Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ivica Kostelic Becomes Bionic Man

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

We all know that cats have nine lives. It turns out that cats are no match for Croatian superstar Ivica Kostelic. Ivica has at least eleven lives. Last week he had his eleventh knee operation. While the others have reported about Ivica's latest surgery and his plan to be on skis in two months, the Blickbild's intrepid research team found out that Ivica had more than just knee surgery. This latest operation has transformed him into the World Cup's version of the Bionic Man. One of our intrepid reporters had the chance to interview Ivica. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Ivica, this is your eleventh knee operation. Will this be your last one?
Kostelic: I thought that all of my previous operations would be the last. I hope that it will be my last one, but you never know.
BB: Are you addicted to knee surgery? It seems like you have an operation after every season.
Kostelic: Contrary to popular belief, I am not a surgery addict. 
BB: Do you feel that your surgeons are the very best?
Kostelic: Yes. 
BB: If they are so good, why do they need to keep operating on your knees? You'd think if they were so great, they would have fixed everything during the first operation or two. 
Kostelic: New techniques keep being developed and my surgeons use them on me. I feel like I'm at the forefront of receiving the best new technology.
BB: Don't you really have all of these surgeries in the same hospital because you are having an affair with one of the nurses?
Kostelic: Where did you hear that? The nurses are great, but no, I'm not having an affair with any of them. 
BB: It has been reported that you will be back training in two months. 
Kostelic: That's correct. I hope to be back on skis by July and competing in Soelden in October. 
BB: What are your goals for this coming season?
Kostelic: I would like to win the overall World Cup, or at least the slalom globe. I would also like to win a medal, preferably a gold one, in Sochi. 
BB: Don't you want to break records for the number of points in a season?
Kostelic: I want to go out and do my best in every race. If I set a points record, that would be great. If not, that is also okay. I have been around long enough to realize that records aren't everything in life.
BB: Will you be posting minute-by-minute updates about your post-surgical recovery and rehab like Lindsey Vonn does?
Kostelic: Lindsey just had her first knee operation and it's still a novel experience for her. After the fifth surgery the novelty wears off and the fans don't really want so many updates. One mention of my surgery is enough.
BB: But you are a national hero in Croatia, especially after winning the World Cup overall globe in 2011. Don't your countrymen want to know how your are doing?
Kostelic: I'm sure they do. But I get plenty of attention in Croatia and am well-known by just about everyone there. I don't need to go to red carpet events, date famous athletes, or tweet about what I am doing every minute to promote myself or my sport. 
BB: Let's say that your rehab takes longer than you planned. How long will it take you to prepare for the Olympics? Lindsey Vonn said that she would only need one week and Bode Miller said he only needs one day. 
Kostelic: They are delusional! Competing every week in World Cup races should prepare me for the Olympics. I will start my Olympic preparations as soon as I am back on skis. Remember, the same people that I compete against in the World Cup will also by my competition at the Olympics.
BB: Our intrepid research staff found out that you had more than just knee surgery. Please tell our readers what other procedures you had done. 
Kostelic: I had my tibias (shin bones) removed and replaced with special titanium rods and high-tech electronics. My right eye was removed and replaced with a special bionic eye that gives me enhanced vision. Special electrodes were implanted in my hands to give them extra strength.
BB: Why would you have all of those extra procedures done?
Kostelic: When I was a child, The Six Million Dollar Man was my favorite TV program. Janica and I watched it religiously. My father said that he wanted us to ski and race the same way that Steve Austin moved with his bionic legs and arm. My fans already think that I am bionic because I still win races at my age, so I thought that I should become a real bionic man.
BB: I see. But why remove your leg bones?
Kostelic: Have you ever hit a slalom pole with your leg? There's a reason ski racers wear shin guards for slalom. If I don't have to wear shin guards, it would make me a little bit lighter and could make it easier to go around the slalom poles. If I hit a pole, it won't hurt.
BB: Sounds logical. But why did you have electrodes implanted in your hands and replace one of your eyes with a bionic one?
Kostelic: The hand electrodes will enable me to better grip my poles because they will tighten my hand muscles. During a race losing a pole can be disastrous. I would never lose a race due to losing a pole with my bionic hands. I got a bionic eye because it would help me to clearly see the slalom poles. I would never have to worry about straddling a gate or missing one because I didn't see it properly. The bionic eye will also help me to see better during night races or when it is foggy.
BB: Do you feel that your bionic body parts will give you a competitive advantage?
Kostelic: Not really. After eleven operations, my knees are pretty well kaputt. The bionic parts make up for my knees being gone after so much wear and tear on them.
BB: I assume that you checked with the International Skiing Federation (FIS) to make sure that your bionic parts were legal.
Kostelic: Of course I did.  Didier Cuche set a precedent with having bionic knees a few years ago. Therefore, all of my bionic parts are perfectly legal according to the FIS.
BB: So if any other skier decides to have bionic parts, would it also be okay with the FIS?
Kostelic: Yes.
BB: If other racers started getting bionic body parts, won't that put skiers who want to keep their own body parts at a disadvantage? Do you think you are setting a precedent by getting so many bionic body parts?
Kostelic: I am not ready to retire yet and the bionic parts were the best solution to keep me racing. If I start winning every race by huge margins, then everyone else would probably want to get bionic arms and legs. But I don't see that happening. The only reason I got the bionic parts was because of the situation with my knees. I think that only older guys like Benni Raich will get bionic parts to stay competitive. The younger guys don't need them. Ted Ligety won giant slalom races by big margins last season and he does not have any bionic body parts, though many suspect that he has bionic legs. Aksel Lund Svindal also won some downhill races last season by big margins and he does not have bionic legs. So the answer to both of those questions is no.
BB: You are often called the Energizer Bunny of the World Cup because you keep on going and going. Even though you are one of the older guys on the circuit, you still win races. How much longer do you want to keep on racing?
Kostelic: I'll retire when I decide that I have had enough knee operations. But my new bionic parts should help me to race longer and still be competitive.
BB: Ivica, it has been a real pleasure talking to you. I hope that you have a full recovery and much success next season. 
Kostelic: Thank you. It has been a unique experience talking to the Blickbild.
BB: And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters don't have bionic brains. They are naturally intelligent.

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