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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