Wednesday, July 31, 2013

On Leave Until Early September

Due to a family emergency, our intrepid reporters and research team will be taking a break until early September. When they are back, they will continue to bring our readers the stories that the others don't dare to print.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

An Interview With the Boston Blickbild's Creator

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
We are constantly getting letters, e-mails, and tweets asking how the Blickbild was created. We also get inquiries about the demented soul or comic genius who comes up with our stories. Who is insane enough to keep our intrepid research team and reporters busy with the stories that nobody else dares to print? Well, dear readers, you are about to meet the Blickbild's creator. We are turning the tables a bit and our creator/editor/chief cook and bottle washer will be interviewed by a Columbia University journalism student named Alex, who is doing an internship with the Blickbild. Let's find out if Alex has the right stuff to become one of our intrepid reporters when he graduates.

Alex: Where do you live?
BB: Somewhere in Europe. The only hint I will give is that I don't live in Slovenia, though I can find it on a map and have been there before on holiday.
Alex: How did you come up with the name Boston Blickbild?
BB: Blick is a Swiss tabloid and Bild is a German one. Put them together and you have a super tabloid that puts the others to shame. Boston makes it sound American and is also a great alliteration.
Alex: Why a parody blog about World Cup Alpine skiing?
BB: There have been some joke articles about ski racing, but nobody has done a real Onion-style blog about it. There are also a lot of skiing blogs, but they are all very serious. There are so many things in World Cup skiing that call for some good satire, but nobody before has dared to publish them.
Alex: Can you give our readers some examples?
BB: Austrian skier Regina Mader got married before the start of last season and changed her name to Regina Sterz. Supposedly knowledgeable TV commentators had no idea who Regina Sterz was. They thought she was a new skier on the Austrian team. It was obvious that someone didn't have an intrepid research team like the Blickbild's. Here is Regina's story. The Fritz Dopfer story came about because Austrian commentators would remark that Fritz was "really one of ours" whenever he did well in a race. Also, whenever Fritz was asked if he was German or Austrian, he would answer that he was proud to represent Germany on its ski team. We decided to imagine what the Austrians would to do get Fritz back. Last season US skier Lindsey Vonn wanted to race against men, but was turned down. While she was awaiting the decision from the International Ski Federation, people were commenting that if she could race against men, then men who have poor results should be allowed to compete in women's races. The Swiss men's team had an abysmal 2012/13 season with only one podium finish and were the perfect candidates to race against women. Here is that story.
Alex: What are some of your influences?
BB: I grew up with MAD magazine and National Lampoon and always liked parodies and farces. I also like good social satires like South Park. Monty Python was also a big influence. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is one of the all-time funniest movies as is "Life of Brian."
Alex: Have any of the skiers seen the Blickbild stories, and if so, what are their reactions?
BB: The feedback has been mostly positive. The Austrian women's team liked the story about Regina, Fritz Dopfer's fans liked his story, and Marcel Hirscher liked the one about his eye surgery. Julia Mancuso's fans also liked the Valentine's Day interview with Julia and Aksel Lund Svindal. In fact, the interview with Julia and Aksel is our most popular story by far. There have been some negative comments, mainly from people who don't realize that the Blickbild is a parody. Or maybe they just don't have a sense of humor.
Alex: Several Blickbild stories make fun of the International Ski Federation's (FIS) rules.
BB: In the eyes of many fans, the FIS seems to come down hard on skiers who commit very minor rules violations like their boots being 0.00001 mm too big. Two seasons ago US racer Bode Miller had to start 46th in Garmisch for showing up two minutes late to the bib draw. Last season in Kitzbuehel there was miscommunication between Italian skier Christof Innerhofer and a volunteer course worker during a training run, which resulted in him starting 46th in that race. After Innerhofer's punishment, the Blickbild ran its version of rule changes for the coming season. This is the story. In addition, the FIS is always coming up with ways to change the sport. Our story about the new scoring system makes fun of how the FIS changes the rules without the fans understanding them. So does our story about World Cup race start order. People ask why ski racers have certain start numbers when their current rankings don't correspond to those numbers. The Blickbild decided to explain how start order was determined in its unique way.
Alex: One of the trademarks of the Blickbild is its intrepid reporters.
BB: That's right. Our research team is also the most intrepid in the business.
Alex: Do the Blickbild's reporters and researchers have to pass any tests to prove that they are intrepid?
BB: We don't make them climb mountains, hike through the desert, run marathons, or eat insect-covered ojlmsfjaegger. But they have to show us that they are willing to do whatever it takes to get a story.
Alex: Most of the Blickbild's regular readers know what ojlmsfjaegger are. But can you explain what they are for new readers?
BB: Ojlmsfjaegger are cubes of pickled reindeer heart covered in a special smoked salmon and chocolate sauce. They are a traditional Norwegian birthday treat.
Alex: Speaking of ojlmsfjaegger, the Blickbild has several recurring characters and themes. There is Dr. Mabongo the witch doctor from the Congo, Mafia hit man Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli, the invasion of Slovenia, and of course ojlmsfjaegger.
BB: That is what makes the Blickbild entertaining. There was a whole story line about Dr. Mabongo being kidnapped during the World Championships, the discovery of who abducted him, and the subsequent trial. Ski teams have trainers, nutritionists, massage therapists and sports psychologists. Why shouldn't they also have witch doctors? The Slovenia stories make fun of how Americans are so poor in geography. Back in 2003, when the US invaded Iraq, only 15% of Americans could even find Iraq on a map of the world. It made me wonder if the other 85% would have ended up invading the wrong country.
Alex: The Blickbild also has a different motto after each story. Why is that?
BB: To see if anyone notices.
Alex: You don't seem to be a big fan of Lindsey Vonn.
BB: I had a feeling that topic would come up. I admire the achievement of 59 World Cup wins. But I have never seen an athlete so obsessed with records and leaving a legacy. Most athletes are happy as long as they know that they have gone out and done their best. Winning an Olympic medal or a World Cup crystal globe is the dream of every racer. But Vonn has the attitude of "first place or nothing." A real sportsman is gracious in both victory and defeat and she is very "in your face" when she wins and comes up with excuses when she loses. You never hear her congratulate someone who beat her or say nice things about the other ladies in the World Cup. The best thing about Lindsey is that she and her family provide the Blickbild with some of its best material. Five out of our 10 most popular stories have to do with her.
Alex: Where are the Blickbild's readers from?
BB: Approximately 20% of our page views are from the USA. But we have readers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, South America, and just about every country in Europe. We are even starting to get visited by Russian, Chinese, and Pakistani spambots. Our Facebook page has a small following, mainly because most people read us on the blog page. But our Facebook likes and views come from all over Europe, the USA, Canada, and even Africa.
Alex: Who are your favorite racers?
BB: All of the World Cup ski racers are great athletes. What I admire is sportsmanship and a positive attitude. On the men's side Aksel Lund Svindal, Ted Ligety, Beat Feuz, and Marcel Hirscher are great athletes and good sports. They always have nice things to say about their opposition and are real class acts. I also really like young French racer Alexis Pinturault. If he stays healthy, he will be a great one. For the women I like Julia Mancuso, Viktoria Rebensburg, Tessa Worley, Marie-Michele Gagnon, Mikaela Shiffrin, and Daniela Merighetti. In addition I have a lot of respect for racers from very small ski nations like Ivica Kostelic, Tina Maze, Veronika Velez-Zuzulova, Chemmy Alcott and Naoki Yuasa.
Alex: Are there any racers who you haven't met yet who you would like to meet?
BB: Chemmy Alcott and Denise Karbon for the women. Chemmy because of her comeback from a broken leg and because she was a wonderful commentator on Eurosport during her injury layoff.  Denise really seems to enjoy what she is doing. Win or lose, Denise has a smile and appears to be a happy person in general. On the men's side I would like to meet retired racers Partrik Jaerbyn and Daniel Albrecht. Patrik pushed the boundaries of age and was competing at a world class level in his 40s. I admire Daniel Albrecht for coming back to the World Cup after his horrific injury. He never returned to his pre-injury level, but his comeback was still one of the most amazing in sports.
Alex: Which racers are the friendliest?
BB: The Canadians and Italians. Jan Hudec and Daniela Merighetti stand out as being especially friendly people.
Alex: Which young racers should we watch next season?
BB:  For the men: Henrik Kristofferson of Norway, Alexis Pinturault from France, Adam Zampa from Slovakia, Gino Caviezel of Switzerland, and Austrians Matthias Mayer, Manuel Feller, and Marcel Mathis. For the women: Wendy Holdener of Switzerland, Brittany Phelan from Canada, Bernadette Schild of Austria, Ilka Stuhec from Slovenia, Lotte Smithest Sejersted from Norway, and US wunderkind Mikaela Shiffrin.
Alex: Is there anything else you would like to tell the Blickbild's readers?
BB: Please like our Facebook page. We have extra stories on our Facebook page and also lots of pictures. We also have a small following on Twitter and you can follow us there.
Alex: It was interesting learning about what goes on in the mind of the Blickbild's creator. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: If you have no sense of humor, or don't understand parodies, go read something else.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine skiing, please like us on Facebook. We are also on Twitter as bostonblickbild.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lindsey Vonn Says Hell No to Remarriage

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
The tabloid press is buzzing after Lindsey Vonn's interview in Vogue magazine, in which she said that she would never get married again. We would normally avoid this story like we would a barrel of radioactive waste because so many others have already reported it. But, as usual, we have our unique perspective on Lindsey's refusal to marry. Lindsey was unavailable for an interview because she was busy following Tiger Woods to all of his golf tournaments and going to the Red Bull center in Thalgau for Dr. Pansold's special treatments. But one of our intrepid reporters was able to interview Lindsey's physical therapist Patrick. He was the person who we interviewed about Tiger cheating on Lindsey (see this story). Let's find out what Patrick has to say.

BB: Patrick, how did Lindsey come to confide in you?
Patrick: She has very few friends in the World Cup. Even her relationship with her best friend, German skier Maria Hoefl-Riesch, is only good when she has a better season than Maria. Because Maria finshed higher in the World Cup overall standings last season, she is no longer Lindsey's friend. But as a physical therapist I am with Lindsey several hours a day. Even though I am a man, she treats me like one of the girls.
BB: I see. Did she actually tell you that she never wanted to get married again?
Patrick: Yes. I can tell that Lindsey watched a lot of Dr. Phil after her knee surgery. When I asked her if she has plans to marry Tiger, she said, "Hell no!" I know that Dr. Phil tells people not just to say no but to say, "Hell no!" She said the same thing about marrying anyone else when I asked.
BB: How does Tiger feel about Lindsey not wanting to marry him?
Patrick: I don't think that he knew about this before the Vogue interview. But he has a lot of women who he can fall back on, so I don't see him being too upset over this announcement.
BB: Do you think that Lindsey would feel so negative about getting married again if either Roger Federer or Tim Tebow were available?
Patrick: That's a tough question. I don't think that Tim would ever marry her because divorce is against his religion. He would not marry someone who has been divorced, so he is out of the picture. He wants a woman who shares his religious beliefs and is sincere in her "Tebowing." But she might change her mind if Roger was single. The whole world knows that she went with Tiger because Roger is happily married and wouldn't leave his wife for her.
BB: Lindsey is only 28 now. What a person wants at 28 can be a lot different than what she wants at 38 or 48. Thirty years from now, what if she looks back and wishes that she got married again?
Patrick: She said that she never, ever wants to get married again and won't change her mind.
BB: Lindsey is serious about becoming a celebrity, right?
Patrick: Yes, she is very serious about becoming a celebrity.
BB: Then she must realize that part of being a celebrity is being married multiple times.
Patrick: I tried to tell her that, but she wouldn't listen. She says that she will never get married again.
BB: If Henry VIII stayed married to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, do you think he would be as famous as he is today?
Patrick: No. A big part of his fame is because he had six wives. (short pause) But Kim Kardashian and Kanye West aren't married and they are celebrities.
BB: Do you really think they will be remembered almost 500 years from now like Henry VIII is?
Patrick: Probably not, although they may be remembered for naming their baby North West.
BB: If Lindsey wants to be a proper celebrity, she must get married multiple times. If she really wants to be remembered for eternity, she needs to take a page out of King Henry's playbook and have some of her husbands imprisoned and executed.
Patrick: I'm not sure it's legal to imprison and execute your spouses anymore. Henry only got away with that because he was a king.
BB: And isn't Lindsey known as the "Speed Queen?" Therefore, she is royalty and can have her husbands executed. 
Patrick: I never thought of it that way. But how many men are going to want to marry Lindsey if they know that they are saying, "I do" to their death?
BB: She won't tell them before the wedding that they are going to be executed. But that would solve the problem of her not wanting to get married because she will know that the marriage won't be forever. Once she got tired of a husband,  she would have his head chopped off. 
Patrick: I'm not sure she would go for that. The problem is convincing her to get married in the first place.
BB: Now let's move on to another subject. In the Vogue interview, Lindsey said that most ski racers can keep going until they are 34, but they stop earlier because they want to settle down and have a family. Does Lindsey's refusal to marry mean that she is never going to retire?
Patrick: She said that her plan is to retire after the 2015 World Championships, but after that she will assess how she feels and then decide. Lindsey really wants to go after Ingemar Stenmark's record of 86 World Cup wins. She truly wants to beat Stenmark before she retires.
BB: If she never retires, she will set a new record for being the oldest World Cup competitor. 
Patrick: That would be great for her because she wants as many records as possible for her legacy.
BB: And what more long-lasting legacy is there than being the ski racer who holds the record for having the most husbands imprisoned and subsequently executed? Since none of the other racers have thought to have their husbands thrown in jail and then executed, Lindsey will always be remembered by future generations. 
Patrick: I never thought of it that way. Maybe I can use that argument to persuade her to get married again. She understands records and legacy. I'm sure she would not want to look back on her life and regret missing out on having a record number of her husbands executed. Records are records, no matter if they have to do with skiing or not.
BB: Right. Do you now have all of your marital issues straightened out?
Patrick: Yes. I am no longer doing therapy with Lindsey in her bedroom. When my wife found out that the man she was having an affair with was with six other women, she came back to me. We are now working things out.
BB: That's good to hear. Are you going to have your wife sent to prison or executed?
Patrick: No, I love my wife and want to stay married to her.
BB: Maybe your experience can also help convince Lindsey that marriage is really not so awful. Patrick: I'm not sure her future husbands will see it that way, especially when they find out what is in store for them.
BB: Who knows, she may actually stay with a future husband. (short pause) Patrick, I want to thank you for your time and for another interesting interview. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: When our reporters are not intrepid enough, we don't imprison and execute them. We just fire them.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine skiing, please like us on Facebook. We are also on Twitter as bostonblickbild.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Slovenian Invasion Force Ends Up in Former KGB Prison

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The first wave of Kildow's Army (KA), the special force made up solely of Lindsey Vonn's fans, was found wandering the halls and grounds of Moscow's infamous Lubyanka building. The Lubyanka was a notorious KGB prison in Soviet times. It is now the headquarters for the Russian Border Guards. KA's mission is to invade Slovenia to retaliate against Tina Maze's refusal to hand over her World Cup Crystal Globes and points to Vonn. It appears that KA's continuing problems with geography have caught up with them. When we heard the news about KA being in Moscow, we sent one of our intrepid reporters there to talk with some of its warriors. Unfortunately, KA was no longer in Moscow. But our reporter was able to talk with Russian Border Guard Major Ivan Sergeyevich Semyonov. Let's find out what Major Semyonov has to say.

BB: Comrade Major, how did Kildow's Army end up in the heart of Moscow in one of its most famous prison buildings?
Semyonov: We don't say "comrade" anymore. You can simply call me, "Major Semyonov" or "Ivan Sergeyevich."
BB: Excuse me. Major Semyonov, how did an invasion force of 25,000 end up in Moscow without anybody noticing?
Semyonov: They came in by plane, car, boat, train, hot air balloon, hang glider, and one person even flew in on homemade wings like Icarus. It is summer vacation season now and the number of tourists in Moscow normally increases significantly at this time of year.
BB: A large number of people in Moscow in unusual military uniforms didn't tip anyone off?
Semyonov: No. A lot of workers in Moscow wear uniforms that look like military uniforms. My Border Guards uniform is a good example.
BB: And nobody thought anything was suspicious when they saw people in uniforms walking around with elephants?
Semyonov: There were no elephants.
BB: Are you sure there were no elephants?
Semyonov: Yes. We have a zoo and many circuses in Moscow. People here know what elephants look like. Muscovites would report someone who was not wearing a zookeeper or circus trainer's uniform walking around the city with elephants.
BB: Oh dear! I wonder who is tending to the elephants that were supposed to be used to haul supplies for Kildow's Army. (pause) Anyway, could you please tell our readers what happened when Kildow's Army arrived at the Lubyanka building.
Semyonov: At first I thought it was a very large tour group. Even though the Lubyanka is no longer a prison, people still want to take tours of it. I even heard someone say, "We are here! This is it!"
BB: So you thought that this was just a large group of tourists who wanted to visit the Lubyanka?
Semyonov: That's right. I was going to direct the person who appeared to be the leader to the correct part of the building for prison tours. But he said that he was in the right place. He said that the building was surrounded and that he wanted $1 million from every man, woman, and child.
BB: What did you do?
Semyonov: I told him that he was at the Lubyanka, which was a former KGB prison. He insisted that he was in the capital of Slovenia, which everyone knows is Ljubljana. One of the people in his group obviously misread a map or got confused reading the names of both places.
BB: That doesn't surprise me at all that they would misread a map. The big surprise is that everyone made it here in one piece. What happened when you told the group leader that they were in a former KGB prison?
Semyonov: The leader, whose name was Mr. Thanus, said that they were in the right place after all. He turned to his group and said that someone named Tina Maze was now in prison for her crime of not giving a person named Lindsey Vonn all of her globes and points from last season. Mr. Thanus was speaking very quickly in English, and it was sometimes hard to understand exactly what he was saying. But his followers cheered at the part about Tina Maze being in prison.
BB: Do you know who Tina Maze and Lindsey Vonn are?
Semyonov: I never heard of Tina Maze. She must be an Enemy of the American State or a sinister reality TV actress.
BB: (showing Major Semyonov a photo of Tina Maze) This is Tina Maze. She is a professional skier from Slovenia who set a lot of records last season. Lindsey Vonn and her fans believe that Tina and her countrymen must pay for setting records which they feel belong to Lindsey. 
Semyonov: Tina is very beautiful! She does not look evil at all. But now I understand why this group wants to invade Slovenia. (short pause) Hey, isn't Lindsey Vonn Tiger Woods' latest girlfriend?
BB: Yes she is. In fact, she is more known in her home country for being Tiger's girlfriend and for not wanting to get married again than for her achievements on the ski slopes. (short pause) Now you have this big group whose leader believes that Slovenian ski racer Tina Maze is in a KGB prison. Did they then storm the building trying to get to her?
Semyonov: No. The leader named Thanus asked me to bring him and his group to see Tina Maze. I explained that Tina was not in our building because it is no longer being used as a prison. I told him again that he was in Russia at the Lubyanka building and not in the Slovenian capital. But he was very insistent that Tina was in a prison cell in our building. Then I had an idea.
BB: What was your idea?
Semyonov: In addition to tours of the Lubyanka's old prison cells, there is also a deluxe KGB Prisoner Experience tour. People taking this tour not only see the Lubyanka's cells, they take a special train to Siberia and visit a former labor camp. It shows people what those who ended up in the gulag went through as a way to learn about Soviet history. I thought that I could get rid of them by shipping them off to Siberia, so I told them that Tina Maze was on her way to a Siberian labor camp to pay for her crimes.
BB: Did Thanus believe it?
Semyonov: Yes. In fact he wanted to go to that labor camp right away to find Tina Maze. He wanted to bring her back and force her to demand $1 million from every man, woman, and child. At least that is what I understood. Then I played an even bigger trick on Mr. Thanus.
BB: Robert Thanus is a colonel in Kildow's Army. But tell our readers about the trick you played on him.
Semyonov: I asked for his map, then took it and wrote "Slovenia" in both Latin and Cyrillic characters in the area where the old labor camp that's featured in the tour is. Then I told him that that was where he needed to go and that I would arrange for his group to take a special train there. He was so excited, he could hardly speak. I got on my mobile phone with a friend who works at the Moscow Central Station. He got the trains prepared. While my friend was getting the trains ready, I let Kildow's Army wander through the Lubyanka's old prison cells.
BB: And they actually found their way to the Central Station by themselves?
Semyonov: I saw Colonel Thanus' map of Moscow and knew that he would never figure out how to get to the station on his own, so I led them.
BB: Good call. Otherwise they would still be wandering around your building thinking that they were in Ljubljana. Where is Kildow's Army now?
Semyonov: Still on the train. It takes almost 6 days for them to get to Khabarovsk, where they will change to a smaller line to get to the former labor camp. They should get to the camp in the next day or two. By the way, I got a commendation from my superiors for getting rid of some very strange people in a creative manner.
BB: Congratulations on the commendation. After this group, there will be five more waves of invaders. Are you planning to send them all to Siberia?
Semyonov: First they have to find the Lubyanka, right? But assuming they do, the Russian Border Guards will be ready for them. We will have the KGB Prisoner Experience Tour ready and waiting. There will be no delays in packing them off to Siberia.
BB: And what will you do when they return from Siberia and realize that they had been tricked?
Semyonov: They have to find their way back using their maps. Need I say more?
BB: You have a good point. Major Semyonov, I want to thank you for your time. This has been a very interesting interview. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Ljubljana (Lyoob-li-ya-na) and the Lubyanka (Loob-yan-ka) really are two different places.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine skiing, please like us on Facebook. We are also on Twitter as bostonblickbild.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Happy Half-Birthday

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The Boston Blickbild will be 6 months old this week. We would like some feedback from our readers. What have your favorite stories been so far? Also, what types of stories would you like to see in the future? 

You can reply here, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Another Proposed Change From the FIS

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
If there is one thing the International Ski Federation (FIS) does not do, it is sit still. In the interest of keeping the sport as confusing as possible for the fans, the FIS makes changes almost every season. This particular change is still in the discussion stage and the full details have not yet been released to the public. It is too late for it to take effect this season, but if all goes well, we shall be seeing an interesting new change sometime in the next few seasons. The others have not reported this exciting new change, so we at the Blickbild are the first to publish this story. Here to talk with our intrepid reporter is our contact at the FIS, who wishes to go by the name of Bob. Let's find out what Bob has to say.

BB: Bob, please tell our readers about this exciting proposed change to ski racing.
Bob: Everyone knows that football (that's soccer to our US readers) is the most popular sport in the world. Football clubs like Bayern Munich and Real Madrid don't just have German or Spanish players. They have players from all over the world. What keeps football exciting and popular is that there is an opportunity for the players to change clubs. We at the FIS are talking about doing the same thing with ski racing. Instead of an Austrian racer always skiing for Austria, he can ski for any country.
BB: That sounds rather confusing. Isn't the idea that a ski racer competes for his country?
Bob: Of course the FIS's main priority is safety. But one of our other priorities is making our sport as confusing, yet exciting, as possible for the fans. The concept of an athlete competing for his country is becoming outmoded. Anyway, FIS researchers found out that fans cheer for specific athletes and not necessarily for countries. If an athlete changes countries it will not affect how the fans feel about him.
BB: Can you tell us about the proposal that the FIS is working on?
Bob: Remember that it has not been finalized yet. Right after the season ends, all of the skiers essentially become free agents. All of the racers, plus the ones coming back from an injury and those moving up from the Europa and Nor-Am Cups, will be released from their national teams. Then they will be chosen by each team to compete, similar to the American football or basketball draft system.
BB: So in effect you are saying that all of the skiers will be in one giant pool?
Bob: Correct! Now the real challenge begins. After the season ends, we look at the Nations Cup standings. The top team will choose two skiers from its country. Last season Austria won the Nations Cup. Therefore, Austria would choose two Austrian skiers for its team. Then the second place team, in this case Italy, picks two Italian skiers. We start with all of the teams with Nations Cup points, then we let the others choose two skiers from their countries.
BB: Can the nations choose any two skiers, or must it be one male and one female?
Bob: The countries can choose whoever they want. For example, Germany can pick Felix Neureuther and Maria Hoefl-Riesch. Or it could go with Maria and Viktoria Rebensburg or Felix and Fritz Dopfer. The choice is up to the individual teams.
BB: Is this to ensure that each nation actually has its some of its own skiers?
Bob: Exactly!
BB: What if a country only has one racer in the World Cup?
Bob: Then the country will only choose that racer in the first round.
BB: So now every team has two racers. There will still be a lot of racers left over. Do they get chosen or do they have to go back down to the Europa or Nor-Am Cup circuits?
Bob: Every skier in the World Cup, plus those moving up from the Europa and Nor-Am Cups, will be chosen by somebody. After the first round of choosing skiers, it is time for the second round.
BB: What happens in the second round?
Bob: The top five teams in the Nations Cup get the first picks, but with a twist. The top team, Austria, will get to choose any five racers, male or female, who are left after the first round. Italy, which was the second place team last season, would then pick four racers. The third place team, which was the USA, will choose three racers. France and Germany, who were fourth and fifth respectively, will each take two racers. Everyone else, from sixth place Sweden all the way down to the teams without any points, will pick one racer for its team. They can pick any available athlete.
BB: In the second round, do the teams also pick athletes from their countries or can they choose others?
Bob: They can take whoever they want. For example, let's say that the USA chose Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety in the first round. In the second round the USA can either take three other US skiers, or they can take the best available athletes from any other country. In the second and subsequent rounds, teams are not restricted to taking their countrymen. That is only in the first round.
BB: Do the top teams also get extra racers in the third and subsequent rounds?
Bob: No. They only get extras in the second round.
BB: Isn't that an unfair advantage for the stronger teams? Won't it make them even stronger and the others even weaker?
Bob: Look at the major European football leagues. The German Bundesliga is basically Bayern Munich, BVB Dortmund, and the rest. The Spanish league is Real Madrid, Barcelona, and the others. In England the Premier League consists of the two Manchester teams and everyone else. This is obviously what fans want, so we are making ski racing more like fooball. Anyway, smaller teams like Liechtenstein,  the Netherlands, and Great Britain, get the chance for having more athletes than they did under the old system. That gives them more Nations Cup points and a higher place in the next season's draft. It all evens out. Also, skiers who have been cast aside by their national teams, like Larisa Yurkiw, will be guaranteed a chance to compete in the World Cup.
BB: Will all of the athletes in the pool be chosen?
Bob: Yes. That is the beauty of this system.
BB: What if all of the racers are chosen before a round is complete?
Bob: Then the racer draft stops and all of the teams are set.
BB: Suppose a racer is unhappy with the team that picked him or her? Let's imagine that Austria takes Lindsey Vonn. When Lindsey finds out that she is on the Austrian team, she gets depressed because her new teammates don't like her. Can she change teams?
Bob: No. She will either have to compete for Austria for the season or sit out. It is in her best interest to compete. At the end of the season she has a good chance of being taken by another team that could make her happier.
BB: What about the Olympics or World Championships?
Bob: Just like in the World Cup football tournament, the racers will all compete for their national teams at those events. Let's say that Fritz Dopfer competes for Croatia in World Cup races. He will compete for Germany in the Olympics and World Championships.
BB: What do the athletes think of the possibility of changing teams every season?
Bob: We didn't ask them. Every time the FIS wants to change something, the athletes don't seem to like it. We have stopped asking the athletes what they think about new ideas because they are always such Negative Nancys. At the FIS our biggest priority is safety. But our other priority is always being right, even when everyone else thinks we're wrong.
BB: I see. Do you know if or when the FIS will implement this new system?
Bob: There are a lot of details which still need to be worked out. I don't forsee it coming into effect until the 2014/15 season at the very earliest.
BB: Bob, I want to thank you for your time. I'm sure that ski racing fans all over the world are looking forward to the day when they will see this new system in effect. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

From Monsieur Understudy to A Silver Medal

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The others have reported about French skier Gauthier De Tessieres not making the team to Schladming, receiving a last-minute call to replace injured teammate Johan Clarey, and then winning a silver medal in the Super-G race. This story was even Number 4 in the Blickbild's ten most memorable moments of Schladming (see this story). But the others did not report two things that our intrepid research team found out: Schladming was not the first time that Gauthier experienced success as a last-minute replacement, and Gauthier made it to Schladming in time to win a silver medal in a rather unique way. We sent one of our intrepid reporters to France to talk to Gauthier. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Bonjour, Gauthier. Belated congratulations on your silver medal in Schladming.
De Tessieres: Thank you.
BB: Before we talk about Schladming, and the events leading up to it, our intrepid researchers found out that there was another time in your life that was eerily similar to your Schladming experience. We mentioned it in our story about Schladming's most memorable moments. But our readers want to know how it really happened.
De Tessieres: In my school there was a drama group that put on a big performance every year. When I was 15, I had an injury and could not compete as a junior racer that season. I thought I would audition for a role in the play, which was, "The Three Musketeers." I thought that learning lines and acting in a play would take my mind off of my injury.
BB: What happened when you auditioned?
De Tessieres: The teacher in charge of the theater group said that I was not a good enough actor to be in the play. I did not make it into the cast.
BB: But you obviously did not give up on your dream of acting.
De Tessieres: That is correct. The theater teacher told  me that I could be the person who cues the actors when they forget their lines. He was impressed when he saw that I could cue the actors without looking down at the script. Since the play had already been cast, I became the understudy for D'Artagnon's role. On opening night, the boy who was supposed to be D'Artagnon got sick with food poisoning and had to be taken to the hospital. I was told to get into the D'Artagnon costume because I would be performing that night.
BB: How did the performance go?
De Tessieres: Fantastic! I got the biggest applause during the curtain call at the end of the performance. Because I did so well on opening night, I was allowed to stay in the play. By the time the original D'Artagnon recovered, there was only one performance left and he became my understudy. After the play's run finished, there was a special award ceremony. I won a silver medal for being the second-best performer in the play.
BB: Who decided which performers were the best?
De Tessieres: After each performance, audience members were given ballots and told to choose who they felt were the top actors. I got the second highest number of votes. The top three actors got gold, silver, and bronze medals.
BB: You didn't poison your fellow actor so that you could be in the play instead of him?
De Tessieres: Of course not! His family went on a picnic the day before the first performance and left some cheese out in the sun too long. The whole family got sick and had to be hospitalized.
BB: That was a very interesting story. I'm sure in Schladming you felt like you were reliving your experience as an actor.
De Tessieres: Yes, but in Schladming I was not injured.
BB: You did not make the French world championship squad. What were you doing after you found out that you did not make the cut?
De Tessieres: I have always had a very healthy eating regimen because I am an elite athlete. But since I had some time off, I wanted to find out what it would be like to eat lots of junk food, drink beer and soda, and sit on the couch watching soap operas and reality TV shows. I went to the supermarket and bought a variety of chips, cookies, beer, and soda. Then I went home, laid down on the couch, turned on the TV, and started eating some chips. This was my life for about 5 days. Then the French head trainer called me and told me that I needed to come to Schladming.
BB: There are different versions going around about when you were called by the French team to go to Schladming. Some sources said that you were called 4 days before the Super-G race. Others, including the Blickbild, said that you were summoned the day before. What is the real story?
De Tessieres: The head trainer called me four days before the race and told me that I needed to get to Schladming because Johan was too injured to compete. He also called me the day before the race to ask why I was not in Schladming yet when the race was the next day.
BB: What were you doing between four days out and the day before the race? Did you decide that you were better suited to be a couch potato than a ski racer?
De Tessieres: (smiles) No, I prefer to be a ski racer. The electricians in Paris were on strike and I could not get to Schladming.
BB: Wait a minute! Your home is far away from Paris. What did striking Parisian electricians have to do with your inability to get to Schladming?
De Tessieres: You are not French. Otherwise you would know that if one group of people in any French city goes on strike, so does everyone else all over the country out of sympathy for the original strikers. The trains stopped running and all flights in and out of France were grounded.
BB: What about going by car?
De Tessieres: I thought about that. But my car was at the mechanic's because it needed the brakes serviced. My mechanic was on strike, so I could not get my car back. I also could not rent a car because all of the car rental agencies were on strike. All of the taxi drivers were on strike, so I could not hire a taxi. I was stuck.
BB: You obviously made it to Schladming in time for the Super-G race. How did you get there?
De Tessieres: On a flying carpet.
BB: A flying carpet?!?
De Tessieres: Yes, a magic flying carpet. While all of the French trainers were wondering why I was not in Schladming the day before a big race, Dr. Djibuku told them that he would fetch me. He pulled his magic carpet out of his backpack, picked me up, and flew me to Schladming. The rest is history.
BB: Let's back up a moment. I presume that Dr. Djibuku is the French team's witch doctor? And he's from the Congo, right?
De Tessieres: That is right. He is our team witch doctor and he's from the Congo.
BB: So how does a Congolese witch doctor know about flying carpets? Flying carpets are something out of the Middle East and the Arabian Nights, not from the Congo.
De Tessieres: Do we really need to worry about such details? The important thing is that Dr. Djibuku got me to Schladming in time to race and win a silver medal. Isn't that what this story is about?
BB: Yes, but you also know that the Blickbild prints the stories that nobody else dares to. Our readers would want to know how a Congolese witch doctor with no contact with the outside world knows about flying carpets.
De Tessieres: I suppose that's why Dr. Djibuku is a witch doctor and we're not. I would imagine that witch doctors from all parts of Africa gather together to share their secrets, potions, and spells. If you're really that interested, why don't you go to Africa and find out?  Can we get back to my silver medal now?
BB: Yes, of course. Do you feel that Dr. Djibuku was a big part of why you and David Poisson won medals in Schladming?
De Tessieres: If it weren't for Dr. Djibuku, I would be about 20 kilos heavier because I probably would still be on my couch eating chips and watching bad TV shows. I also would not be a world silver medalist. On the way to Schladming he gave me a fluorescent green drink that was supposed to erase the bad effects of the junk food. Whatever it was, it worked. I don't know how much influence Dr. Djibuku had with David. But both of us had the races of our lives in Schladming.
BB: Did Dr. Djibuku also work with Tessa Worley? She won a gold medal in Schladming.
De Tessieres: He normally just works with the men's team. But because the men and women were together for the championships, Tessa consulted with Dr. Djibuku. That consultation was just what she needed for winning gold for France.
BB: Do you know if the French women's team will get its own witch doctor, or will the men and women share Dr. Djibuku?
De Tessieres: I don't know. That is up to the trainers to figure out the best ways to get maximum performance from the athletes.
BB: Are you keeping the silver medal you won in Schladming with the one you won as D'Artagnon?
De Tessieres: Yes. They are both very special to me because those were the only times in my life that I won something. People say that lightning does not strike twice in the same place. But it did for me with my two silver medals.
BB: Indeed. Well, it looks like we are just about out of time. I want to wish you good luck this coming season and maybe you will win an Olympic silver medal to go with your other ones.
De Tessieres: Thank you. Maybe I will once again go from being an understudy to a silver medalist.
BB: And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

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