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.

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