Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Jessica Dipauli Retires: The Real Reason

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
Austrian ski racer Jessica Dipauli announced her retirement at the age of 21. The others have reported this already, so it is old news. But there is a lot of speculation about why she retired at the start of a promising career in the World Cup. We sent one of our intrepid reporters to Austria to solve the mystery of Jessica's sudden retirement. Our reporter was able to talk with the Austrian women's head trainer, Juergen Kriechbaum, about Jessica. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Herr Kriechbaum, I'm sure that Jessica's decision to retire took you by surprise. It seems like the whole ski world was rather shocked by her announcement.
Kriechbaum: Yes, it was a surprise for us too. The whole Austrian coaching staff was  taken aback. We spend a lot of hours convincing her to stay, but she was insistent on retiring.
BB: Jessica had some problems with injury during the past two seasons. Was that why she decided to quit racing?
Kriechbaum: No, she was 100% fit.
BB: Was she frustrated because she won the Europa Cup overall title by a huge margin and seemed to be struggling in the World Cup?
Kriechbaum: No, she realized that it takes time to adjust to being in the World Cup. Both her teammates and trainers explained that it is a big jump moving up to the World Cup from the Europa Cup.
BB: Was she bullied or shunned by her teammates?
Kriechbaum: Not that I noticed. She seemed to be well-liked by her teammates.
BB: Did she feel burned out on racing?
Kriechbaum: No. Even though now she says that racing no longer became enjoyable, her former trainers always thought that she was having fun. I don't believe she was suffering from burnout.
BB: Does she have a brain tumor tumor that is affecting her judgement?
Kriechbaum: Not that I know of.
BB: Am I going to keep on having to ask you questions until I finally guess correctly?
Kriechbaum: No.
BB: So why did Jessica decide to retire before she was able to achieve her potential?
Kriechbaum: She had a guilty conscience.
BB: Did she feel guilty that she was letting her team and country down because she was not instantly successful in the World Cup?
Kriechbaum: No. She couldn't take the guilt for what she she was doing anymore and she felt that her only way out was to retire.
BB: Tell our readers what caused Jessica to be so consumed with guilt that her only alternative was to retire.
Kriechbaum: Jessica, like the other World Cup women, was part of the Austrian smuggling ring (see this story). Jessica stole a Milka pen and handed it off to an Austrian fan as part of her initiation ritual for moving up to the World Cup. She thought that was the end of it.
BB: But once she stole that pen, did her older teammates want her to steal more things?
Kriechbaum: Yes. Jessica is a girl with high moral standards and a strict sense of right and wrong. She felt guilty about taking things that didn't belong to her, even though she did it at first to fit in with the rest of the team.
BB: Did she know that the money from the stolen items went back to the Austrian Ski Federation?
Kriechbaum: Yes. Her other trainers, her older teammates, and I explained that to her. We told her that she was helping the team by taking the items. But she still didn't want to steal anymore.
BB: What happened when she decided not to take more items from other skiers?
Kriechbaum: Her teammates reminded her about meeting her quota. Lizz Goergl even asked me about hiring Red Bull Mafia hit man Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli to convince Jessica to be more active in the theft ring to meet her quota.
BB: Her quota?
Kriechbaum: Every female Austrian skier has a quota of euros that they are supposed to contribute to the team based on how long they have been in the World Cup. Veterans like Lizz Goergl or Nicole Hosp are required to bring more money to the team. Skiers with Olympic or World Championship medals also have a high quota. Therefore, they must steal more things. Younger skiers like Jessica didn't have as high a quota, but they still had to be part of the theft ring.
BB: So in addition to feeling guilty about stealing, did Jessica also feel guilty about not meeting her quota?
Kriechbaum: That is correct. She felt like she was letting her team and country down.
BB: And she was so consumed with guilt, that she had to quit?
Kriechbaum: Yes.
BB: Couldn't the Austrian Ski Federation have made an exception for Jessica? She is a very talented athlete and it's a shame that we won't be seeing her race anymore.
Kriechbaum: If we made an exception for Jessica, then we would have to for others who suddenly feel guilty about stealing. Pretty soon our ladies would not steal items and our federation would have a lot less money. Our theft ring provides a lot of jobs all over Austria. If it were to be shut down, many people would be out of work.
BB: Poor Jessica had a triple dose of guilt: feeling guilty about stealing, then feeling guilty for not stealing enough and coming up short on her quota, therefore leading to guilt about possibly causing mass unemployment and the Austrian economy to go into a depression. That is a big burden for someone so young.
Kriechbaum: That's right. In the end, she felt it was better to retire than live with the burden of all that guilt. We wanted her to stay on because she has the potential to be a great ski racer. But we also need racers who will bring money to our federation.
BB: Is the Austrian Ski Federation taking any measures to prevent a situation like Jessica's in the future?
Kriechbaum: Yes. From now on, we will do a better job training our skiers. From their earliest days as junior skiers, we will start teaching them to steal small items from racers from other local ski clubs. By the time they reach the Europa and World Cup levels, it will come naturally to them. They won't need an initiation ritual when they reach the World Cup because they will have already stolen from their fellow skiers for years.
BB: I see. Back in March, Julia Mancuso's Go-Pro camera was stolen in Garmisch. Did the Austrian ladies have anything to do with it?
Kriechbaum: No. At first we thought that one of our skiers stole it because it is a high-value item that would bring in a lot of money to the ski federation. But none of the Austrian women admitted to taking it. Usually the women brag about the items that they take, so we know that Austria is innocent.
BB: It looks like we are running out of time. Herr Kriechbaum, thank you for your insight about Jessica's retirement. We at the Blickbild also want to wish Jessica success in her future endeavours. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All the news that the others feel too guilty to print.

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

US Force Prepares to Invade Slovenia

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Before getting into today's interview, we at the Blickbild extend our condolences to Italian racer Dominik Paris and his family. Dominik's brother Rene was killed Friday night in a motorcycle accident.  May he rest in peace.

Even though the lawsuit of Vonn vs Slovenia will be heard in the Vail courts, there is a long queue of cases before it. Lindsey Vonn's father Alan Kildow, who is an attorney, and her boyfriend Tiger Woods have stepped in to help resolve her case before World Cup skiing season opens in October. We sent one of our intrepid reporters to Vail, Colorado to find someone willing to talk about the case and the upcoming invasion of Slovenia. Our reporter ended up in California's Mojave Desert, where he found Colonel Robert Thanus. Let's find out what Colonel Thanus has to say.

BB: Lindsey Vonn's lawsuit against the country of Slovenia will eventually be heard. Why are your troops preparing to invade Slovenia? Why don't you wait for the trial to end?
Thanus: Because there are so many cases ahead of Ms. Vonn's, hers won't be heard until 2016. She really wants to get things resolved before ski season starts so she can concentrate on winning races and also gold medals at the Olympics in February.
BB: Ms. Vonn is suing the country of Slovenia for producing Tina Maze. As our readers know, Tina set new World Cup skiing records this past season for points, podium finishes, and largest margin of points between the first and second overall finishers. Tina was also the first woman to break the 2,000 point barrier. But why sue and invade a whole country because of the actions of one person?
Thanus: You know the old expression about how one person can change the world, right? Tina Maze certainly changed Lindsey's world. She was a major contributor to Lindsey's belly aches and depression last season, especially after breaking 2,000 points. Two thousand points was supposed to be Lindsey's legacy in addition to the margin of victory. Tina stole was rightfully Lindsey's. In addition, Tina refused to hand over her points and Crystal Globes to Lindsey after the season ended. The country of Slovenia must be punished for producing Tina. It's like the old expression of one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch. Everyone in Slovenia is rotten by association with Tina.
BB: I sort of understand your logic. There is one big question here. The Boston Blickbild has the most intrepid research team in the business. But nobody could find anything anywhere about President Obama or the Congress authorizing the US military to invade Slovenia. Is this invasion a secret?
Thanus: My army is not associated with the US military. We are a private army. Because of that, we don't fall under Congress or the president.
BB: So you are not a proper colonel?
Thanus: I am a real colonel in Kildow's Army.
BB: Kildow's Army?
Thanus: Yes. We are primarily made up of unemployed fans of Lindsey Vonn who normally spend all of their time on the Internet reading and commenting about her. Our only requirement is that our soldiers live in the USA. No Euro socialists allowed in Kildow's Army! As you know, a lot of people in the USA need good jobs and we are providing them. We are paying our soldiers the same salary as a US Army soldier.  Our soldiers also get generous benefits like free health care, housing, child care, and meals.
BB: How did you recruit people to join your army?
Thanus: Social networking is a wonderful tool. We put notices on Lindsey's regular Facebook page and also on her fan pages. We also went through Twitter. The response was amazing. In just two hours we had 150,000 people who signed up. Our first group of 25,000 is almost finished with its training.
BB: I see. How did you get the financing to pay all of those people their salaries plus benefits? That is a lot of money.
Thanus: Lindsey's father, Alan Kildow, is an attorney and has a lot of money. He has to be rich to afford to give his oldest daughter ski racing training from early childhood. Lindsey's boyfriend, golfer Tiger Woods, is one of the highest-paid athletes in the world. Both Alan and Tiger have a vested interest in keeping Lindsey happy and free of belly aches. Most of the financing for Kildow's Army is coming from them. Red Bull is also contributing an unlimited amount of its energy drink and some of its doctors. I never realized that there are so many former East German doctors working for Red Bull. Some of Lindsey's other sponsors have also made generous contributions. We are also using the money that her fans and the people of Vail contributed to her trial defense fund. There is also a special property tax in Vail and that tax money goes to finance Kildow's Army.
BB: Why are you training in the middle of the desert? There are no deserts in Slovenia.
Thanus: To get to Slovenia from the west, and ensure the best chance of a sneak attack, it is best to cross the Kalahari Desert. Training here will help us to survive the Kalahari.
BB: The Kalahari Desert is in southern Africa. Slovenia is in Europe. I can see crossing the Kalahari if you want to invade Swaziland from the west. But you would go through Italy to invade Slovenia from the west.
Thanus: We don't want our soldiers in Italy. A lot of them are, shall we say, rather overweight. The last thing they need to eat is pizza, pasta, and Italian ice cream.
BB: Austria borders Slovenia on the north. It would be easy to invade Slovenia from Austria.
Thanus: That's impossible! Austria is in the southern hemisphere and is an island.
BB: You're thinking of Australia. Didn't you ever see "The Sound of Music?" (Col. Thanus nods) Maria is from Austria. Kangaroos are from Australia.
Thanus: After crossing the desert, we will trek through the plains and then cross over the mountains. Our soldiers will finally get to Slovenia after about four weeks of travel by foot.
BB: Why don't you fly your soldiers to Slovenia or drop them in by parachute?
Thanus: That certainly takes away the element of surprise. As we march, we will take out every town and village, until we finally arrive at the capital city of Bratislava. By the time we get to Bratislava, everyone will be ready to surrender to us. We will get one million dollars from every person in Slovenia and give it to Lindsey for the pain and suffering that Tina inflicted on her last season.
BB: Excuse me, but Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia. But I guess I should give you credit for  being on the right continent.
Thanus: If Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, then what is the capital of Slovenia?
BB: Ljubljana.
Thanus: That can't be! Mr. Kildow had maps specially commissioned for our army. They say that our objective is Bratislava. They look good to me.
BB: Let me have a look. (pause) Oh my goodness!  Swaziland is labeled as Switzerland and vice versa. Sri Lanka is labeled as Slovakia, Slovakia is labeled as Slovenia, and Slovenia is labeled as Sri Lanka. Estonia is also labeled as Slovenia.
Thanus: From what I was told, Estonia is a colony of Slovenia. Once we get Slovenia subdued, Estonia will follow us. We will also collect one million dollars from every person in Estonia, since it is technically part of Slovenia.
BB: I see. You said before that your soldiers will approach Slovenia on foot. Have you thought about the logistics of how they will be supplied? Four weeks is a long time and soldiers will need to be resupplied with ammunition, food, clean clothing, and hygeine items along the way. Plus there is the time that they will actually be fighting.  What they plunder is probably not sufficient to feed and clothe everyone.
Thanus: We will use elephants to carry all of our supplies. If they were good enough for Hannibal, they are good enough for us!
BB: Won't people be suspicious seeing soldiers in uniform with a bunch of elephants? That's a rather unusual sight.
Thanus: That's the idea. People will welcome us with open arms because they will think that the circus is in town. We will take everyone by surprise! They won't know what hit them.
BB: Where will you get the elephants?
Thanus: Red Bull and HEAD, two of Lindsey's main sponsors, have connections everywhere. I was told to simply accept the elephants without asking how we will get them. They will be in Europe waiting for us. (pause) Hey, you seem smart and intrepid. We could use people like you to help lead our army. Would you be interested in joining?
BB: Of course I am intrepid! The Blickbild only hires intrepid reporters. Thank you for the offer, but I am very happy here. When do you plan to invade Slovenia?
Thanus: We are hoping to get the first wave going in the next three weeks. The second and third waves will follow a short time afterward, when they finish their training.
BB: Will you have your maps corrected by then? I'm sure the people of Slovakia would not appreciate being invaded. After all, Slovak racers Veronika Velez-Zuzulova, Petra Vlhova, and Adam Zampa never harmed Lindsey.
Thanus: But they could in the future. Maybe we should launch a pre-emptive strike against Slovakia after we finish the job in Slovenia.
BB: Oh dear! That does not sound good at all. Wouldn't your first step be to get the maps fixed? Then you can at least invade the right country.
Thanus: I'll have to bring them to Mr. Kildow. Hopefully we can have them fixed by the time we are ready to invade. Otherwise, we will go with what we have. Those Slovenians will be sorry that Tina Maze was ever born!
BB: Hopefully you will have everthing sorted out before your army leaves for Europe.
Thanus: We will. Within two weeks of our invasion force taking the capital, Slovenia will be ours! Lindsey will have her rightful legacy restored before the first race in Soelden.
BB: Of course.  Colonel Thanus, I want to thank you for your time. Good luck with your training and invasion plans. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We tried to get to Argentina, but took a wrong turn and ended up in Albania.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

FIS Bans Ojlmsfjaegger, Norway Protests Decision

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
Yesterday the International Ski Federation (FIS) passed a resolution classifying ojlmsfjaegger as a banned substance because it appears to enhance performance. Ojlmsfjaegger, as our regular readers know, are cubes of pickled reindeer heart covered in a special chocolate and smoked salmon sauce. They are eaten at birthday parties in Norway. The Norwegian Ski Federation (NSF) immediately protested the decision, charging the FIS with discrimination and destruction of cultural heritage. In the interests of fairness, we sent one of our intrepid reporters to FIS headquarters in Switzerland and another to the NSF offices in Oslo. Nobody from the FIS was willing to talk with us, but NSF Alpine Chief Claus Johan Ryste took some time to talk with our reporter. Let's find out what he has to say.
BB: Why would the FIS go after ojlmsfjaegger? It's a special treat that Norwegians eat at birthday parties.
Ryste: Since the connection between US skier Lindsey Vonn and the East German doping doctor who works for Red Bull was revealed, the FIS has been getting more serious about drug testing. We are seeing many articles in the press questioning if Alpine ski racers are using performance enhancing drugs. We are also seeing more tweets and Facebook postings from athletes about having to take a drug test. It seems that the FIS is looking into everything that the athletes consume.
BB: Our intrepid research staff has also noticed the increase in athletes reporting their drug tests. But why your beloved national birthday treat? I don't see how reindeer organs, fish sauce, and chocolate are akin to EPO or other performance enhancers.
Ryste: Not just any reindeer organs, reindeer hearts. And it's smoked salmon and not fish in general. You really need to learn about Norwegian cuisine. (short pause) According to the FIS, each of those ingredients is benign. The reindeer hearts and smoked salmon sauce are a great source of protein. The chocolate adds carbohydrates for energy. One of the chemists at the FIS evidently discovered that when all three of those ingredients are combined, the effect is the same as EPO.
BB: What if you figured out the ingredient that was causing the EPO-like effects and substituted it with something similar? Instead of reindeer hearts use elk hearts, or use herring for the sauce instead of salmon.
Ryste: If you changed the ingredients, then they wouldn't be ojlmsfjaegger anymore.
BB: You have a good point. (short pause) Do you think that the FIS is really going after Norway because it has a small, yet very good, ski team?
Ryste: I think that is the real reason. Norway has always had a small team with big stars like Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Lasse Kjus, Aksel Lund Svindal, and Kjetil Jansrud. The FIS won't go after Austria, Switzerland, or the USA because they have big teams and more influence. For example, Lindsey Vonn drinks about 20 cans of Red Bull a day and has been the dominant women's speed skier for the past five years. Nobody is accusing her of doping because of her Red Bull consumption, which puts mere mortals to shame. Yet when Aksel wins Crystal Globes and world championship and Olympic medals in the speed events, the FIS wants to ban a food that has been part of Norwegian culture since Viking times. I think that the real reason the FIS is going after Norway is because our skiers, especially Aksel and Kjetil, can beat those from the bigger nations.
BB: That is ironic going after Aksel, since he is one of the athletes calling for blood tests, which are more sensitive than urine tests in detecting performance enhancing substances. If he had something to hide, or if he thought he was getting an extra advantage from eating ojlmsfjaegger, he would not be saying that blood should be tested.
Ryste: That is correct. Aksel also only eats ojlmsfjaegger an average of once a month and has always passed his drug tests. When the testers come to collect Aksel's urine, he also voluntarily gives them blood, sputum, hair, and stool samples to prove that he really is clean. Ms. Vonn drinks about 5 liters of Red Bull every day, but the FIS has not considered banning Red Bull.
BB: Red Bull does sponsor some of the athletes like Lindsey, Erik Guay, and even Aksel. They also put a lot of money into World Cup racing. There are no ojlmsfjaegger firms sponsoring racers or the World Cup.
Ryste: That's because there are no large firms that make ojlmsfjaegger, just Norwegian mothers and grandmothers. Okay, there are some small firms that make ojlmsfjaegger, but they don't make enough money to sponsor ski racers because mass-produced ojlmsfjaegger taste awful. I would rather eat a dead fish that has been left outside in the sun for a week than store-bought ojlmsfjaegger.
BB:  What will be the NSF's next step?
Ryste: We are going to ask the FIS for an exemption for Norwegian skiers to have ojlmsfjaegger. If cyclists can get exemptions for their asthma inhalers, then Norway should be able to get one for a favorite food. Ojlmsfjaegger are a vital part of our culture.
BB: If the FIS won't grant an exemption for your racers, what will happen?
Ryste: We will ask for a hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the grounds of the FIS denying Norwegian skiers their cultural heritage. Our athletes have been eating ojlmsfjaegger for over 1000 years and nobody accused us of cheating in all that time.
BB: What do you think your chances are of winning an exemption for Norway?
Ryste: I am optimistic and am hoping that the FIS will change its mind. If the FIS let Marcel Hirscher have a seeing eye dog to guide him through slalom courses, then we should be allowed to have our traditional birthday treat. Norway is the only country whose national food was put on the FIS's banned substances list. We feel that the FIS is engaging in discriminatory practices and is singling out Norway because it is a small ski nation. The NSF also has evidence that the FIS chemists faked their lab results.
BB: Can you share your evidence with us?
Ryste: Unfortunately, we can't except to say that we know that one of the technicians who handled the ojlmsfjaegger samples used to work at the Red Bull testing center in Thalgau. After working in Thalgau, he worked for Major League Baseball in the USA. Now he works for the FIS. That is all I can reveal to you because we need to keep everything else under wraps until we have a hearing.
BB:  Have skiers from other countries ever wanted to try ojlmsfjaegger?
Ryste: No, that is the funny thing. When our skiers have a birthday during racing season, and we make ojlmsfjaegger, none of the skiers from other countries will eat them. I can't imagine why. Nothing beats the combination of pickled reindeer hearts, smoked salmon, and chocolate! Anyway, if ojlmsfjaegger really acted like EPO or steriods, I believe that the athletes from other countries would eat them too, especially if they believed that eating them would make them faster and stronger.
BB: Gemany, France and Italy have team witch doctors. Has the FIS tested any of the potions that those witch doctors make for the skiers that they work with?
Ryste: I don't know. If you want my opinion, I don't believe so. Otherwise those federations would also have been investigated and the potions would be considered banned substances.
BB: Will Norway have a team witch doctor soon?
Ryste: Not in the near future. Our team is naturally talented and we have good mental preparation. I don't see us needing a witch doctor's services. Of course if the FIS requires us to have one, we will go to Africa and get one.
BB: Do you think that the FIS is trying to deflect attention from the fact that Lindsey Vonn visits a clinic that is run by a doctor who systematically doped teenaged athletes? Her current boyfriend, Tiger Woods, was also involved with a shady doctor.
Ryste: That is very possible. Nobody came after us before the media broke the story about her association with the East German doctor. The team was left alone to enjoy one of its favorite treats. As I said before, Norwegian athletes have eaten ojlmsfjaegger for many years without any problems. I personally don't believe that ojlmsfjaegger have the same effect as performance enhancing drugs. If they did, then our athletes would win every race by large margins. But that is not happening. Norwegian athletes win some races and lose some.
BB: It looks like our time is running out. I want to thank you for this interview and wish you luck in your case with the FIS.
Ryste: Thank you. All of Norway supports its ski team and we are getting a lot of contributions to our defense fund.
BB: And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All the stories that the others think are too ridiculous to print.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Austrian Divorce Law

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
Our readers are probably wondering what Austrian divorce laws have to do with ski racing. The Blickbild is a World Cup ski racing site and not a marriage or law site. However, our intrepid research team found out that Austria passed a new divorce law that has a direct relationship to ski racing. Starting on 1 September 2013, refusal to let a spouse attend a World Cup ski race is grounds for divorce. Here to talk with us is Salzburg attorney Thomas Gruber, whose client was responsible for getting this law passed. The client, Maria T, did not wish to be interviewed because she wishes to maintain her anonymity. Let's find out what Herr Gruber has to say.
BB: Are you related to retired skiing star Christof Gruber?
Gruber: No. Gruber is a very common surname in Austria.
BB: Tell us about the new Austrian divorce law.
Gruber: It says that one spouse has grounds for divorce if the other spouse refuses to let him or her attend a World Cup ski race.
BB: That seems a bit over the top. People don't get divorced because their spouses say that they can't go shopping or to a concert. Why is this such a big deal?
Gruber: You are not from Austria, so you don't understand. Ski racing is Austria's national pastime. It is the biggest thing in the country.
BB: Sports in the States like American football or baseball are also national pastimes. But couples don't get divorced because a woman doesn't want her husband to attend a football (American football) game.
Gruber: Let me put this in perspective for you. When boys are born in Austria, their rooms are decorated with posters of famous Austrian ski racers like Franz Klammer, Hermann Maier, and  Benjamin Raich. Baby girls have photos of Renate Goetschl, Annemarie Moser-Proell, and Elisabeth Goergl in their rooms. An entrance requirement for first grade in Austrian schools is being able to recognize past and current ski racers. One of the required subjects on both the high school graduation and university entrance exams is ski racing.
BB: What do school exams have to do with divorce law?
Gruber: I'm getting there. I wanted to add that the only programs on Austrian TV are about ski racing. The different Austrian channels either show live races, replays of races from different eras, and interviews with past and current ski racers. There are quiz shows on Austrian TV, but all of the questions are about ski racing. The only thing on Austrian TV that does not have to do with ski racing is the news. But the sports report on the news is about ski racing.
BB: I noticed that when I flipped through the TV channels in my hotel room. Anyway, let's get back to the subject of divorce.
Gruber: I will. I was just giving you some background information.
BB: Thank you. Our readers will appreciate it. Can you tell us about Maria T. and how she got the law changed?
Gruber: Maria is a secretary for a firm in Salzburg that makes ski clothing. She had been married for ten years. Like all of the other girls in Austria, Maria grew up following ski racing. After getting married, she and her husband would drive to Flachau for the races. They would also attend races in other parts of Austria, though Maria could tell that her husband's heart really wasn't in it. In 2009 Maria wanted to go to the season-opening races in Soelden with some of her girlfriends and her husband told her that she couldn't. She then told her husband that she wanted a divorce. He told her to fight him in court, since refusal to let a spouse attend a race was not considered grounds for divorce.
BB: I see. How were you able to obtain a divorce for Maria?
Gruber: My strategy with Maria was to show that not being permitted to attend a ski race was the same thing as psychological abuse. Her husband may not have abused her physically, but she felt like she was being kept a prisoner in her own home. Maria also felt that her husband was not respecting her culture. In addition, he told Maria that they could not afford for her to go to Soelden with her friends, yet he was spending money to attend Red Bull Salzburg football games with his friends.
BB: Is her ex-husband a foreigner?
Gruber: Yes. He is originally from the USA. Therefore, he did not respect the fact that ski racing is a vital part of Austrian culture. He became an Austrian citizen, but evidently forgot what he learned in his citizenship exam prep classes.
BB: How exactly is not permitting a spouse to attend a ski race akin to abuse?
Gruber: Imagine that you are a religious person and your spouse won't let you go to church. Or think about those poor women whose husbands don't let them go shopping, have jobs, or go to a restaurant with their friends. This is considered mental cruelty, which is grounds for divorce in Austria. Because of Maria and her case, we were able to expand the definition of mental cruelty to not being allowed to attend a ski race. When the judge heard our case, he sided with Maria and granted her a divorce.
BB: To me there is a difference between not being able to go to the grocery store on your own and not going to a race. If you don't go to a race, you can always watch it on TV.
Gruber: That's not the point. The issue was that Maria was prevented from doing something that is culturally important to her. It is part of who she is and she was adversely affected by her husband's cruelty.
BB: Was this new law declared constitutional by the Austrian Supreme Court?
Gruber: Yes. The Supreme Court just deemed it constitutional and the Legislature passed it by a nine-to-one margin. I'm sure that the people who voted against it will not be re-elected.
BB: What about a husband who tells his wife that she can't go to a race because the family can't afford it? Hotels, restaurants, and race tickets can be quite expensive.
Gruber: The new law addresses this issue by setting up a fund to help Austrian citizens afford to attend ski races. People can apply for money from this fund, which does not need to be paid back. The deadline for applying for this season's races is 1 October. This fund can be used for race tickets, hotels, and meals. Other items, such as souvenirs, are not covered.
BB: Do you think that there will be a rush of spouses filing for divorce because they can't attend ski races?
Gruber: No, I think that the new law will have the opposite effect. Married couples will be able to stay together because, thanks to the new fund, they will be able to afford to go to the races. Couples will also realize that it is in their best interest to let a husband or wife attend a race, especially if there are no other marital issues. Austria's cultural heritage will be preserved for generations to come thanks to Maria.
BB: By the way, what happened to Maria's ex-husband?
Gruber: He moved to Innsbruck and is working as an engineer. Last year he remarried and he and his wife are expecting a baby. His wife's due date is 26 October, which is ironically the opening day in Soelden this coming season.
BB: Herr Gruber, our time is coming to an end. I want to thank you for this interview. I'm sure that husbands and wives all over Austria are also thanking you. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We don't have to worry about our intrepid reporters getting divorced when they go to ski races because they have press passes.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

World Cup Start Order Made Simple

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
Our mailbox is always full of letters, e-mails, and tweets asking how the International Ski Federation (FIS) determines the start order of World Cup races. People have questioned why someone in the top seven in a discipline has a start number that does not correspond to his or her current ranking. In fact, this was one of the items on the agenda at the recent FIS planning conference in Dubrovnik. Even the powers that be at the FIS realize that the start order system needs to be simplified so that average fans can understand it. We sent one of our intrepid reporters to Dubrovnik to interview one of the FIS delegates about it. Because this information has not yet officially been released to the general public, the FIS representative asked us to disguise his identity. He wanted to be called Bob. Let's find out what Bob has to say.  
BB: You are European. Why do you want to be called Bob?
Bob: I have always been fascinated with America. Bob is a typical American name.
BB: Fair enough. Please tell our readers a little bit about the current system of determining start order in a race.
Bob: We would take the results of a skier's last 10 races in a particular discipline, add the points together, then divide by 10 to get the average number of points per race. We would take that number and add it to the current season's total.
BB: That system seems pretty straightforward.
Bob: It was. But there was a problem with it. There are usually not ten races in a discipline in a season, so early in the season we had to go back two seasons to get full results. Also, if a racer missed a season due to injury, then we were going back three or even four seasons to get a 10 race average. Another problem is that skiers who are new to the World Cup may not have 10 races to average. They would be stuck with high start numbers. Fans could not understand why new racers who did well kept having start numbers in the 40s and higher.
BB: For newer racers, wouldn't they just use the number of starts that they had and average the points from those?
Bob: The FIS did not want to do that. I don't know why. Maybe it had something to do with maintaining the status quo of racers in the top 30.
BB: Or to make it even simpler, why not just use the previous season's points for the first race of the new season and then only the new season's points to figure out the start order?
Bob: The FIS wants to make sure that the top seven racers are consistently good and not in the best group because they had one good race.
BB: I guess that makes sense. What has changed with the new system for determining start order?
Bob: First of all, we just go back to the previous season to figure out start order and not back two or three. Mathematicians at the FIS developed this formula to get the racers in the correct start order: [PS/(VS/SL)] + [(VF * LF)/4] + CS.
BB: That looks even more complicated than the formula the FIS is currently using. What do all of those letters stand for in this formula?
Bob: PS is the previous season's points in a discipline. CS is the current season's point total. VS is the numerical value of a racer's surname. SL is the number of letters in the surname. VF is the numerical value of the racer's first name. LF is the number of letters in his or her first name. What we do is take the previous season's points, divide them by the numerical value of the surname divided by the number of letters in the surname. Then we multiply the numerical value of the racer's first name by the number of letters in the first name and divide that total by four. Those numbers are added together. The result is rounded off to the second decimal place. The current season's points are then added to this total and the grand total is rounded off to the nearest whole number.
BB: Whoa! Hold on a minute. What do you mean by the numerical value of the first and last names?
Bob: Each letter in a racer's name is assigned a numerical value. Using the English alphabet, A has a value of 1, B is 2, C is 3, and so on to Z equals 26. I'll use Aksel Lund Svindal as an example. The numerical value of his last and first names respectively are 81 and 46.
BB: I see. Can you plug these numbers into your formula so our readers can see how it works?
Bob: Of course. I will use his downhill points from last season. Aksel had 439 points in downhill last season. So it would be [439/(81/7)] + [(46 * 5)/4] + 0, since the new season hasn't started yet. Solving the equations, it would be (439/11.57) + (230/4), which come out to 95.44, rounded to 95. He would start the season in downhill with 95 points. As the season continues, and he accumulates points, his start position could go up or down. As in previous years, only the current season points count for the Crystal Globe. This formula is only used to determine starting position.
BB: Just for fun, who would be the top 7 male downhillers for the first race using your formula?
Bob: From first to seventh it would be: Innerhofer, Paris, Heel, Reichelt, Jansrud, Kroell, and Svindal. I only did the numbers from the top-10 downhillers from last season. Maybe one of the skiers further down the line could be in the top seven, depending on the numerical value of his name.
BB: It seems like this new formula favors those with short last names,  surnames with a lot of letters in the first half of the alphabet, and long first names.  Marie-Michele Gagnon would have an automatic advantage over Lara Gut or Anna Fenninger because of her long first name.
Bob: That is why we divide the value of the first name times the number of letters by four. Then the numerical advantage is not so large. The points from the previous season also help to make up the difference.
BB: I can already see that there is a bug in your formula. Four-time giant slalom globe winner Ted Ligety comes out tenth out of the top 10 giant slalom skiers because of his first name and 10th place Philipp Schoerghofer actually starts with the most points.
Bob: But if Ted keeps on skiing GS the way he has over the past five seasons, he will be back on top.
BB: I also noticed that you only used Aksel Lund Svindal's first name in your calculations.
Bob: That's right. His first name is Aksel. Lund is his mother's maiden name, which many Norwegians use like a middle name.
BB: So if a skier has a hyphenated first name, like Marie-Michele Gagnon or Anne-Sophie Barthet, all of those letters are used?
Bob: That is correct. If Aksel wants his mum's maiden name to count in the calculations, he will need to legally change his name to Aksel-Lund.
BB: Do you think that as this rule goes into effect, skiers will change or lengthen their first names in order to get more points and a better starting position? For example, do you see Ted Ligety becoming Theodore Ligety, Max Franz becoming Maximillian Franz, Anna Fenninger changing to Anna-Kristina Fenninger, or Lara Gut changing her name to Stephanie Gut?
Bob: No. If the skiers with short first names ski well, they will eventually end up in the top starting places and in contention for Crystal Globes.
BB: What happens if a skier missed a season due to injury? Beat Feuz, Bode Miller, and Johanna Schnarf are all coming back after missing last season. Where would they start in their first races?
Bob: Instead of using the full number of points in a discipline, a skier who missed a season would start with 50% of the points that he or she got in the last season in which he or she competed. We would then use the last and first name calculations to determine their starting position. Skiers who missed two seasons would start with 25% of their points. Anyone who missed more than two seasons will start with zero.
BB: How did the athletes feel about this change? I'm sure that Ted Ligety is not happy about a number 10 starting position in GS when he has been the best in four out of the past five years.
Bob: We polled the athletes and got mixed results. Ted, Tina Maze, and Lara Gut were, shall we say, less than thrilled. But others, like Veronique Hronek, Marie-Michele Gagnon, and Dominique Gisin, thought it was great. But in the end the FIS went with this new formula. Of course safety is our number one priority. But one of our other priorities is always being right.
BB: Of course it is. The FIS is always right, even when it is wrong.
Bob: That is our motto.
BB: We at the Blickbild are looking forward to Soelden to see this new start order formula in action. And that concludes another  Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Chemmy Alcott to Train With Norway

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

British skier Chemmy Alcott will be training with the Norwegian team in her quest for a top 8 finish at the 2014 Olympics. We at the Blickbild admire the determination and fighting spirit that she showed in coming back from a broken leg and working toward her Olympic dream. She may not have as many World Cup wins as other skiers, but she is a wonderful role model for those who have suffered a severe injury. The others have reported on Chemmy training with Norway. But they did not get this exclusive interview with her about her new training partners and much more. Let's find out what Chemmy has to say.

BB: Tell our readers about your new training partners.
Alcott: I will be training with Lotte Smiseth Sejersted and Ragnhild Mowinckel. Both of them are young, very talented racers with a lot of potential. They will inspire me to go fast and do my best. When Lotte can do in the real races what she does in training, she will be unbeatable. Ragnhild will also be very good in few years with more World Cup experience. 
BB: It would also be good for them to train with you because of your World Cup experience. 
Alcott: It is a win-win situation for both Norway and myself. I can pass on my experience to Ragnhild and Lotte and I am also benefitting from their coaching staff. I don't have to worry about coming up with funding to put together a coaching team for myself. 
BB: How is your Norwegian?
Alcott: Nonexistent. But everyone on the team speaks English. I'm sure I'll pick up some Norwegian along the way. I already know how to pronounce most Norwegian names because of my Eurosport commentating experience. I can also read a Norwegian restaurant menu so I know not to order seal brains or walrus intestines.
BB: There is speculation that the real reason you are training with Norway is because you have a secret crush on Aksel Lund Svindal.
Alcott: That's not true. Aksel is my best friend's boyfriend and I have no intention of taking him away from her. Julia Mancuso and Aksel belong together.
BB: Were you in on Aksel's prank to swap out some of the Milka hearts that he gave Julia on Valentine's Day with ojlmsfjaegger? He and Henrik Kristofferson even made them look like real Milka chocolate hearts.
Alcott: With what?!?
BB: Ojlmsfjaegger. They are a special treat that Norwegians have on their birthdays. Ojlmsfjaegger are cubes of pickled reindeer heart with a special chocolate and smoked salmon sauce. 
Alcott: I have been to Norway, both as a racer and Eurosport commentator, and I never heard of them. But they sound positively dreadful!
BB: They are actually quite tasty. I had some that Kjetil Jansrud's grandmother made. As you can see, I survived eating them. 
Alcott: I now understand why the Blickbild's reporters are known for being so intrepid.
BB: We have the most intrepid reporters in the business. (slight pause) I don't know why you never had them. Lotte's birthday is during race season. 
Alcott: Maybe she never brought any to the races on her birthday. Or maybe only the Norwegians ate them because the other ladies knew what they were.
BB: Who do you think the best ojlmsfjaegger maker on the Norwegian speed team is, Lotte or Ragnhild? 
Alcott: I have no idea.
BB: If you had to pick one, who would it be?
Alcott: I guess I would go with Lotte. She is the older of the two.
BB: If you're going to train with the Norwegians, you need to appreciate their cuisine. 
Alcott: When I was in Norway I had reindeer meat, smoked salmon, and chocolate, just not all combined. I have liked everything that I have eaten in Norway.
BB: You will probably even learn how to make ojlmsfjaegger if you are going to be part of the Norwegian team.
Alcott: I'm not becoming Norwegian or joining their team. I'm simply training with them.
BB: Let's talk about the recovery from your broken leg. You had a remarkable recovery and even made your comeback at the same place where you incurred the injury. You showed a lot of courage coming back in Lake Louise. 
Alcott: Thank you. I wanted to come back in the same place where I broke my leg to prove to myself that I could race there without any problems.
BB: You are as intrepid as our reporters. If you ever need a job after you retire from racing, we will gladly hire you.
Alcott: Thank you, but I already have an offer from Eurosport. The reporters at Eurosport aren't as intrepid as yours, but I get on very well with them.
BB: You were an excellent commentator for Eurosport and if you go back to them, you will be a great asset to the Alpine skiing commentating team. (pause) How does you leg feel now?
Alcott:  Fine. It doesn't bother me. I am ready to begin preparing for the upcoming race season.
BB: What are your goals for this season?
Alcott: I would like a top-8 finish at the Olympics in either the downhill or Super-G.
BB: You will have a lot of competition at the Olympics. 
Alcott: That's true. But I also have a lot of experience that the younger ladies don't have. There are times when experience trumps natural talent. I will draw on my experience to do my best.
BB: Speaking of Olympic dreams, do you think that your former training partner Larisa Yurkiw will join you in training with the Norwegians?
Alcott: That would be lovely if she did. It was a real pity that Canada shut down its women's downhill program. I hope that she finds some good training partners. She deserves a shot at competing at the Olympics after missing the 2010 Games.
BB: I'm sure that you will have a great season and Olympics because of training with the Norwegian team. 
Alcott: I hope to. Do you think they will make me eat ojlmsfjaegger?
BB: According to our intrepid research team, any Norwegian skier moving up to the World Cup must eat ojlmsfjaegger that is either store-bought or made with frozen reindeer hearts. It's an initiation ritual that has been practiced for as long as Norwegians have been skiing.
Alcott: It's a good thing I'm not Norwegian and I have been in the World Cup for many seasons.
BB: But you're an honorary Norwegian because you will be training with Team Norway. Even though you're simply training with the team, you still must go through its initiation ritual.
Alcott: Oh dear! Is there any way I can get out of it?
BB: I'm afraid not. But now you know why the Norwegian team is small yet very strong. 
Alcott: It looks like I picked the wrong team to train with. Hopefully there is still time to find another team who will take me on that won't make me eat such horrid stuff. Or maybe I could pawn the ojlmsfjaegger off on Nick Fellows. He will eat anything.
BB: It looks like we are running out of time. Chemmy, I want to thank you for this interview and want to wish you success in both the World Cup this coming season and at the Olympics. 
Alcott: Thank you. This was a very unique interview.
BB: Our interviews are always unique. Don't worry about the ojlmsfjaegger. If I lived to tell about eating them, you will too. Who knows, they may make you ski even faster. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We don't have any initiation rituals for our reporters at the Blickbild.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

FIS Announces New Competition Format Changes

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

International Ski Federation (FIS) delegates are enjoying a holiday in Dubrovnik, Croatia basking in the sun, taking side trips, and eating delicious Croatian food. In between their excursions and meals they met about planning upcoming race schedules for the next few seasons. But the Blickbild beat the competition in bringing our readers a story that nobody else is brave enough to print. We have just learned that the FIS will change how ski racing competitions will be run starting in the 2016/17 season. One of our intrepid reporters in Dubrovnik caught up with FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper during a break in the action. Let's find out what Herr Kasper has to say.

BB: Herr Kasper, please tell our readers about these new and exciting changes to FIS World Cup races.
Kasper: There will be two big changes. The first is that all ski races will use a City Event format. The second is that there will be at least one race on every continent except Antarctica.
BB: Why will all races be City Events?
Kasper: The City Events in Munich and Moscow have been very successful in promoting Alpine skiing. Both the athletes and spectators enjoy these events. We have had very good attendance at both the Munich and Moscow events.
BB: The Munich events were well-attended. But only about 100 people showed up in Moscow for the 2013 City Event.
Kasper: In 2012 only about 20 people attended the Moscow event. We made the mistake of scheduling it on the same night as a Champions League football match. For the 2013 City Event the FIS made sure that no football matches were being played in Moscow and the attendance quintupled.
BB: I see your point. Were there any other reasons for having only City Events?
Kasper: Tickets to ski races cost a lot of money. At most competitions the spectators only see the very end. They watch most of the race on the big video screen. So our fans are basically paying to watch TV. They could watch the whole race for free at home and stay warm. At City Events the spectators can see the whole course from start to finish. They will get their money's worth when they attend a World Cup race. Also, even though speed races last a long time, they are usually over by the time the 30th racer finishes. But the fans have to sit through more racers before the award ceremony. Giant slalom and slalom races are all day affairs. A City Event only takes about two hours, which is much less time than a traditional race.
BB: I can understand that. I'd much rather be at home in front of the TV drinking hot chocolate instead of sitting or standing outside in the cold for hours to watch a race. Was that the only consideration for changing the race format?
Kasper: No. Another factor was weather and snow conditions. FIS course workers spend a lot of time preparing a race course. One snowstorm can ruin a perfectly prepared course as can wind and fog. A City Event requires a lot less preparation time than a traditional race. We just need to build the ramp, put snow on it, set up the gates, and voila, the course is ready. No having to cancel races due to bad weather or too much fresh snow.
BB: Does this mean that there will be no more races in the disciplines of downhill, Super-G, giant slalom, slalom, and combined?
Kasper: Not at all. But they will be run on parallel courses on ramps in the different disciplines.
BB: What about races in traditional venues like Wengen or Kitzbuehel? The reason those races are classics is because of the courses. It is exciting to see how a racer handles the Mausfalle in Kitzbuehel or watching him go under the train bridge in Wengen. That would be lost skiing on a ramp instead of on the natural piste.
Kasper: At the FIS we are working on the technology to give racers the look and feel of a real ski run while skiing on a ramp. We are developing video technology that makes the racers think they are on a natural piste in that venue and we're also working on the same technology that is used in flight simulators to give the athletes the feel of a real piste. Those items are currently in the testing phase and should be ready by October 2016 in Soelden.
BB: Wouldn't that be a lot of work to build new ramps in every race location for the different disciplines?
Kasper: Not at all. FIS engineers have developed portable ramps that can easily be put up and taken down. We will have two sizes of ramps, one for downhill and Super-G and one for giant slalom and slalom. The ramps for the speed events are about twice as long as the ones for the technical disciplines, which are the same size as current City Event ramps. We can change the gate configuration based on the type of race being run on the ramps. For the slaloms we will also use slalom poles instead of gates. It will be just like a race on a natural ski run, only the athletes will compete side-by-side as they do in the current City Events.
BB: How will a super-combined race be run? Will there be two ramps?
Kasper: We will use the downhill/Super-G ramp, but the slalom course will start halfway down the ramp. The racers will still compete side-by-side; but one side will be set up for the slalom and the other for the downhill. One racer will start on the slalom and the other on the downhill. Then they will switch and the two times will be added.
BB: How will the courses be set?
Kasper: The FIS will set the downhill courses and ensure that both sides have the exact gate configuration. The other events will be set by representatives from the various countries, just like they are now. Nations with racers in the top 15 in their respective disciplines are eligible to set the courses. Course setters will be determined before the season begins.
BB: What about Ante Kostelic? Will he be allowed to set any courses?
Kasper: Not on your life! If Croatia has skiers in the top 15, the FIS will designate an alternate course setter. There is no way Ante Kostelic will be allowed anywhere near a course!
BB: Will you use the same single elimination format as the current City Events?
Kasper: Yes. The racers will do two runs, one on each side of the ramp. Winners are determined by the combined time of both runs. If there is a tie after both runs, the skiers will play Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine who goes on to the next round. The skiers will compete in rounds until there is a winner. The two semi-finalists who did not make it to the final will also compete for third and fourth places.
BB: Will the point system change, and if so, how?
Kasper: Yes. We will keep the traditional system of the top 30 racers getting points. Since there will be 32 competitors in a race under the new format, two racers will not receive points. First place is worth 100 points, second 80, third 60 and fourth 50. The skiers who get knocked out in the quarter finals, which would be places five through eight, will each get 25 points. The racers who are eliminated in the second round, places nine through sixteen, will each receive 10 points. All of the skiers who lose their first round races, except for two, will receive one point for participation.
BB: How will you determine which two skiers will not get a participation point?
Kasper: After the first round, we will put 16 pieces of paper in a bowl. Fourteen will have a number 1 printed on them. The other two will have a sad face. The skiers who lose their first round races will draw a piece of paper from the bowl. The ones who get the papers with the 1 will get a point. The ones who draw a sad face will get zero.
BB: The City Events have been criticized as being exclusionary because only 16 men and 16 women can participate. How will the FIS determine who will get to participate in the new races? In a traditional race there can sometimes be over 70 participants.
Kasper: As I said earlier, the new system will allow 32 men or women to compete in a race. The week before the race, all of the racers who are interested in participating will put their names into a Tombola. A representative from the FIS will pick 32 racers to compete and also three alternates. The alternates will compete only if one of the original 32 racers is too injured or ill to compete. All athletes will have their names on only one piece of paper. They don't get extra chances because of their World Cup ranking. Therefore, every athlete has an equal chance of getting to race on a given weekend. During finals the top 15 ranked skiers in each discipline will compete along with the junior world champions, with only 15 getting points.
BB: So if previous World Cup overall winners like Lindsey Vonn, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Tina Maze, Carlo Janka, Aksel Lund Svindal, Benni Raich, Ivica Kostelic, or Marcel Hirscher never get chosen for a race, what happens?
Kasper: It's too bad for them. They have the same chance as anyone else of being chosen. We will not show any preference toward any racer, though if the paper with Christof Innerhofer's name seems to be missing from the Tombola, we will say that we can't understand how that could have happened.
BB: Now let's talk about where these races will take place. Will all of them take place in the middle of a city? What about traditional race venues like Soelden, Wengen, or Kitzbuehel?
Kasper: We will keep races in the traditional places, but they will be on the ramps instead of the pistes. There will also be races in Nairobi, Rio de Janeiro, Wellington, and New York City for the men. Women will race in Nairobi, Rio, Wellington, and Los Angeles. Finals will be held in Dubai for both men and women.
BB: Wait a minute! Most of these places are either south of the Equator, where it's summer during World Cup racing season, or they don't have a real winter. How do you expect to hold a ski race in Dubai when it isn't cold enough to snow?
Kasper: All of the non-traditional venues where we will hold races have indoor skiing halls. The air conditioning in the skiing halls will be on to keep things cold. The snow just has to last the two hours of the race. We have already checked to ensure that our ramps will fit in the indoor arenas.
BB: Why didn't the FIS choose places in cold weather cities? Wouldn't the people who live in colder climates tend to ski more than those in warm cities?
Kasper: A lot of people who live in the Los Angeles and New York City areas ski. There are ski resorts that are a short drive away from both of those cities. Many of the ski teams do their summer and fall training in South America or New Zealand. We are also trying to generate interest for skiing in Africa and Asia. Think about the populations of Africa and Asia. That is a lot of people who could take up skiing or attend a race. We need to bring the races to them and then they will want to ski themselves. Dubai is the sports capital of the world. Every sport has a major tournament there. World Cup skiing is the only sport that does not have a competition in Dubai. With Dubai hosting the World Cup finals, skiing can become part of the sporting culture there. If the 2017 finals are successful, Dubai may even become a regular stop on the World Cup tour.
BB: How do the athletes feel about racing on a ramp? Won't they feel shortchanged because they are going from a real piste to a much shorter ramp?
Kasper: All of the important people at the FIS have unanimously approved this new racing format. We heard from the athletes, but did not like what they had to say. The two most important priorities at the FIS are safety and always being right.
BB: What about the 2017 World Championships? Will they be on a ramp?
Kasper: Yes, of course. It will be the most exciting World Championships because the spectators will actually be able to see the full races.
BB: What about the 2018 Olympics?
Kasper:  The Olympic ski races will also be on ramps and not on the real pistes.
BB: How will Olympic and World Championship teams be decided? The current system allows up to four skiers per event per country.
Kasper: Up to four skiers per team on each event will be able to place their names in the Tombola. Five days before the race, FIS officials will draw 32 names. Those 32 skiers will be the ones who compete in the races.
BB: That seems rather unfair that a skier who has been training for many years for the Olympics or World Championships could be denied a chance to compete because his or her name was not drawn.
Kasper: Not really. Everyone who shows up for the Olympics or World Championships now has an equal chance to compete and win a medal. It won't be just those from the skiing powerhouse countries who will earn medals. Those who don't make it into the individual competitions can always compete in the team events.
BB: Don't you feel that the next few seasons will be sad because they will be the last ones run on real pistes?
Kasper: Our sport needs to change with the times. If we never changed, the athletes would still be racing on wooden skis and wearing sweaters and stretch pants instead of speed suits. Think of this change as our sport growing and evolving just like changes with ski technology and clothing. Anyway, TV ratings for City Events are even higher than for traditional races. While safety is of course a priority, TV ratings are also very important to the FIS. The team event at World Cup finals, which is run similarly to a City Event, gets even higher TV ratings than the men's downhill race. We need to satisfy our fans. If the fans want City Events, that is what the FIS will give them.
BB: I see. Herr Kasper, I want to thank you for your time. I'm sure that ski fans all over the world are looking forward to these changes. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters were hired because they are intrepid. We didn't hire them by pulling their names out of a hat.

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