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.

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