crossing the finish line of a race in first place. But as soon as Maria saw Lindsey hanging out by the start house before the race in Cortina, she couldn’t keep the image of herself as a winner in her head. Her confidence left her and Lindsey got back into her head.
Hoefl-Riesch: After both the psychologist and hypnotist failed to get Lindsey out of my head, I decided to find an exorcist. I thought he would be able to exorcise the demons that Lindsey put in my head and then my confidence would return. But Lindsey is the absolute best. She is impossible to beat.
BB: What happened with the exorcist?
Hoefl-Riesch: He performed a standard exorcism ritual. I felt something come out of me and I ended up vomiting it up. The exorcist examined my vomit and didn’t find any demons. But he could tell that I had schnitzel and salad for lunch. Lindsey made that meal for me because she is such a nice person in addition to being an unbeatable skier.
BB: And that’s when you decided to find a witch doctor?
Schwaiger: Correct. That’s when the DSV contacted the Blickbild about bringing Dr. Mabongo to Germany. The Blickbild had run a series on witch doctors in the Congo and Dr. Mabongo was featured in it. He seemed like the perfect person to help both Maria and Lena.
BB: I can understand why Maria needs a witch doctor. But why does Lena need one?
Schwaiger: Lena also has problems with self-confidence. She will have one good run and one terrible one in a technical race.  This pattern has persisted for the past few seasons and Lena needs help breaking it. If Dr. Mabongo can help all of those natives in the Congo, he could certainly help Maria and Lena.
Duerr: When I see how well Mikaela Shiffrin and other young skiers are doing on the World Cup, it makes me feel like I’m failing somehow. My trainers say that I simply need more experience on the World Cup circuit and then everything will come together. But I have been competing in World Cup races since 2008 and feel like a failure because younger skiers keep passing me up. Maria is my idol and I want to be as successful as she is. If she is not ashamed to ask for help, then I shouldn’t be either.
Hoefl-Riesch: Thank you for the compliment, but the real person who should be your idol is Lindsey. If you aspire to be like her, you will be unbeatable.
BB: I’ll let the reporter who ventured to the Congo explain how he found Dr. Mabongo and brought him to Germany to help the skiers.
Reporter: I flew into Brazzaville, then had a two day drive into the heart of the jungle. When the road ended, I had to walk for eight hours to reach Dr. Mabongo’s village. I was greeted by tribesmen pointing spears at me and speaking in an incomprehensible language. Thank goodness for my trusty interpreter. The interpreter said that we were going to end up like the others who dared to enter the village. I looked to my right and saw 4 shrunken heads on tall stakes. They were the heads of the reporters and interpreters who never came back. Now I know what happened to them. Somehow I still had my wits about me because just as I was about to be thrown into a pot of boiling water and turned into soup, I reached into my pocket and pulled out autograph cards of Maria and Lena. The natives had a look of shock on their faces, then they suddenly bowed down to me, after which they got up and ran away. About 10 minutes later they returned with Dr. Mabongo. The doctor was an imposing presence as he drew himself up to his full height of 125 cm. He took the autograph cards, looked at them, and said, “Poor Maria. I thought she got her confidence back after she took that short break last season. And now Lena is having problems. But you came to the right place because I can help them.” The DSV provided Dr. Mabongo with a plane ticket to Germany. Dr. Mabongo packed up his potions, magic bones, drums, voodoo dolls, and juju beads and we headed back to Germany. Dr. Mabongo told me that he normally doesn’t make house calls, but he was willing to make an exception to help Maria and Lena.
BB: Herr Schwaiger, do you think that Dr. Mabongo will be the one to help Maria and Lena?
Schwaiger: Neither a psychologist, nor a hypnotist, nor an exorcist could help my skiers. A witch doctor may be just what Maria and Lena need, especially Maria. In her last three races she had two DNFs and a 19th place. She can’t get much worse.
BB: Dr. Mabongo, what makes you qualified to work with Maria and Lena?
Dr. Mabongo (speaking through an interpreter): All of the first-born sons in my family have been witch doctors since the world was created by a swarm of giant mosquitoes many moons ago.
BB: The Earth was created by a swarm of giant mosquitoes? What the…?
Dr. Mabongo: Of course it was! How else could it have been created?
BB: Uh, right. Anyway Dr. Mabongo, how do you plan to treat Maria and Lena?
Dr. Mabongo:  Lena will be easier to treat because she is still young.  Maria will be harder, but in the end she too will be cured. First I will use my juju beads to bring good juju to both women.  Then I will wave my magic bones over their heads while singing the Witch Doctor song. I will also play the Witch Doctor song on my drums to allow the magic to penetrate their bodies. Before races they will sing the Witch Doctor song chorus to themselves. It will make them smile and therefore relax. I am also making three special voodoo dolls: one of Maria, one of Lena, and one of Lindsey Vonn. I will have the Maria and Lena dolls ski on a practice race course that I will build out of Legos. I will have the Maria doll win every race on the practice course. The Lena doll will have two clean and fast runs on a slalom and giant slalom course in its practice races. Both women will also get a magic charm made out of juju beads to wear under their speed suits that will bring them luck in their races. They will also drink a special potion made from the fruit of the baobab tree at every meal.
BB: You said that the Maria and Lena dolls will do well on their practice race courses. What is the Lindsey doll for?
Dr. Mabongo:  I will stick pins in the Lindsey doll’s legs and stomach. The real Lindsey will get weak legs and stomach aches, causing her to lose races. In the end Maria will realize that Lindsey can be beaten and her self-belief will come back. I worked with Tina Maze last summer and she is now the best female racer by far this season. If I can do that for Tina, I can help Maria and Lena.
BB: One more question, Dr. Mabongo. When our reporter arrived in your village, and pulled out his autograph cards, how did your fellow tribesmen recognize Maria and Lena? Your village is in the heart of the Congo, in the middle of a dense jungle where very few others have ever been.
Dr. Mabongo: First of all, my tribe has been featured in National Geographic. Many teenagers got their first looks at naked people through reading about my tribe in National Geographic. Secondly, there is a village that is a twelve-hour walk from my village through the densest jungle in Africa. Austrian missionaries tried to convert the villagers there to Christianity and also brought a TV for their own entertainment. The missionaries were killed but the villagers kept the TV, which only receives the Austrian channel ORF. Every week we walk to that village to watch TV. And what do you think is on ORF? Ski racing and interviews with ski racers. I know all of the World Cup ski racers from watching ORF and even learned German.
BB: Very interesting story, Dr. Mabongo. Herr Schwaiger, do you think that Dr. Mabongo can help Maria and Lena in time for next weekend’s races in Maribor?
Schwaiger: I hope so. If Maria and Lena do well in Maribor, the DSV will hire Dr. Mabongo to work with the whole team.
BB: Maria and Lena, good luck to you next week in Maribor. I hope that Dr. Mabongo will help restore your confidence.
Hoefl-Riesch: Thank you. Lindsey will be very hard to beat there.
Duerr: Thank you. Please let me have two good runs for once.
Schwaiger: It looks like Dr. Mabongo will have his work cut out for him. But I am confident that a witch doctor will be just the right medicine for Maria and Lena. They will be on the podium in Maribor next weekend.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All the news that the others are too wimpy to print.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New Legal Action from Skier Lindsey Vonn (and more)

A Boston Blickbild exclusive interview

Nothing gets in the way of our reporters getting the stories that interest our readers. The Blickbild was chosen by US skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn, not once, but twice as one of the few news sources to whom she will speak. We are privileged to bring you the latest from Ms. Vonn.

BB: Tell us how it feels to come back to competing on the World Cup circuit after a short absence.
LV: First of all, four weeks is not a short break. It seemed like an eternity. I’m so happy to be back and feel so strong and fit.
BB: When I think of racers taking long breaks, I tend to think of skiers like Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Daniel Albrecht, Suzi Riesch, and Chemmy Alcott. Your time away from racing was much shorter than theirs.
LV: I can’t help it if others are such wimps that they can’t get out of bed and onto skis with a broken leg, torn ligaments, or after being put into a coma. Maybe they should be more careful. I never had such severe injuries. Even with my belly ache and depression, which are the worst things ever, I was able to get back onto my skis quickly.
BB: Anyway, how do you feel after your comeback in St. Anton last weekend?
LV: I feel great and satisfied with my performances in both races. I was so lucky to finish as high as I did. It feels so good to be back racing. I feel stronger and fitter than ever. I felt like I improved from Saturday to Sunday. After all, I went from 6th place on Saturday to 4th place on Sunday.
BB: On Saturday you finished 0.34 seconds out of first place, yet on Sunday you were exactly one second behind Tina Maze. How is that an improvement?
LV: Fourth place is better than sixth. Duh!
BB: Tell our readers how you really felt in St. Anton.
LV: Okay. First of all, Alice had the nerve to be better than me. She is supposed to be one of the subordinate members of the team and she dared to win the race. Laurenne also had the gall to finish ahead of me. Who does she think she is? Then in the Super-G Tina, Anna, and Fabienne evidently never got the memo that said that I could start at the Super-G start while everyone else had to start at the higher downhill start so that I would be guaranteed victory.  Then to add insult to injury, Fabienne stole a podium spot from me by 0.01 seconds. I should have been on the podium instead of Fabienne. She will never be my friend.
BB: Who do you think will win in Cortina?
LV: Why me of course! I will be back to full strength in Cortina and will show everyone what I can really do. Nobody will be able to beat me in Cortina! I am so happy to be back competing. I missed my colleagues so much.
BB: Speaking of colleagues, you were in the team photo with Alice McKennis after her maiden win last Saturday. Does this mean you are becoming closer to your teammates?
LV: Uh…no. I just got into that photo because I didn’t win the race and it was my only opportunity to get into a photo with a first place award in it. I didn’t have my Olympic gold medal with me, which would have been perfect for the occasion. I’ll have to remember to have it with me the next time I lose a race. I didn’t bring it to St. Anton because I didn’t expect to lose.
BB: What is your relationship with current overall World Cup leader Tina Maze? Have you patched up things since the “Fuck you, Maze” misunderstanding?
LV: Tina is a great competitor and this is her year. She is really running away with the cup now, isn’t she? I’m so happy for her being part of an elite group of women who have won races in every discipline.  I even congratulated her on her win Sunday. There was a TV camera in the area, so of course I had to do it.
BB: Tina is on track to break 2000 points this season. How would that make you feel if she became the first woman to do it?
LV: Do we have to talk about this? I will become too depressed and devastated to carry on with this interview.
BB: Fair enough.  Please tell our readers how you really feel about Tina.
LV: She is the epitome of evil! She knows that I had a stomach ache and felt sad and yet she continues to rack up the points and pull even further ahead of me in the overall standings. She should be burned at the stake and the ashes thrown into a cesspool! If we’re not allowed to burn witches anymore, then she should take a bath in strong acid. She really needs to have both of her legs amputated above the knees!
If there was justice in the world, then Tina would die a slow painful death. But I’m so happy now.
BB: Yes, I can tell that you are very happy. I bet that you are also happy for your best friend, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, being second in the overall standings.
LV: Maria will never be a winner because she lets me get inside her head. I’m good at that, aren’t I? I’m very happy that Maria isn’t leading the overall standings after what she did to me two seasons ago. Some things just can’t be forgotten or forgiven.
BB: Your young teammate Mikaela Shiffrin said that sometimes you give her tips. But she also said that you are very busy and she doesn’t like to bother you.
LV: Mikaela is a very smart girl and will go far. She has already learned who the queen bee on the US team is. We queen bees don’t have time to be bothered mentoring the younger members.  I am a very busy person between looking out for myself and my performances and all of my red carpet appearances. Nobody was there to help me when I was 17. Mikaela has to sink or swim like I had to. But if she ever comes close to breaking my records, she will be very sorry.
BB: Tell our readers about your progress with the FIS in your battle to compete with men.
LV: I really want to compete against men because the women are so boring. Also, most of the women on the World Cup circuit don’t like me. I just don’t understand why. Maybe the men will like me better. Anyway, competing with men will be a new challenge.
BB: How is your sex discrimination lawsuit against the FIS proceeding?
LV: When I was home during my break, I talked to my father. Daddy is a lawyer and can give me good advice. But it turned out that I was suing the wrong people. It’s not the FIS’s fault that I was born a woman. It was my father’s. I have now hired a different lawyer, have dropped my suit against the FIS, and am now suing my father for wrongful ejaculation.
BB: Wrongful ejaculation? I never heard of that before.
LV: Let me explain it…Mommy and Daddy love each other very much. They decided that they wanted to have a baby. Unfortunately, Daddy was the one who had the sperm with the X chromosome that fertilized Mommy’s egg. If he had done things differently, I would have been a man. Then I wouldn’t be stuck with all of these silly women who have nothing to do but create drama. Every time I’m around at the races, there always seems to be drama with the women.
BB: How does your father feel about being sued for you being born female?
LV: Daddy has no say in the matter. He wouldn’t talk to me when I was married to Thomas. He only wanted me in his life after I got divorced. But he should pay for me being born a woman and not being able to race against men. I have dreamed about racing against men since I strapped on my first set of skis and my father took that away from me because he gave me an X chromosome instead of a Y. He should pay for what he did. Part of the reason for my depression and stomach aches were from the anguish caused by my father giving me the wrong genetic makeup. I’m very happy with the progress that my lawyer is making, almost as happy as I am to be back competing at my current level of fitness and strength.
BB: We’re very happy that the Blickbild is one of the few media outlets that you will talk to. As usual, it was a real privilege to talk to you. Good luck in Cortina!
LV: I don’t need luck. I just need to make sure that the wind won’t blow during my run and I’ll win by 5 seconds because I’m so happy, strong, and fit. The next interview with you will be from the top stand of the podium in Cortina.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All the news that even the tabloids won’t print.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Swiss Men to Compete Against Women in 2013/14

A Boston Blickbild exclusive interview

The Swiss men’s speed team has had a very disappointing season. The season started on a low note when 2012 overall runner-up Beat Feuz announced that he was taking the season off to let a knee injury and infection heal. The team’s veterans, Carlo Janka, Silvan Zurbriggen, and Didier Defago, often finished out of the points in their races. Younger team members Sandro Viletta and Marc Gisin also performed poorly. The crisis affecting the Swiss team was all over the press. Every Swiss and international news bureau covered the story. Because of the poor performances of the Swiss men, they were given special permission by the International Ski Federation (FIS) to compete in women’s races starting next season. The Blickbild was granted an exclusive interview with Janka, Zurbriggen, Defago, and Gisin. Viletta was unfortunately unavailable. This interview was conducted before Carlo Janka’s 3rd place finish in today’s Wengen super-combined race.

BB: Tell us why you think your performances have been unusually poor this season.
Janka: I had a mystery virus, a heart procedure, and back problems. Then I lost my mojo.
Zurbriggen: For me it is age. I am way past my prime and should have retired three years ago to work in a chocolate factory.
Defago: Everyone goes through up and down periods. Unfortunately the whole team seems to be on a big down cycle. It’s contagious. One guy has a bad run and then the others copy him.
Gisin:  I had an unhappy childhood because Mum always liked Dominique better than me.
BB: What have you been doing to try and improve your mental state and performances on the race course?
Zurbriggen: I am trying to channel (retired teammate) Didier Cuche and have even learned how to do his post-run ski flip. Didier was a late bloomer and maybe I am one too.
Defago: I am also channeling the other Didier by shaving my head. If I can look like the other Didier, I should also be able to ski like him.
Janka: Aksel Lund Svindal and I are about the same size. I planned to go into his hotel room, steal his speed suit, and replace it with mine. I would ski as Aksel and he as me. That way someone in a Swiss speed suit would do well in a race and the press would stop writing negative articles about us. But my plan was foiled because as soon as I broke into his hotel room, his two attack-trained reindeer, Olaf and Thor, gored me in the belly with their antlers. I was lucky to escape with my life!
Gisin: Here’s an example of how Mum liked Dominique better than me. Both of us tore our ACLs last season. Dominique was sent to the finest orthopedic clinic in Zurich to have her knee repaired. The best surgeons in Switzerland operated on her. Where did Mum send me? To the medical school in Geneva! Medical students operated on my knee! No wonder she is having better results than me this season!
BB: How do you view your chances for winning a medal at the world championships in Schladming in a few weeks?
Zurbriggen: I would love a medal, but the chances of me winning one are slim to none.
Janka: If I can find my mojo before Schladming, I have a good chance of winning a medal.
Defago: Anything is possible. Nobody expected me to win an Olympic gold medal in Vancouver and I did.
Gisin: Here’s more proof about how Mum loved Dominique more than me. All of Dominique’s medals and trophies are on display at my parents’ house. Mum told me that there is no room to display mine and I had to put them in the cellar.
BB: How did you decide that racing against women would solve the crisis with the speed team?
Defago: When I finished the downhill in Lake Louise last November in 57th place, someone shouted at me, “You ski like a girl!” when I was in the finish area. That really stung. If I was going to ski like a girl, I might as well race with them.
Janka: I was 47th in Val Gardena this year. Christian Simari-Birkner, the perennial last place finisher, actually did better than me in that race. He even tweeted, “Wasn’t dead last today! Beat the pants off of Carlo Janka!” When I read that, I thought that if I skied with the women he would go back to being last place again. If the women started beating me, I could steal one of Lindsey Vonn’s speed suits. We’re both about the same size. Imagine the fun it would be skiing as her and she as me.
Zurbriggen: As I said before, I was working on doing the Didier Cuche ski flip. When I finished my run in Beaver Creek, which was only good enough for 45th place, I loosened up my binding and flipped my ski. Unfortunately, the ski went too far. The next skier down after me, who was from the Central African Republic, happened to finish about 5 seconds after I did. And he was in a snowplow! Anyway, my ski sailed over my shoulder and hit the African skier in the head. The last I heard, he is still in a coma on life support. But that got me thinking. Coming in just ahead of an African snowplower made me realize that I’m not good enough to compete with the men anymore and that I should race against the ladies.
Gisin: If I raced against women, and beat Dominique, then Mum would have to love me as much as she loves Dominique. I would show Mum who the best skier in the family really is! She would finally be proud of me.
BB: When Lindsey Vonn tried to race against men, the FIS turned her down. The FIS told her that men and women should have their separate races, though women can be forerunners in men’s races. How did you get the FIS to let you race against women?
Defago: Let’s just say that our performances this season speak for themselves.
Zurbriggen: Yeah, we stink!
Janka: We were so bad that Gunther Hujara set up a special meeting of the FIS board to grant us an exemption to the normal rules of competition.
Gisin: Here’s what really sealed the deal with the FIS. Dominique has her pilot’s license. I wanted to get my pilot’s license too, but Mum said that one pilot in the family is enough. I wish that Mum didn’t love Dominique more. She even loves my younger sister Michelle more than me.
Janka: Marc, we’re all sick and tired of you going on about how your mother doesn’t love you. Grow up and get over it already! I took a break during this season to find my mojo and nobody wrote about my comeback. Every newspaper, magazine, and TV channel had stories about Lindsey Vonn’s big comeback. I had about the same amount of time off and nobody mentioned anything about my big comeback in Adelboden. It was like I didn’t exist anymore despite being a world, Olympic, and World Cup overall champion. There were no parades or even trumpets playing a special fanfare at the races. But do you hear me whining about being neglected by the press? No! I sucked it up and moved on with my life. You need to do the same.
BB: How do you think you will do against the women next season?
Janka: I could become the first skier in World Cup history to win both a men’s and women’s overall Globe. How cool is that!
Defago: We’ll restore glory to the Swiss men’s team by taking all of the podium spots in the women’s races.
Zurbriggen: I can put off retirement even longer.
Gisin: Mum will finally be proud of me, unless she decides to hate me even more for beating Dominique in races.
BB: Thank you for your time and insights into the world of professional ski racing. Good luck competing against the women next season.
Zurbriggen: It was a pleasure, as always, talking with the Blickbild.
Janka: It is always interesting to talk with the Blickbild.
Defago: I enjoyed this interview very much.
Gisin: Wait until I tell Mum that I was interviewed by the Blickbild and Dominique wasn’t. That’s one point for me, a big fat zero for Dominique. Bwahahahahaha!

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true.