Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lindsey Vonn Blames Course Conditions for Injury

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

US skier Lindsey Vonn is blaming the International Ski Federation (FIS) for unsafe course conditions being the real cause of the injury that she incurred in at the World Championships in Schladming. The others have reported this story and it's already old news. So how can this be an exclusive story when the others have already written about it? Our intrepid reporters and researchers have found a unique angle on this story that the others did not dare to print. The Boston Blickbild was the only news outlet that Laura Kildow, Lindsey Vonn's sister, wanted to talk with. Laura is a blogger and aspiring writer. When Lindsey retires from racing, Laura plans to write a book about her experiences travelling with Lindsey. It will surely be an international best seller.  Let's hear what Laura has to say about Lindsey's injury and the conditions in Schladming.

BB: Laura, we at the Blickbild are happy to have you represent your sister while she is making the rounds of the talk shows.
Kildow: That's me. I've always been second fiddle to Lindsey. Nobody wants to talk with me unless Lindsey is unavailable. Then all of a sudden I'm the media's best friend.
BB:  How is Lindsey doing now?
Kildow: She was operated on just a few weeks ago and she is already riding an exercise bike, doing the stair master, lifting weights, doing back handsprings and flips on the floor, and training to run a marathon.
BB: I'm sorry, you said that Lindsey is preparing to run a marathon with torn knee ligaments and a bone fracture in her leg? You do realize that a marathon is 26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers?
Kildow: That's right. But Lindsey is superhuman and can do anything. When she comes back to the World Cup, the first thing she wants to do is challenge the other women to a marathon race. And she will win! After she beats the women in a marathon, she wants to challenge all of the men on the World Cup to a marathon. She will beat them all too!
BB: So we can expect Lindsey to be at the Sochi Olympics next year?
Kildow: Oh yes! Even if she gets a little behind schedule on her rehabilitation, she will only need one week of preparation to be ready for the Olympics. She also plans to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in artistic gymnastics, the men's decathlon, and the marathon. She will win gold medals in all of those events because nobody can beat her!
BB: Why did Lindsey choose to have her surgery in the States? Austria has some of the top orthopedic surgeons and rehab facilities in the world.
Kildow: That Austrian hospital was awful! First of all, everything was in German. The doctors and nurses all spoke German too.
BB: German is the national language of Austria.
Kildow: Well it should be English so that people can understand what everyone is saying and read the signs. It's a good thing that Lindsey's doctor was with us. He speaks German and helped explain things to me. He even got better food for Lindsey and me than that weird schnitzel and goulasch.  We went from that horrible Austrian hospital with bleak corridors and 12 people to a room to a proper hospital in Colorado. I had to give up my bed in the recreational vehicle so the doctor could have it and sleep on the floor while we were in Schladming. But in the end it was worth it.
BB: What is it like to travel with Lindsey?
Kildow: It's great! I love being with my sister, even though she gets all of the attention and I'm merely a background ornament. Let me tell you about our recreational vehicle. Lindsey has a king-sized bed and I sleep on an army cot with a lumpy mattress. She has a big screen TV and I have a tiny portable black and white one. I also have to cook all of our lunches and dinners. She does make breakfast, but she always puts too much milk in my cereal so I end up having to make my own breakfast too.
BB: When you drive together, who does the driving?
Kildow: Again, I have to do all of the driving. You don't realize how difficult it is to drive in Europe! The streets are so narrow and there are no signs. I don't know how people travel in Europe without a navigation system. It's so hard just with a map.
BB: Yet somehow the 11th and 12 century crusaders were able to travel from Spain, Italy, France and Germany to Jerusalem without a navigation system or even detailed maps.
Kildow: Well it was a simpler time. Now things are much more difficult. I don't think they even had cars back then.
BB: They didn't. Cars weren't invented until much later. Anyway, tell our readers why Lindsey felt that the conditions in Schladming were unsafe.
Kildow: First of all, it was very foggy in Schladming during Lindsey's run.
BB: Our intrepid researchers watched the video of Lindsey's accident more times than they cared to. It was perfectly clear during her run.
Kildow: Lindsey would have won the race. She was leading the race up until that point.
BB: Again, our intrepid research team watched the video. You are correct that she was leading after the first split. But at the second split, just before she hit the jump, she was behind the leader Tina Maze by 0.12 seconds. How is that leading the race when she lost time between the first and second splits?
Kildow: Well, she would have won if the course was safer. The race was also delayed. But what really caused the accident was that there was soft snow where Lindsey landed her jump. Someone didn't do a good job clearing the course. The snow was starting to soften because of the delays, but nobody cared. Look what happened. Lindsey got hurt because of careless course preparation.
BB: I can almost see your logic. But nobody else was badly hurt during the Super-G race. Ski racing is an outdoor sport and always has a risk of injury.
Kildow: Yes, but Lindsey had a hard season with her stomach aches and depression. She didn't need an uncaring course worker in Schladming to add to her misery. The FIS is going to pay for what they did to Lindsey! Daddy is a lawyer and he is looking into how he can sue the FIS for all of her pain and suffering. I don't know which was worse for her, the knee injury or the stomach aches and depression.
BB: What do you think your chances are of winning a lawsuit against the FIS?
Kildow: We will win! The FIS will give Lindsey everything that she wants because she is entitled to it. We will also sue Tina Maze and the country of Slovenia for Lindsey's injury.
BB: I can possibly understand why Lindsey wants to sue the FIS. But what does Slovenia have to do with how the course was prepared? The course workers were Austrian and not Slovenian.
Kildow: Tina Maze won the gold medal, which was rightfully Lindsey's. This season Tina has been a big reason why Lindsey had stomach aches and depression. She is not only winning the overall globe, she is also stealing the glory that should have been Lindsey's for earning 2000 points in a season. Guess which country Tina is from? Slovenia. That whole country should be sued for producing a person who caused my sister such pain and suffering this season.
BB: (showing Laura a map of Europe) Can you show me where Slovenia is?
Laura: (pointing to Estonia) Right here! They just spell it differently than we do because they use the Russian alphabet and not the normal one.
BB: Ah, that must be why Slovenia is spelled E-S-T-O-N-I-A. (short pause) Other athletes also got injured in Schladming and they are not suing the FIS or Slovenia. They are back home recovering. They are also not making the rounds of talk shows.
Kildow: Nobody cares about them because they are not Lindsey Vonn.
BB: Lindsey does have a habit of blaming the course or the FIS when things don't go her way. At the 2010 Olympics she said that the conditions should not be so difficult. I guess the courses were hard for her because she failed to finish three out of her five races.
Kildow: As you recall, she also had a bruised shin and needed treatment with special Austrian cheese to heal it. That was very painful, almost as much as her belly aches and depression.
BB: In 2011 she said that the world championship course in Garmisch was unsafe, yet she still competed there with a concussion. Now she is saying that Schladming was unsafe. Do you sense a pattern here?
Kildow: No I don't sense any pattern.  Lindsey always feels that safety is important.
BB: Laura, do you realize that under new rules that will take effect next season, athletes will no longer be allowed to complain about course conditions? If Lindsey complains like this next season, she will have to race in a mask of shame.
Kildow: Nobody told me about it. That doesn't sound very nice.
BB: One more thing before we conclude this interview. You just said that Lindsey feels that safety is important. But the first downhill in Lake Louise had fog delays and other racers complained that they couldn't see very well through the fog. How was Lake Louise different than Schladming?
Kildow: The other women must be very poor skiers because they couldn't get down the course through a little bit of fog. I can't believe that the other women on the World Cup are such crybabies. They are just sore losers because they can't beat Lindsey. No wonder she wants to race against men! Anyway, the race in Lake Louise was obviously safe because Lindsey won it. Duh!
BB: And when two races in Lenzerheide were cancelled two years ago for safety reasons, Lindsey complained about it being unfair and a catastrophe. If she is so pro-safety, she would have understood the FIS's reason for the cancellations.
Kildow: We all know what happened in Lenzerheide. The FIS took a bribe from the German delegation to cancel the races and give the overall globe to Maria Riesch. Those cancelled races had nothing to do with safety and everything to do with ensuring that Lindsey didn't win the overall globe. There is a big difference between Schladming, Lake Louise and Lenzerheide.
BB: Laura, I want to thank you for this interview. You are just as interesting an interview subject as your sister. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: If it's in the Blickbild, it must be true.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

How to Make Your Own Ojlmsfjaegger

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
 We at the Blickbild have been innundated with letters and e-mail asking us for recipes for ojlmsfjaegger. As every Norwegian knows from earliest childhood, ojlmsfjaegger are special treats that are served for a person's birthday. Ojlmsfjaegger are pickled reindeer hearts covered in a chocolate and smoked salmon sauce. They are loved by children and adults alike. Since we at the Blickbild do not have any Norwegians on our staff, we decided to send one of our intrepid reporters to Norway to learn all about ojlmsfjaegger. Our reporter met with injured Norwegian skier Kjetil Jansrud, who shared his grandmother's special ojlmsfjaegger recipe with our readers. He also gave us his secret tips for making perfect ojlmsfjaegger that everyone will love.
BB: First of all, Kjetil, we at the Blickbild want to wish you a speedy and full recovery from your knee injury.
Jansrud: Thank you. It will be a long road, but I should recover fully. Grandma's ojlmsfjaegger will be a big part of my recovery plan.
BB: Aren't you only supposed to eat them on birthdays?
Jansrud: Every day is someone's birthday, right? (smiles)
BB: That's true. In most countries people eat cake, ice cream, or other sweets on their birthdays. How did Norway come up with eating reindeer organs with fish sauce and chocolate?
Jansrud: Not just any reindeer organs, just the hearts. You have a lot to learn about Norwegian party cuisine.
BB: I evidently do.
Jansrud: In Norway we have a lot of reindeer and salmon. We pickle the reindeer organs to preserve them, even though we now have refrigerators and freezers. Smoked salmon is also one of Norway's national foods. Someone a long time ago had the idea of combining pickled reindeer hearts with smoked salmon.  A little bit of chocolate added to them gives them just the right amount of sweetness. Every family has its own variation on the basic recipe.
BB: What is Grandma Jansrud's ojlmsfjaegger recipe?
Jansrud:  Grandma starts with a small to medium sized reindeer heart, which has been pickled in brine for at least six weeks.  Then she cuts the heart into cubes that are approximately one centimeter on each side. Reindeer hearts normally weigh between one and two-and-a-half kilograms (note to our US readers: that's about 2.2 to 5.5 pounds). But the smaller and medium hearts are the best. The larger ones are tougher and don't taste quite as good.
BB: Where does she get the reindeer hearts? Does someone in your family kill the reindeer or can you get reindeer hearts at the supermarket?
Jansrud: She buys them at a local butcher who sells the freshest meat in Norway. There are also jars of pickled reindeer hearts already cut into cubes that you can buy at a supermarket, but they aren't the same. You can even get reindeer hearts that are frozen in brine at the supermarket, but they are awful! If you want good ojlmsfjaegger, never buy frozen reindeer hearts.
BB: In most other countries reindeer aren't as plentiful as they are in Norway. Can someone substitute a beef,  deer, or moose heart because of the unavailability of fresh reindeer hearts?
Jansrud: I wouldn't do it. That sounds terrible! I would imagine that the taste of the hearts would be different and then it wouldn't be real ojlmsfjaegger. I'm not sure how they would mix with the smoked salmon and chocolate sauce.
BB:  What comes next after the reindeer hearts are cut into cubes?
Jansrud: Then we make the sauce. You need a big pot because the reindeer hearts will be put into the pot after the sauce is made. It's the best way to ensure that every side of the heart cubes are covered in sauce.
BB: Tell our readers how Grandma makes her sauce.
Jansrud: First she takes about 250 to 300 grams of smoked salmon and liquifies it in the blender or food processor. Grandma's smoked salmon is the best because she has her own smoker.
BB: Does the salmon have to be home-smoked, or can you use store-bought smoked salmon?
Jansrud: Home-smoked salmon makes the best ojlmsfjaegger. I have had it with smoked salmon from the supermarket, but it was not as good as Grandma's. Then Grandma puts 250 grams of butter and 250 grams of chocolate into the pot and melts them over low heat. When the butter and chocolate have melted together, she adds the salmon and stirs it all together.
BB: Does it matter if you use milk or dark chocolate?
Jansrud: I eat ojlmsfjaegger with either type of chocolate. But the secret to Grandma's ojlmsfjaegger is the butter. She uses reindeer butter instead of butter from cows. You can really taste the difference.
BB: I see. What happens when the sauce is ready?
Jansrud: Then Grandma puts the reindeer heart cubes into the pot and stirs them gently until they are all covered in sauce. You don't want to stir them too hard or they will get smashed. After the cubes of reindeer heart are covered in sauce, they are taken out of the pot one by one and placed on a plate or sheet of baking or wax paper and put into the refrigerator. They must stay in the refrigerator at least two hours to allow the sauce to cool and stick to the reindeer hearts. One of my fondest childhood memories was dipping my finger in the pot after all of the ojlmsfjaegger have been removed and licking the sauce from it.
BB: It doesn't seem like it takes very long to make ojlmsfjaegger. But women these days have careers and often don't have time to make them. Can you buy them in a bakery or pre-made in a grocery store instead of making them?
Jansrud: The best ojlmsfjaegger are homemade, especially Grandma's. The ones from the bakery are okay, and they will do in a pinch. But the ones from the grocery store have preservatives to keep them fresh on the shelf. Who knows how long they have been sitting in the store? I would never eat ojlmsfjaegger from a grocery store. The fresher, the better.
BB: Did you know that your teammate Aksel Lund Svindal bought Julia Mancuso a box of Milka chocolate hearts and replaced half of them with heart-shaped ojlmsfjaegger?
Jansrud: You go, Aksel! What a true romantic! Actually my teammate Henrik Kristoffersen and I were in on it too. Unfortunately, I had to leave Schladming because of my injury. But Aksel told me that he and Henrik finished making the ojlmsfjaegger hearts just in time. How did Julia like them?
BB: I heard that the box was empty before she left for Meribel and it looks like she survived.
Jansrud: I'm sure she enjoyed them very much because everybody loves ojlmsfjaegger. If she and Aksel get married, she will learn how to make them. Aksel also hates store-bought ojlmsfjaegger. It's also valid grounds for divorce in Norway if your wife can't make ojlmsfjaegger.  Speaking of homemade ojlmsfjaegger, I just happen to have some that Grandma made especially because she knew I was being interviewed by the Boston Blickbild. Would you like to try a piece?
BB: I'd really love to, but I had a very big lunch and am still full from it. But I'll take it with me.
Jansrud: No, you really must try it now.
BB: I'd like nothing better, but I'm having a big dinner tonight and need to save some room for it.
Jansrud: I did this interview with you because the Blickbild has the most intrepid reporters in the business. You're not very intrepid at all!
BB: OK, I'll try it.  (taking a piece of ojlmsfjaegger, then taking three deep breaths)  Here goes! (with eyes closed eats the piece of ojlmsfjaegger). Hey! This is really good! Do you think I can have some to take back to my hotel with me?
Jansrud: Of course. Grandma made a whole batch this morning for me to give to you. OK, I admit that I took a couple of pieces because I just couldn't resist.
BB: Kjetil, I want to thank you for your time and for the ojlmsfjaegger. Tell your grandmother that they are delicious. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters have eaten ojlmsfjaegger and lived to tell about it.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

More New Changes for the 2013/14 Season

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

One of the new innovations tried out during the recent World Championships in Schladming was the helmet camera. Several racers in the men's slalom race were shown with the "Helmet Cam" point of view. Reviews were mixed, with some fans thinking it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, while others preferred the more traditional view. The Helmet Cam is here to stay and will be worn by all racers starting next season. While others have published articles about the Helmet Cam, the Blickbild was  the first to report about the other changes that will take effect next season. But a new scoring system is on the horizon, which will make ski racing even more exciting for the fans. The Blickbild was granted an interview with the Gunther Hujara, the International Ski Federation's (FIS) Men's Chief World Cup Race Director, to discuss what's in store for the athletes and fans next season.

BB: Herr Hujara, we at the Blickbild are honored that you chose us as the one to announce this thrilling new change. Tell our readers about it.
Hujara: It will make races more suspenseful for the spectators. Instead of a speed race being decided before the first 30 skiers have finished, fans will have to wait for the last racer to finish before the winners are determined. The skiers with start numbers 31 and higher will actually have people watching them. This new system will also allow skiers in technical racers who finish outside the top 30 in their first runs to have an opportunity to earn World Cup points.
BB: But most of the time the winners in both speed and technical races have start numbers from 1 to 30.
Hujara: That is correct because they are usually the fastest. But starting next season, the fastest skier may not necessarily be the winner.
BB: That doesn't make sense. Ski races, like running or swimming races, are against the clock. The fastest person is the winner.
Hujara: It has been that way up until now. But fans want to watch more than just fast skiing. They want to see different people on the podium because they are tired of the same people winning all the time. Athlete safety is a big priority at the FIS, but so is making the races exciting for the fans. Suspense about the winner adds to the thrill. The FIS found the TV ratings for World Cup skiing have been declining and we are determined to reverse this trend. The Blickbild is not the only place with an intrepid research team. The FIS has one too. It may even be as intrepid as yours.
BB: Nobody's researchers are more intrepid than the Blickbild's, though the FIS team may be a close second. (short pause) Please explain how the new system for determining race winners will work.
Hujara: Speed will still be a big part of who wins a ski race. But skiers will also be judged on a combination of execution and artistic impression. Speed will count for two-thirds of a skier's score, with execution and artistic impression counting for one-third.
BB: Excuse me, Herr Hujara, but aren't you confusing Alpine skiing with figure skating or artistic gymnastics?
Hujara: Not at all. But figure skating and artistic gymnastics get the highest ratings at the Olympics, so the FIS thought it would incorporate some of the ideas from those sports into ski racing. 
BB: I see. How exactly will a skier's execution and artistic impression be determined?
Hujara: We will have a panel of six specially-trained judges watching the race. They will judge skiers on their appearance...
BB: Their appearance? What does that have to do with racing and being the fastest down the mountain?
Hujara: (in a stereotypically gay voice) It is very painful on the eyes when a skier's speed suit, boots, and helmet don't match. Look at someone like Maria Hoefl-Riesch. She wears a purple helmet, black and white speed suit with pink sleeves, and blue boots. Big time clash! The ski fashion police would arrest her in an instant! (back to his normal voice) At the FIS safety is our biggest priority. But we also believe that if an athlete looks good, he will feel good and therefore perform to his maximum potential. Skiers will also be judged on their execution and artistry. We call this the E and A score. Appearance is just one part of the E and A score.
BB: Please tell our readers how that works.
Hujara: I started to tell you before you interrupted and sidetracked me! Anyway, six judges will watch the athlete and give him or her a score for execution and artistic impression. The high and low score will be thrown out and the 4 middle scores will be averaged. A skier can score a maximum of 10 points for execution and artistry.
BB: How can you add time and points? They are different units. Do you plan to convert the racers' times to seconds and then add the execution score?
Hujara: Good question. Here's how the scoring will work. In speed races the fastest racer will get 10 points, the second, 9.9, the third 9.8 and down by one-tenth of a point for each place to the last finisher. The actual time won't count, it will be the place points. But they are related to speed, since the fastest racer gets the most points. That score will be doubled and the E and A score will be added to that score. In the slalom, giant slalom, and combined races, it will be slightly different. The top racer after the first run will get 10 points, second 9.9, third 9.8, etc. His or her E and A score for the first run will be divided by two. The skier with the best second run will receive 10 points, second best 9.9, third best 9.8 on down to the last finisher. His E and A score for that run will be divided by two. The points for time plus the E and A scores from both runs will be added together for the final score. Technical races will also allow everyone who finished the first run into the second. Like in the Olympics or World Championships, the top 30 will start in reverse order, then the 31st down to the last. Someone outside the top 30 could have a chance of earning points.
BB: That sounds rather confusing. Wouldn't it be much simpler for the fans if  time was the sole determination of who wins a race? That system has worked for many years and people can easily understand it. It doesn't get much simpler than the fastest person wins.
Hujara: Any change can be disorienting at first. I remember the days when racers wore knit beanies and used wooden skis. Our sport has changed with the new innovations in equipment technology and course safety. But we kept the same antiquated system of deciding who wins races. Now it is time to get into the 21st century and have a complex scoring system just like other sports use.
BB: How will the points work for World Cup globes?
Hujara: We will keep the current system of having the top 30 in each race earning points. Winners will get 100 points down to 30th place earning one point. It is just the system used to determine winners which will change.
BB: What if there is a tie after adding the time and E and A points?
Hujara: Then both racers will get the same number of World Cup points, just like now.
BB: What things are the judges looking for in both speed and technical races?
Hujara: In speed races, racers will be judged on how close to an ideal line they come, if they stay within the course lines, the form of their tuck position, their general body line and position, and how they land their jumps. In technical races the athletes will be judged on how smoothly they execute their turns, body line and position, body looseness or tension, and balance. They will also be judged on how well their boots and helmets match their speed suits.
BB: What sorts of things will be E and A deductions?
Hujara: In a speed race going out of bounds will be a 0.5 deduction. Skiers go out of bounds because they are not racing with good technique. Our courses are perfectly safe and there should be no reason to go outside the lines. Late turns will be a deduction as will sliding. Deductions will also be made for poor form in the air and during landings on jumps in downhill races. In technical races skiers will be deducted for looking like they are struggling with the gates and if their skis come apart during the turns. Small errors will be about 0.1 point each, but they can add up quickly. Straddling a gate in a slalom race is also a 0.5 point deduction. In all races, wearing speed suits, boots, and helmets with clashing colors will also be a deduction.
BB: What if an athlete fails to finish a race?
Hujara: He will still get E and A points for the portion of the course that he completed. For example, if a skier goes out at the 60 percent point of a downhill or Super-G, he will not get any time points but he will get an E and A score out of 10 points, which will be multiplied by 60 percent. In a two run race, if an athlete goes out in the first run, he will just get E and A points for the percentage of the course he completed. If he goes out in the second run, his partial E and A score from the second run will be added to his time and E and A scores from the first run.
BB: Whose idea was it to change the scoring system?
Hujara: There were two main forces behind changing the scoring system.The first was that fans get bored when the same people win races. Who wants to watch Lindsey Vonn win another downhill, Ted Ligety another giant slalom, and Marcel Hirscher another slalom? When fans know who will win a race before it even starts, they switch to something that has an element of surprise and suspense. If a skier wants to win a race, he must not only be fast, he must also  have great technique and a matching ensemble. The second reason came from the smaller countries. They have skiers with good technique who are not fast enough to place in the top 30 in their races. The new scoring system gives little countries like Hungary, the Netherlands, and Fiji a chance to earn points in World Cup races.
BB: How do the traditional ski power countries like Austria and Switzerland feel about this change?
Hujara: The athletes were polled about it and almost all of them hated it. But their opinions don't count with the FIS. Like the fans, the athletes have a big tendency to resist change but they end up embracing it. Look at all the squawking and crying that took place about the new giant slalom skis. Ted Ligety, who complained the most about them, is having the most success in giant slalom this season. But the Swiss men's speed team actually liked the idea of the new scoring system. The Swiss men would earn high E and A scores, which would compensate for their lack of speed this season.
BB: But isn't the Swiss men's speed team competing in women's races next season?
Hujara: Yes, but both men and women will be using the new scoring system.
BB: How will the judges be certified, and which countries will they come from?
Hujara: At first we will use figure skating and gymnastics judges. They understand good form and technique. In the meantime we will train our own judges. Judges will come from from every country that is registered with the FIS.
BB: Aren't you worried about national biases coming out with the judges? If there is an Austrian judge on the panel, the others may complain that there is judging bias when an Austrian skier gets a high E and A score.
Hujara: As I said before, there are six judges on the panel. The high and low scores are thrown out, eliminating the possibility of a judge overscoring a skier from his or her country and underscoring those from other countries. We have also developed special software that will match judges' scores with racers' videos to determine if there is collusion among judges. Safety is a huge priority at the FIS, but so is neutrality in judging.
BB: Good point. Well, Herr Hujara, I want to thank you for taking the time to explain the new ski racing scoring system. I'm sure the fans will love it once they are used to it. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Memorable Moments of Schladming

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Now that the World Championships in Schladming have ended, it's time to reflect on them and come up with a list of our 10 favorite highlights. The others will talk about Ted Ligety's 3 gold medals, Mikaela Shiffrin becoming the 3rd youngest world champion in history, Marcel Hirscher taking slalom gold and Mario Matt winning bronze in front of the home fans, Fritz Dopfer's run in the team event to secure a bronze medal for Germany, and the USA leading the medal count. Instead, we will be telling ski fans about all of the moments that the others didn't think to write about. Instead of our usual interview format, we will be using a list. 

10. The Devil (Almost) Made Me Do It: If young French super talent Alexis Pinturault placed 6th in the giant slalom event instead of 5th, he would have the numbers 6-6-6 as his placings. Pinturault was 6th in the slalom and combined events. Satanists would then claim that Pinturault was one of them, and fundamentalist Christians would do everything in their power to avoid him since he would have the mark of Satan. Fortunately, French trainers reported that Pinturault has never been possessed by the devil or other demons. It was strictly a coincidence that he came close to having a 6-6-6 finish in Schladming. 

9. No Confusion Here: Austrian skier Michaela Kirchgasser, the silver medalist in the slalom, will not confuse fans if she marries her current boyfriend. Her teammate Regina Sterz, formerly Regina Mader, totally baffled the ski world when she changed her name after getting married. Kirchgasser decided to be more considerate of the fans and commentators than Sterz was. Her boyfriend is Sebastian Kirchgasser. Michela's comment: "I saw what everyone went through when Regina got married and I was determined to avoid causing even more problems with the team, fans, and reporters. I searched all over Austria until I found a man with the same last name as me. If we get married, I won't have to change or hyphenate my name." We at the Blickbild hope that things work out well between Michaela and Sebastian.

8. Real Men Must Sometimes Ask For Directions: In the giant slalom event Swiss skier Didier Defago skied out. He stopped and looked around like he was lost. A course worker standing on the side of the piste explained that Didier stopped to ask which way down was the easiest. A spokesman for the Swiss team reported that Didier got his days mixed up. As he was skiing down the men's course, he suddenly realized that he was supposed to have competed in the women's giant slalom race the previous day. See this story about the Swiss men. Austrian skier Benjamin Raich had a similar experience in the slalom, when he stopped in the middle of his run. Unlike Defago, Raich was able to finish his run without having to ask for directions and ended up in 13th place.

7. An 8.7 From the Bulgarian Judge and 7.6 From the Ukrainian: Croatian skier Filip Zubcic crashed into German skier Felix Neureuther during the team event, knocking Neureuther off of his feet. The six judges watching the event gave Zubcic a total of 8.25 points for his fall and crash. The Bulgarian and Ukrainian judges' scores were thrown out because they were the high and low scores. The scores from the other four judges were averaged. The Bulgarian judge was revealed as being overly lenient and was later replaced with a Romanian judge, while the Ukrainian gave the lowest scores to everyone who fell. The Croatian trainer appealed to the judges for artistic impression bonus points since Zubcic took Neureuther down with him. Zubcic was the only skier to take down another during the team event, but the Croatian trainer's appeal was denied.

6. Shooting Blanks: The Swiss men's team will return home from Schladming with a grand total of zero medals. That's zero, none, null, zilch, nix, a goose egg, aught, naught, nada, non, nil. Only Lara Gut was able to redeem Switzerland with her silver medal in the Super-G. Even though the Swiss men were originally supposed to start competing in women's races next season, the International Ski Federation (FIS) granted them a waiver to start competing in them starting next weekend in Meribel. Here is how Lara Gut reacted to that news," I think the men are going to be really embarrassed when a petite woman like me beats them in races. They should be put to work constructing tunnels through the mountains instead. That way their male egos will stay intact."

5. Where Was Vinnie? That's the question that the whole ski world has been asking. Mafia enforcer Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli, who was hired by Red Bull to be US skier Lindsey Vonn's bodyguard in Schladming, was nowhere to be seen when Vonn fell during the Super-G race and injured her knee. See this story. It turns out that Razzovelli does not know how to ski, so he was unable to be by her side when she made her run down the Planai. She was on her own, totally unguarded. Because Razzovelli shirked his duties, Vonn landed awkwardly on a jump and tore knee ligaments. According to sources at Red Bull, Razzovelli is now in a psychiatric hospital in New Jersey. He suffered a mental breakdown from the guilt he felt at not being able to ski and therefore protect Vonn from injury. According to doctors, Razzovelli is in a catatonic state. He keeps repeating, "Kill Mr. R" from the time he wakes up in the morning until he goes to bed at night.

4. The Understudy Comes Through: French skier Gauthier de Tessieres, who won the Super-G silver medal, was not even supposed to be in Schladming. He was sitting on his couch eating chips, drinking beer, and watching soap operas when he got a call from his trainer to go to Schladming and compete in place of his injured teammate Johan Clarey the next day. His story is the stuff of world championship legends. But Schladming was not the only time that De Tessieres shone as an understudy, as the Blickbild's intrepid research team learned. His school drama club performed "The Three Musketeers" and De Tessieres was the understudy for D'Artagnan's role. On opening night the actor playing D'Artagnan got sick with food poisoning and De Tessieres was called at the last minute to act. He did a brilliant job and replaced the original actor for the rest of the production. In addition, De Tessieres won a silver medal for his acting performance as the second-best actor in the play.

3. Witch Doctor Count: The Germans were the first ski team to get a witch doctor. See this story. France acquired a witch doctor just before the world championships and its team won medals. Sweden was thought to have a witch doctor, but it turned out that the Swedes kidnapped the German witch doctor. See this story  then this one. It turns out that Italy also has a witch doctor who helped the Azzurri win three medals. It is widely suspected that the USA also has a witch doctor because American skiers won 5 medals in Schladming, 4 of then gold. However, US team officials insisted that there is no team witch doctor, just very talented skiers. That was surprising. One would think that the US team would strongly believe in voodoo since most Americans seem to deny global warming. Judging from how the Swiss men performed in Schladming, they are in dire need of a witch doctor.

2. Revenge of the Witch Doctor: Continuing on the witch doctor theme, there was a lot of revenge going on between Germany and Sweden after the Swedes abducted the Germans' witch doctor. Sweden was upset that Germany's witch doctor was found just before Germany's last run in the team event. The Swedes had a pathetic performance against Austria in the gold medal round. But Sweden knew that revenge is sweet. The course setter for the second run of the women's slalom was the Swedish trainer. He deliberately set the course in a way that would make the Germans fail. Maria Hoefl-Riesch skied out and failed to finish. Lena Duerr finished in 21st place as the best German. But on Sunday it was the men's turn for revenge. Felix Neureuther won a silver medal, knocking Swedish star Andre Myhrer down to 4th place and off the podium. Neureuther commented, "Next time Sweden will think twice about stealing someone else's witch doctor."

1. Valentine's Day Chocolates: Norwegian skier Aksel Lund Svindal gave his girlfriend, US skier Julia Mancuso, a box of Milka chocolate hearts for Valentine's Day. The ski world thought that was a very romantic gesture from Aksel. But, unknown to Julia, Aksel removed half of the chocolates and replaced them with ojlmsfjaegger, which are a special Norwegian birthday treat. Ojlmsfaegger, as every Norwegian knows, are cubes of pickled reindeer heart covered in a special chocolate and smoked salmon sauce. Aksel and his teammates made the ojlmsfjaegger especially for Julia, even though it wasn't her birthday. They even made the ojlmsfjaegger look like real Milka hearts. The box was rewrapped in its plastic wrapper and given to Julia with a big bow on it. Julia seemed to enjoy the candy hearts. It is unknown at this time whether Julia ate real Milka chocolate hearts or the ojlmsfjaegger.

That concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive. The Blickbild wants to congratulate all of the skiers who participated in the world championships. Every skier, from the gold medalists to the last place finishers, gets our respect.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All the news that our intrepid journalists report.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ted Ligety: The Man Nobody Knows

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
Yesterday in Schladming US star Ted Ligety became the first skier since Toni Sailer in 1958 to win three gold medals at a world championship. This is not normally a story that we would report since the others have already done so and even interviewed Ted. Instead, the Blickbild presents its unique perspective on Ted's remarkable achievement. We sent a team of our intrepid reporters to the USA to get the reaction of his countrymen. Ted is very well-known in Europe and among ski racing fans everywhere. But, as our readers will see from our man-on-the-street interviews, nobody in his country knows who he is even after his triple gold performance in Schladming.
Interview subject #1: Male surfer on a California beach
BB: (showing a photo of Ted)  Do you know who this man is?
Surfer: Yeah. (pointing to someone surfing) It's him.
BB: It can't be. This man is Ted Ligety and he's currently in Austria. He just won three gold medals at the Alpine skiing world championships.
Surfer: You're wrong, dude. That's Jimmy. Everyone knows Jimmy. (calling over a group of other surfers) Isn't this a picture of Jimmy?
The others all agree.
Interview subject #2: Woman in a North Carolina grocery store
BB: Excuse me, do you know who Ted Ligety is?
Woman: Of course I do. He's that hot new NASCAR driver!
Interview subject #3: Man in New Orleans French Quarter
BB: Do you know who Ted Ligety is?
Man: Isn't he the third string quarterback for the Saints? (note to our European readers--The Saints are the New Orleans American football team)
Interview subject #4: Woman in Las Vegas casino
BB: Who is Ted Ligety?
Woman: Never heard of him
BB: What if I told you that he just won three gold medals at the recent Alpine skiing world championships? Does that help you?
Woman: No.
Interview subject #5: Man in New York City.
BB: Have you ever heard of Ted Ligety?
Man: Yes. He sells hot dogs and pretzels in Battery Park. Sorry, my mistake, that's Ted Ligetsky.
Interview subject #6: Woman in Iowa shopping mall
BB: Do you know who Ted Ligety is?
Woman: I saw his name in the paper this morning. He was the fireman who got an award from the mayor for rescuing the Tyler family from their burning house.
Interview subject #7: Male skier at a Utah ski resort
BB: (showing a photo of Ted) Who is this man?
Skier: He looks like a skier.
BB: He is. That's Ted Ligety, who's on the US ski team. He just won three gold medals at the world championships.
Skier: He can't be on the US ski team. The only American skiers are that hot chick who was in Sports Illustrated before the Olympics and Bode Miller.

Interview subject #8: Woman in a Chicago restaurant
BB: What do you know about Ted Ligety?
Woman: He's the bike racer who was doping and was on Oprah talking about it.
BB: You're talking about Lance Armstrong. Ted Ligety is a ski racer.
Woman: Is he also doping?
BB: So far he has never tested positive for illegal performance enhancing drugs.
Woman: Well neither did that bike racer and look what happened to him!

Interview subject #9: Man at a county fair in Texas
BB: Who is Ted Ligety?
Man: Ted is a legend in Texas county fairs. He and his family have raised prize-winning pigs for the past 100 years.

Interview subject #10: Woman in a park in Seattle
BB: Do you know who Ted Ligety is?
Woman: He works at Microsoft and was one of the software engineers who developed Windows Vista. That was the worst operating system ever! Mac rules!

Interview subject #11: Two men in the Mississippi bayou
BB: Do either of you know who Ted Ligety is?
Man #1: He was taken aboard the flying saucer that landed here in 1987.
Man #2: That's right! He was probed by the aliens and told us all about it.
Man #1: I didn't believe in UFOs until I saw Ted taken up in that spaceship with my own eyes.
Man #2: He even drew pictures of what the aliens looked like.

Interview subject #12: Woman on a beach in Florida
BB: Tell me what you know about Ted Ligety.
Woman: Ted was my favorite character in the soap opera, "Light of Tomorrow." He was killed in a car accident. Vanessa, who's Ted's wife, found out that Ted was having an affair with Julie and got her pregnant. But Ted refused to take a paternity test. So Vanessa and Jack, the mechanic that she is having an affair with, conspired to kill Julie and her unborn baby. Vanessa paid Jack to cut the brake line on Julie's car. But it happened that Ted was taking his lunch break at Julie's house that day. Ted's car wouldn't start when it was time to go back to work, so he borrowed Julie's. As he was driving on Pine Street, which is hilly, the brakes failed and Jack hit a light pole and died after being in a coma for three months. Poor Julie! Now she has to fend off Roger, who always had a crush on her and was waiting for Ted to go back to Vanessa so he could have Julie. But Vanessa and Jack are now free to carry on their affair without worrying about Ted finding out about it. I still can't believe that Ted is dead. (starts crying)

The responses of the people whose interviews we published were typical of the hundreds of people who we asked about Ted. Nobody in America, except for perhaps his family, friends, and expatriate Austrians, knows who he really is. We at the Blickbild congratulate Ted on his 3 gold medals in Schladming. Hopefully Ted will keep up his success into the Sochi Olympics next year and finally get the recognition in his country that he deserves.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All the news that the others don't recognize.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Athlete Profile: Aksel Lund Svindal and Julia Mancuso

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
Norwegian skier Aksel Lund Svindal and US skier Julia Mancuso are Alpine skiing's power couple of the 2010s. They have replaced Austrians Benjamin Raich and Marlies Schild as skiing's "in" couple. Raich and Schild are so 2008. We at the Blickbild realize that others have published stories and interviews about Svindal and Mancuso. Normally we would not touch a story about them with a 10-foot pole as the saying goes. But our intrepid reporters and researchers have found out things about Svindal and Mancuso that the others never dared to print. The Blickbild was granted a special Valentine's Day interview with Aksel and Julia. It's only fitting that we get to know them a little better today.
BB: You two are such a great couple. One reason is that you both are very positive, upbeat people. Win or lose, you both have a smile for the fans and for each other. You seem to be very supportive of each other on and off the slopes. Are your smiles a big act for the fans? Are you really grouchy and angry when you're away from the cameras? 
Mancuso: Not at all. I am truly happy because I am doing something that I love. I am happy whether or not there is a camera focusing on me. And Aksel is very supportive. It's one reason why I love him.
Svindal: I am also doing a job that I love. How many others can say that they truly love their work? Julia is also a great support, especially when I have a poor performance. She really knows how to lift my spirits.
BB: There is talk of you two getting married. If you did get married, where would you live?
Svindal: Definitely Norway.
Mancuso: I'm from Squaw Valley, California. I would either want to live there or Hawaii. I spend a lot of the off-season on Maui and love it there.
Svindal: We discussed this before and you agreed that we would live in Norway.
BB: Oh dear!  I don't want to start an argument, so let's move on to the next question. Benni and Marlies have 24 Olympic and World Championship medals between them. You two have 19. Do you think you can surpass Marlies and Benni's medal count?
Svindal: It's possible. If Julia works a little harder at getting medals, we will defnitely do it.
Mancuso: What do you mean, if I work a little harder?
Svindal: Well I do have more medals than you. I have 11 and you only have 8. You need to step it up and do your part if we're going to pass up Benni and Marlies. I got 3 medals in Vancouver and you only got 2. In Schladming I have two medals so far and you only have one. You need to start contributing more.
Mancuso: How do you think I feel when you constantly remind me that you have more medals than me? I'd think you'd be proud of me. Any world championship or Olympic medal is a big prize. I'm happy for you when you win races and earn medals.
Svindal: You don't have that real competitive fire. Look at someone like Lindsey Vonn. She is a real competitor. Lindsey lives and breathes racing. Medals and records are very important to her. Sometimes I get the impression that you're more into having a good time than wanting to win more races and medals. Look at me. I have 2 World Cup overall globes and 5 discipline titles. You don't have any globes.
Mancuso: I thought that one of the reasons why you love me is because I'm  having a great time racing and keep a positive attitude whether I win or fail to finish a race. I may not be the most competitive racer, but I seem to be the one on the World Cup circuit who enjoys it the most. I'd rather enjoy what I'm doing than be caught up in medal counts or winning crystal globes. If I won  any crystal globes, where would we put them? Yours are taking up all the space.
BB: Wow, I didn't mean to cause any friction. This is supposed to be a friendly interview. Let's talk about what you do in the off-season. Julia, tell our readers about teaching Aksel how to surf and windsurf.
Mancuso: It's a lot of fun when we surf and windsurf together. Aksel picked it up very quickly.
Svindal: Julia really is a good teacher.
Mancuso: Thank you.
BB: Aksel, do you think you'll be a professional surfer or windsurfer as your next career?
Svindal: No, I think I'll stick with skiing. Being out on the water is a lot of fun, but it's hard work pretending not to be any good at either surfing or windsurfing.
BB: Do you mean that you're only pretending to be a poor surfer and windsurfer?
Svindal: Yes. Julia is correct that I picked up those sports very quickly. I'm actually better than she is. But I pretend to be a spaz when I'm with her so that she feels good.
Mancuso: What!?! All this time we were out on the water you were pretending to have problems! This is the first time I've heard this.
BB: Oh boy. Let's try another topic. Aksel, has your family met Julia?
Svindal: Yes they have and they all love her.
Mancuso: I feel like Aksel's family has truly accepted me and I feel like one of the family. At first they seemed a little distant, but I attributed that to them being Scandinavian. But after Aksel's brother's last birthday party, I feel like I'm one of the family.
BB: What happened at that birthday party?
Mancuso: We all started doing shots of some home-brewed  stuff that smelled like paint thinner and tasted horrible.
Svindal: That was special Norwegian cognac made from the finest pickled herring.
Mancuso: So we're drinking this awful stuff. After two shots, everyone is totally drunk and starts burping loudly. I figure that I'm supposed to burp loudly too, so I let out the loudest belch of all. Everyone starts patting me on the back and saying, "Julia, you rock!"
Svindal: That was so embarrassing. Julia evidently didn't know that only the men are supposed to burp loudly at Norwegian parties. But my relatives wanted to make Julia feel at home, so they applauded her burping. But then it got worse. Julia refused to eat the ojlmsfjaegger.
BB: Excuse me, but what are ojlmsfjaegger?
Svindal: They are special Norwegian birthday treats. Ojlmsfjaegger are cubes of pickled reindeer heart covered in a special chocolate and smoked salmon sauce. All Norwegians look forward to birthday parties just so they can eat ojlmsfjaegger.
Mancuso: I was just about to eat one because Aksel's cousin said that it was a special birthday treat. But then he told me what it was made of. I couldn't bring myself to eat it, even after watching everyone else eat them like they were candy. Just the thought of what they are made out of makes me want to vomit.
Svindal: Well, they are like candy to Norwegians.
Mancuso: And you wonder why I want to live in the States. At least we have proper candy made out of chocolate and sugar and not from reindeer organs and fish sauce!
Svindal: At least Norway's stores aren't full of processed artificial foods. We eat real food in Norway. There are a lot less obese Norwegians than there are obese Americans!
Mancuso: There are a lot more Americans than Norwegians, so of course there will be more fat Americans.
BB: Whoa! I think it's time to wrap up this interview before things get out of hand. Aksel and Julia, congratulations on your medals in Schladming. I also hope that the rest of the season is successful for both of you.
Aksel: Thank you. I'm sure your readers will think this is a very enlightening interview.
Mancuso: Thank you. Aksel is right about this interview. We'll have a lot to talk about later.
BB: And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. The Blickbild is in Schladming reporting all the action that the others avoid.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All the news that the others won't print, even if they were paid more than our staff.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Witch Doctor Returned To Germany

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The Congolese witch doctor that the German Ski Federation (DSV) hired to help skiers Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Lena Duerr has been found. Dr. Mabongo was unharmed and returned to Germany immediately before the team event final in Schladming. Thanks to police work that was even more intrepid than the Blickbild's reporters, the Germans didn't have to pay any ransom. Dr. Mabongo was taken by a most unlikely suspect. Here to talk about how Dr. Mabongo was found are Schladming police chief Hermann Mayer and German technical team trainer Christian Schwaiger. 

BB: Let's start with the question that everyone in the ski world is asking....Who kidnapped Dr. Mabongo?
Mayer: Sweden.
BB: Sweden? Was Sweden even on your list of suspects? 
Mayer: No. Sweden is well-known for its technical team and not its speed team. In the Super-G, downhill, and combined events, Sweden did not win a medal. But that was a normal result, so no alarms were raised. The Swedes really flew under the radar on this one. 
BB: Sweden is well-known for its great slalom skiers. Andre Myhrer is one of the medal favorites as is Frida Hansdotter. They are both having good seasons, so why did Sweden feel the need to steal Germany's witch doctor?
Mayer: The team event was coming up and Sweden really wanted to win the gold medal. Also, Frida wanted to finally win a race instead of always finishing second. 
BB: But the ransom note was written in German. 
Mayer: That was what English speakers would call a real red herring. The ransom note was written by someone who appeared to be a native German speaker. That was why we originally suspected Austria or Switzerland. But we forgot that people from Scandinavia must learn several languages in school, German being one of the most popular.
BB: How did you figure out that the Swedes abducted Dr. Mabongo?
Mayer: I was part of the security squad at the team event. My colleagues and I knew that Austria, Germany, and France were the three medal favorites in this event. Sweden was a long shot to make it to the semi-finals, let alone the final. So we knew that something was up when Sweden beat Finland and the USA to make it into the final four. 
BB: Sweden's performance wasn't all that surprising. They had their top men and women competing. What happened to convince you that Sweden kidnapped the witch doctor?
Mayer: Sweden beat a great Canadian team to get into the final round. This was totally unexpected.  As Andre Myhrer and Mathias Hargin were getting ready to head up for the final against Austria, they happened to pass by my security checkpoint. My favorite bloodhound Fido was my partner for the evening. Fido started barking and growling at Andre and Mathias and would not stop. I thought that was odd because they are both such nice guys. Everyone likes Andre and Matthias. 
BB: Tell our readers what happened next.
Mayer:  I looked at Mathias and thought that something wasn't quite right with him. He is not a skinny guy, but he looked a little heavier than usual. Fido sniffed Mathias, then suddenly bit him in the stomach. He tore a good-sized hole in Mathias' speed suit. As I was getting ready to beat Fido for being rude, I spotted something black under Mathias' speed suit through the hole. Through my powers of deduction, I knew that it wasn't a back protector because Fido bit Mathias in the stomach. The next thing I knew, Dr. Mabongo popped out through the hole! 
BB: That must have been a real surprise for both you and Dr. Mabongo.
Mayer: It was. Who would have thought that he would be hidden under Mathias' speed suit! But Dr. Mabongo is a Pygmy and can be hidden just about anywhere. He was returned to Germany just before Fritz Dopfer's run in the bronze medal match against Canada. Fritz was the last skier for Germany and he had to win by at least 0.10 seconds for Germany to win the bronze medal. Canada looked like it was going to win. But when Fritz saw Dr. Mabongo with his teammates from the start house, he felt good juju spread all through his body and single-handedly gave his team the bronze medal.
BB: What is going to happen to Sweden now? How will the team be punished?
Mayer: I would think that their poor performances against the Austrians in the finals would be punishment enough. Replaying the final round during every team meeting would be a constant reminder of Sweden's wrongdoing, especially Andre Myhrer's run. But because kidnapping for ransom is a serious crime, the Swedish Ski Association will be charged and will have to go to court to defend itself. Normally the trial would be held in Austria, because that's where the crime took place. But because Austria borders Germany, we are considering a change of venue because it would be too difficult to find an unbiased jury. Kyrgyzstan and North Korea have offered to host the trial.
BB: Herr Schwaiger, I bet that you are thrilled to get Dr. Mabongo back. 
Schwaiger: I am very thrilled. Because of Dr. Mabongo's reappearance, Germany was able to win the bronze medal when it looked like all was lost. Maria, Lena, and Felix all had a rough competition up until then. I broke the news of Dr. Mabongo's disappearance to the team after the women's downhill race and I could tell that his absence affected them. But I couldn't hide it from them anymore. It was all over the Austrian news, CNN, Al-Jazeera, and every Hollywood celebrity news channel.  
BB: How is Felix doing after the Croatian skier crashed into him?
Schwaiger: He will be fine. At first I thought that the Croatian skier in the first round crashed into Felix  because of his inexperience. But when the police debriefed Dr. Mabongo we found out that Sweden forced him to make voodoo dolls of Felix and the Croatian skier and crash them into each other. 
BB: How do you plan to prevent another team from kidnapping Dr. Mabongo?
Schwaiger: There are two viable options. The DSV is negotiating with Norway to send us some attack-trained reindeer. Hopefully Norwegians like Milka chocolate and purple cows, because there is no way we are giving Fritz to Norway unless the DSV got Aksel Lund Svindal in return. I have also talked with a representative of Red Bull and they might be willing to pay for 24-hour bodyguards for Dr. Mabongo. They could use the money that they planned to spend for Lindsey Vonn's bodyguards. We even heard that Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli is available. 
BB: Hiring bodyguards for Dr. Mabongo sounds like a sensible idea. He really is a valuable asset to anyone who uses his services. 
Schwaiger: Very true. While Sweden had Dr. Mabongo, it was practically unbeatable. People were looking forward to a close and exciting final against Austria. But as soon as Dr. Mabongo came back to Germany, Sweden made a lot of mistakes in the final and handed the gold medal to Austria. 
BB: Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
Schwaiger: Yes. The DSV will be providing Fido with a lifetime supply of assorted doggie treats for his role in rescuing Dr. Mabongo. Thanks to Fido we got our witch doctor back. I also want to thank Herr Mayer and his team for never giving up their search for Dr. Mabongo despite the false leads. My family also thanks him for the Hermann Maier autograph cards. And one more thing. To Sweden, I say get your own damn witch doctor! Or at least steal the French team's witch doctor instead of ours. 
BB: In the interest of fairness, we wanted to get comments from Swedish Ski Association Secretary General Niklas Carlsson, but he was unavailable. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. We will bring you all the news from Schladming that the others don't dare to print. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We never give up when it comes to providing our readers with the stories that the others don't dare to print. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

DSV Witch Doctor Abducted!

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Dr. Mabongo, the Congolese witch doctor that the German Ski Federation (DSV) hired to work with skiers Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Lena Duerr, was abducted from the Germans' hotel sometime last Friday night. The local police,  Interpol, and packs of St. Bernards and bloodhounds are already on the case. Here to talk with the Blickbild are Schladming police chief Hermann Mayer and German women's technical team trainer Christian Schwaiger. This interview was conducted before US skier Ted Ligety won a gold medal and Austrian skier Romed Baumann won a bronze medal in the super-combined event. 

BB: Herr Mayer, do people think that you are the Austrian ski legend Hermann Maier?
Mayer: All the time, even though we don't look alike at all. Hermann Maier the skier was blond and, as you can see, I have dark brown hair. He also spells his last name M-A-I-E-R, while mine is spelled M-A-Y-E-R. But the Herminator keeps me supplied with his autograph cards, which I hand out to unsuspecting tourists. You wouldn't believe how many of the Herminator's cards I've given out during the world championships.
BB: Does the suspected abduction of Dr. Mabongo mean that nobody in Schladming is safe? Is Schladming really Austria's "Crime Central?"
Mayer: Schladming is a very safe city. The last big crime we had here was back in 1986, when 5-year-old Elke Dorfkeller's mittens were accidentally taken by a kindergarten classmate. They were returned the next day. Both our local residents and the visitors here for the World Championships have nothing to worry about. This abduction is a one-in-a-million crime. People here have a higher chance of being attacked by a Yeti in the mountains than by being abducted in Schladming.
BB: Herr Schwaiger, how do you know that Dr. Mabongo was abducted and not simply out for a walk?
Schwaiger: When the team came down for breakfast Saturday morning, Dr. Mabongo was not at the table. He is normally the first one down to breakfast. I went up to his room to see if he was taking a shower or doing one of his voodoo rituals. When I got to his room, there was a note on his door. It was a ransom note. 
BB: What did the note say?
Schwaiger: The kidnapper demanded 1 million euros in cash, 1000 Milka chocolate bars in various flavors, 50 purple Milka cows, and for Maria and Lena to have DNFs in the upcoming world championship giant slalom and slalom races.
BB: Why did you wait until Sunday afternoon to report the abduction?
Schwaiger: I didn't want to upset Maria. She had a race on Sunday and I wanted her to focus on that. My strategy paid off because she got a bronze medal. If she got distracted by Dr. Mabongo being gone, she may have fallen apart and had a DNF. 
BB: Is the DSV willing to pay off the kidnappers and follow all of their demands?
Schwaiger: I'm hoping that we get Dr. Mabongo back before we are able to gather up the money, candy bars, and cows. He has done such a great job with Maria and Lena. Who would have thought that Lena would win the Moscow City Event before Dr. Mabongo was hired? And Maria has really gotten her focus back and already has two medals in the world championships. Based on her previous performances this season, she was not a medal favorite at all. It would be a real setback if we have to force Maria and Lena to DNF in their next races. In fact, the DSV has hired Dr. Mabongo to work with all of its male and female skiers. 
BB: Herr Mayer, do you have any suspects yet?
Mayer: The prime suspects are the Austrian ski team and the Swiss men's speed team. The ransom note was written in German, which rules out Italy or the USA. 
BB: I wouldn't rule out Italy or the USA. A lot of Italians come from the Suedtirol and speak German. The USA also has Austrian coaches who were thrown out of the Austrian Ski Federation for being embezzlers. It doesn't seem to be a big step from embezzlement to kidnapping. 
Mayer: That's true, but the Italians and Americans already have two medals in these championships at the halfway point. The Austrians only have one bronze medal and the Swiss men have no medals at all. They are the most likely candidates for requiring the services of a witch doctor.
BB: What about the French? They have the most medals so far at these championships and many French people can also speak German.
Mayer: We have eliminated the French because they started winning medals before Dr. Mabongo was taken. It appears that the French have their own witch doctor. The French coaching staff gave me receipts for plane tickets to Brazzaville and a copy of their witch doctor's visa. Everything checked out.
BB: Herr Schwaiger, if the French have their own team witch doctor, why would someone take yours and not the French team's?
Schwaiger: The French didn't publicize that they had a witch doctor. Whoever took Dr. Mabongo didn't realize that the French had one too.
BB: Do you think that Germany is setting a new trend by hiring a team witch doctor?
Schwaiger: That's possible. If teams can hire sports psychologists and massage therapists, they can certainly hire witch doctors. I'm sure they saw how Dr. Mabongo helped Lena and Maria and they wanted one too. At least the French went out and got their own instead of stealing ours.
BB: That would be very interesting if every ski team had its own witch doctor. But, on the other hand, how will the tribes of the Congo manage with a shortage of witch doctors?
Schwaiger: What's more important for a ski team, having athletes who are physically and mentally able to win races, or some natives in the jungle?
BB: You have a point. Anyway, back to the investigation. Herr Mayer, have you found any solid evidence that the Austrians or Swiss are involved?
Mayer: The Swiss are prime suspects. Dr. Mabongo was abducted on Friday night. The men's downhill race was Saturday. The Swiss speed team has been very poor in speed events, but on Saturday they suddenly had 3 men in the top 10. Austria only had 2 men in the top 10 in that race. All season Austria was better than Switzerland in downhill races and on Saturday the Swiss had better results. That set off alarm bells.
BB: And what makes you suspect the Austrians?
Mayer: The Sachertorte and ice cream deal was supposed to have been carried out. But it was nullified because the Austrians sent the Germans the wrong flavor of ice cream. The German coaching staff hates coffee flavored ice cream, yet the Austrians sent them cappucino ice cream. The Austrians have a strong motive for kidnapping Dr. Mabongo because they want revenge on Germany for the Fritz Dopfer deal going wrong.
BB: For those unfamiliar with the cake and ice cream deal, German skier Fritz Dopfer was traded to Austria for Sachertorte and a lifetime supply of ice cream. Because the deal was cancelled due to the wrong ice cream given to Germany, Fritz is staying with Germany. Herr Schwaiger, who do you suspect abducted Dr. Mabongo?
Schwaiger: I have to agree with Herr Mayer. I think it was either the Swiss or Austrian men. But I hope that whoever has him returns him soon.
BB: Which way are you leaning, toward the Swiss or Austrians?
Mayer: I hate to suspect my countrymen of criminal activity. But the Austrian coaches who went to the USA set a precedent with their embezzlement. Also, the ransom note demanded euros instead of Swiss francs. On the other hand, the Swiss have tried everything to get their men to perform well during the World Cup season and nothing happened. Switzerland may have realized that a witch doctor could help their men the way Dr. Mabongo helped Lena and Maria. They had a sudden improvement the day after Dr. Mabongo was taken, which is extremely suspicious.
BB: Have you looked into the possibility that Dr. Mabongo was taken by a Yeti? There are a lot of Yetis in the Austrian mountains. 
Mayer: We ruled that out because Yetis can't write in German.
BB: Can either of you describe Dr. Mabongo in case any of our readers see him?
Schwaiger: He is black, 125 cm tall, normal build, short black hair, dark brown eyes, and has a bone in his nose. He also wears a shrunken head charm around his neck.  Dr. Mabongo was last seen wearing a loincloth and was barefoot.
BB: But it's very cold and snowy here. Wouldn't Dr. Mabongo freeze to death dressed that way?
Schwaiger: Evidently not. Those witch doctors from the Congo seem to be very tough.
BB: What should someone do if he sees Dr. Mabongo?
Mayer: Someone who sees Dr. Mabongo should not try to rescue him, but should call the police right away. There will be someone on duty 24 hours to take calls. We will take all tips seriously except those involving Yetis or space aliens.
BB: But what if Dr. Mabongo really was abducted by space aliens?
Mayer: What are the odds that space aliens can write in perfect German? This isn't Star Trek or any other show where the aliens speak perfect English, German, French, or any other Earth language.
BB: Good point. Herr Schwaiger, is there anything you want to say to Dr. Mabongo's abductors? Everyone in the ski world reads the Blickbild, so they should get your message.
Schwaiger: Please return Dr. Mabongo to us unharmed and get your own witch doctor instead of stealing ours!
BB:  We at the Blickbild hope that Dr. Mabongo is found soon and returned to the Germans safe and sound.  And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Schladming Man In The Street Interviews

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Thursday was a quiet day at the World Championships. There were no races; both the men and women had downhill training. The Blickbild sent one of its intrepid reporters out on the streets of Schladming to talk to people about the competition. Our reporter came back with some interesting observations from people who are attending the championships. Here is a sampling of what people had to say about the 2013 World Championships.

First interview subject: A teenage boy
BB: Do you think the Austrians made the right decision to put Benjamin Raich on the World Championship team?
Boy: He's still alive?
BB: Yes, Benni is alive and well. In fact, he just had a 5th place finish in the Kitzbuehel slalom.
Boy: Really? I thought he was, like, 95 years old.

Second interview subject: A woman about 70 years old with a cane
BB: Do you think the Austrians made the right decision to put Benjamin Raich on the World Championship team?
Woman: Benni and I went to school together. We were in the same ski club and I even beat him in a race when we were in second grade.
BB: Don't you mean you were in the same class with Benni's father?
Woman: Are you calling me senile? (the woman suddenly hits our reporter on the head with her cane). That should teach you to disrespect your elders!

Third interview subject: A woman in her early 20s
BB: With Lindsey Vonn out of the competition due to injury, who do you think will win Sunday's women's downhill race?
Woman: The Austrian girl.
BB: Which one? There will be 5 Austrian women in the race.
Woman: I don't know. They all look alike because they're wearing the same uniform. If they wore clothes with their names on them I could tell them apart.

Fourth interview subject: A woman in her 30s
BB: With Lindsey Vonn out of the competition due to injury, who do you think will win Sunday's women's downhill race?
Woman: Why do you want to know?
BB: I'm with the Boston Blickbild. I'm asking people about the championships and will report what they have to say.
Woman: Sorry, you don't have the need to know.

Fifth interview subject: A young boy
BB: Who is your favorite skier?
Boy: (wide-eyed) I know who you are! You're that man Mr. R on the "wanted" posters. My dad says you put a curse on Lindsey Vonn.
BB: No I'm not. I'm a reporter with the world-famous Boston Blickbild.
Boy: You touched Lindsey Vonn's skis when you asked for her autograph. Then you tried to take her picture. You even have a voodoo doll of her and pins.
BB: No, you're wrong. I'm a reporter with the Blickbild. (shows the kid a Blickbild ID card) See?
Boy:  Lindsey Vonn needed a bodyguard because of you.
BB: (grabbing the kid's shirt) You tell your dad to try writing the stories that the others don't dare to print and see what happens! (lets go of the boy's shirt)
The boy runs off crying for his mother.

Sixth interview subject: A man in his 20s.
BB: Do you think the Swiss men's speed team has a chance of winning any medals?
Man: (after laughing for a minute) I think the guy from Puerto Rico has a better chance of winning a medal than the Swiss men.
BB: How do you think the Swiss can improve their team?
Man: They should let space aliens take over their bodies, preferably ones that can ski.

Seventh interview subject: A teenage girl
BB: Who is your favorite skier?
Girl: Aksel Lund Svindal. He's so cute! When I turn 18, I'm going to marry him.
BB: Aksel already has a girlfriend, US skier Julia Mancuso.
Girl: I turn 18 in 4 years. Do you think they will break up before then?
BB: I don't think so. They will probably end up getting married.
Girl: Noooooo!!!!!!!!!!!! (starts crying inconsolably)

Eighth interview subject: A man in his 50s
BB: What is your theory about what happened to Austrian skier Regina Mader?
Man:  Everyone in Austria knows that Regina Sterz killed Regina Mader in order to get a place on the national ski team. Regina Sterz was on the edge of making the team, but kept getting beaten out by Regina Mader. There was only room for one skier named Regina on the Austrian team.The only way for Regina Sterz to get on the team was to kill Regina Mader.

Ninth interview subject: A man in his late 30s/early 40s
BB: How many knee operations has Ivica Kostelic had in his career?
Man: Sorry, I can't count that high.

Tenth interview subject: A young girl with her mother
BB: Who is your favorite skier?
Girl: You're a stranger. My mother told me never to talk to strangers.
Mother: Get away from my daughter, you pervert!

Eleventh interview subject: a man in his late 20s/early 30s
BB: If Christof Innerhofer wins a medal, who will give it to him at the award ceremony?
Man: Ante Kostelic.

Twelfth interview subject: a girl age 3 or 4 holding a plush Hopsi
BB: What is your name?
Girl: Katarina.
BB: Katarina, do you like to ski?
Girl: Yes. I am a good skier.
BB: Who is your favorite skier?
Girl: Hopsi!

Thirteenth interview subject: A man in his 40s.
BB: There have been injuries to several skiers after only two days of competition. How do you think they could have been prevented?
Man: By having the races on an easier course. Most injuries happen when someone is skiing on a course that is too difficult for their ability level. The race courses in Schladming are obviously too hard and the races should be moved to an easier one. If the courses can't be changed, then the skiers should wear a big air bag over their speed suits.

Fourteenth interview subject: A woman in her 20s
BB: Is German skier Fritz Dopfer really German or Austrian?
Woman: Does it really matter? He should just follow his bliss and be whatever he wants to be.

Fifteenth (and final) interview subject: two men who look to be in their 30s.
BB: Is German skier Fritz Dopfer really German or Austrian?
Man #1: German. He is a real asset to the German team.
Man #2: Definitely Austrian. He received all of his ski training in Austria.
Man #1: Yes, but the Austrians kicked him off the team. He moved back to Germany, therefore he's German.
Man #2: He was born in Austria, therefore he's Austrian.
Man #1: German! (he punches his companion in the face)
Man #2: Austrian! (he punches his companion in the stomach)
Man #1: German! (he wrestles his companion to the ground)
Man #2: Austrian! (while on the ground, he kicks his companion in the private parts. Both men writhe on the ground in pain and continue to argue)

BB: And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive. We are reporting all of the action on and off the slopes at the Alpine Skiing World Championships in Schladming.  

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Swiss Announce Last Minute Changes to Men's Team in Schladming

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

First of all, the Boston Blickbild wishes Lindsey Vonn a full recovery from the severe knee injury that she incurred in yesterday's Super-G race.
Now on to today's article...As our readers know, and anyone else paying attention to World Cup skiing, the Swiss men have had a dismal season. After 26 races the men only have one podium finish, Carlo Janka's 3rd place finish in the Wengen super-combined. The Swiss trainers feel that none of the current skiers on the speed team have a chance of winning a medal at the World Championships in Schladming. There was a crisis brewing on the team. Should the men's team stay at home or go to Schladming and come home in disgrace without a single medal? Fortunately the problem was solved when four of Switzerland's greatest ski racers volunteered to come out of retirement just for the World Championships. Roland Platzer, one of the Swiss national team trainers, took some time to give the Blickbild this exclusive interview.

BB: Who are the four skiers who came out of retirement?
Platzer: Pirmin Zurbriggen, Michael von Gruenigen, Didier Cuche, and Peter Mueller.
BB: In which events will they be racing?
Platzer: Zurbriggen will race in the 4 remaining events. After all, he is one of the few to win in all 5 disciplines in the World Cup, so he has a good shot at a medal in any event. Von Gruenigen will do the slalom and giant slalom. Mueller and Cuche will both compete in the downhill, with Cuche also doing the giant slalom.
BB: This is the first time in world championship history that a team was allowed to make wholesale last-minute substitutions. Normally the teams have to be declared before the championships begin. How did you get an exemption from this requirement and not be accused of bringing in ringers to help the team?
Platzer: Gunther Hujara knows how bad our team is. He let us see how our men performed in the opening Super-G before letting us add the retirees. The other Swiss trainers and I, along with Gunther and the rest of the FIS executive committee, decided that if none of the men had a top-10 finish we would add the retirees to the team. Silvan Zurbriggen had the best finish of our men in the Super-G in 11th place, so the retired racers were added to the team. We believed that Lara Gut's silver medal in the women's Super-G would inspire our men, but we were wrong. It was time for drastic measures.
BB: With the exception of Cuche, aren't the others rather old to be racing in the World Championships? Von Gruenigen is 43, Zurbriggen just turned 50, and Mueller is 55.
Platzer: Age is just a number. Anyway Hubertus von Hohenlohe was 52 at the 2011 World Championships and Jean-Pierre Roy was 47.
BB: True, but neither Roy nor Von Hohenlohe had a realistic shot at a medal.
Platzer: Neither do the current skiers on the Swiss team! But  Cuche, Von Gruenigen, Zurbriggen, and Mueller have 20 World Championship medals between them: 8 gold, 8 silver, and 4 bronze. They may be old, but they still know how to win. In fact, between them they won 11 medals at the Swiss Geriatric Olympics last month. Pirmin Zurbriggen won 5 medals: 2 gold, 2 silver, and a bronze. Didier Cuche won 2 gold medals and a bronze; Michael von Gruenigen won a gold and silver medal; Peter Mueller won a silver medal. So they can still hold their own with the competition.
BB: Yes, but men are at their physical peak in their late 20s and early 30s. After that their performance naturally deteriorates. I have a lot of respect for the four who are joining the team, but do they have a realistic chance to win a medal in a world championship versus in the Geriatric Olympics?
Platzer: They have a better chance than our current skiers, who are 20 to 30 years younger. I admire these four men for wanting to do their part to restore Switzerland to its former glory. If we carry on with our current speed team, our men will bring home a grand total of zero medals from Schladming.
BB: You do realize that this is a world skiing championship and not bowling or golf where you can get a handicap to compensate for lesser ability or age?
Platzer: Of course! Zurbriggen, Mueller, Von Gruenigen, and Cuche were the best skiers of their times. They don't need a handicap. They will show their younger teammates how to win by example.
BB: Since those four men haven't competed on the World Cup this season, they will end up starting at the back of the pack. How can they have a realistic shot at a medal with start numbers in the 80s?
Platzer: Carlo Janka finished 2nd in a race with start number 65. Of course that was a few years ago. Now we realize that Carlo was a one-hit wonder. Anyway, if Carlo could do it, the others can too. Nothing is impossible.
BB: Wouldn't it be best just to call this season a wash and develop younger talent for the 2015 and 2017 championships and 2018 Olympics?
Platzer: You are not Swiss, so you don't understand. We don't just make chocolate and cuckoo clocks or have banks with secret accounts in Switzerland. Skiing is in our blood. We are not just the land of Heidi; we are the country that produces as many ski champions as Austria. When our skiers perform poorly, we are shamed in the eyes of the world. The four men who came out of retirement to help our team understand this and want to aid their country.
BB: The Swiss men will start competing in women's races starting next season. Are you developing some new talent who will be able to compete with the men?
Platzer: Yes. We have talented young skiers in the technical events. They will carry on competing in men's races. When they are ready, they will become all-around skiers and race with men. But our current speed team will start racing with women next season.
BB: I realize that the speed team is having a hard time competing against their fellow men. But wouldn't it be more embarrassing if the Swiss men can't beat women?
Platzer: The Swiss team is unfortunately in a lose-lose situation. If we consistently beat the women, and win all of their crystal globes, we will be viewed as macho gorillas who are beating up on poor, defenseless women.We may even have to go back to the men's circuit. But if we can't even beat the women, then we will officially be the wimps of the world. Everyone will taunt our men about not being able to beat girls. Our men will be pelted with eggs and rotten tomatoes everywhere they go.
BB: Would the speed team compete in the men's or women's races at the 2014 Olympics and 2015 World Championships?
Platzer: They will compete against women. Only those who can consistently beat women in every race by huge margins in World Cup races will be allowed back onto the men's team. But if they perform poorly against men, then it's back to the women's tour for them.
BB: Let's say that Zurbriggen, Cuche, Von Gruenigen and Mueller do well in Schladming. Would they compete on the women's circuit with the rest of the speed team?
Platzer: No, they will compete with the men. Even though they are old, we would never embarrass them by making them ski against women. They are great champions who deserve respect.
BB: Didier Defago is an Olympic gold medalist, as is Carlo Janka. Carlo is also a world champion and overall World Cup winner. Aren't they also considered great champions?
Platzer: Your so-called intrepid reporters and researchers have obviously been sleeping through this season. With Didier Cuche retiring and Beat Feuz being injured, we realized just how bad our men's speed team really is. Carlo and Didier have had abysmal performances, as have all of the others on the speed team.They need help. If champion racers coming out of retirement can do their part to rescue our team, then more power to them!
BB: When Beat Feuz comes back next season, will he compete with the men or women?
Platzer: Men. Beat was our best skier last season and we have high hopes for him when he returns. Since he was the second-best man in the world last season, he along with the four retirees in Schladming will be the only Swiss men on the speed team who will be allowed to compete on the men's tour.
BB: Do Cuche, Zurbriggen, Mueller, and Von Gruenigen plan to compete beyond Schladming? Or are they just on the team for the championships?
Platzer: For now they are on the team just to compete in Schladming. But if they perform better than our current skiers,which is a good possibility, they are welcome to stay on the Swiss team for the Sochi Olympics and beyond. We could use men who know how to win, no matter how old they are. Who knows, one of them could set a record for oldest world championship medalist. You never know what can happen.
BB: That is true. Well Herr Platzer, I want to thank you for your time. You have your hands full with your team. I want to wish your team luck for the rest of the races. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

Correction to this story: After this interview was completed, we found out that Silvan Zurbriggen was disqualified. The highest-finishing Swiss man in the Super-G was Patrick Kueng in 18th place. It looks like the Swiss team's decision to bring back their retired stars was the correct one. 

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