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.

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