Friday, September 27, 2013

Martina, Not Marlies, Schild Has Retired

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
Confusion has been reigning in the ski world since Swiss racer and Olympic silver medalist Martina Schild announced her retirement last week. The others have written about Martina's retirement and it is old news. Yet journalists and fans are still asking why Marlies Schild retired when she was so close to Vreni Schneider's record for World Cup slalom wins. In order to set the record straight, we sent one of our intrepid reporters to Switzerland to talk with Martina and to give our readers our unique perspective on her retirement. Let's find out what Martina has to say.
BB: Do people often confuse you with Marlies Schild?
Schild: Yes. But I am Swiss and Marlies is Austrian. I did downhill, Super-G and giant slalom. Marlies is a slalom specialist who also does some GS. I just retired and Marlies is still competing. 
BB: Are you related to Marlies in any way?
Schild: No. Schild is a very common name. Perhaps we share an ancestor, but you have to go pretty far back to find one. If you go back far enough, we can find that you and I have a common ancestor.
BB: True. Do you carry a supply of Mariles' autograph cards for unsuspecting fans?
Schild: No, but I wish I thought to do that.
BB: Going back to a common ancestor...Our intrepid research team studied Schild family archives going back to the days of the Roman empire and we in fact found that you and Marlies are related.
Schild: Really?
BB: Yes. In 1076 Jakobus Schild of Zurich had twin sons, Bartholomeus and Claudius. Jakobus was a shield maker. At that time only one son could inherit his father's business. Since Bartholomeus was the older twin, he followed in his father's footsteps as a shield maker. Claudius was forced to move away. He fought in the First Crusade and then settled in Austria when he returned. All of the Schilds in Austria are descended from Claudius Schild.
Schild: That story seems rather farfetched! Maybe the Schilds in Austria are descended from Claudius. But I would imagine that there is more than one set of Schilds in Switzerland. How do you know that I am in fact descended from Jakobus and Bartholomeus and not from a different branch of Schilds in Switzerland?
BB: We have the best and most intrepid research team in the business! Our researchers had to spend countless hours in front of a computer screen as well as travel over the Alps with elephants to get their information.
Schild: Wait a minute! I can see spending time on the computer. But going over the Alps on elephants? The last person to do that was Hannibal.
BB: You got me. I made up the part about the elephants.
Schild: So how do I know that your story about Marlies Schild and me being descended from an 11th century Swiss shield maker is true?
BB: If historians and geneologists can trace the British royal family back to Alfred and Canute, they can certainly trace the Schild family.
Schild: Can you show me any proof that Marlies Schild and I are descended from Jakobus Schild and his sons?
BB: I happen to have the documentation here. (pulls out a stack of papers and hands it to Martina, who reads them).
Schild: Oh my goodness! It's true that Marlies Schild and I really are related to each other. I have been lying to the press and fans all these years when I said that we were not related.
BB: Onto another subject. People have confused you with your newly discovered relative Marlies since you both made your World Cup debuts. Have you ever thought about changing your name to help the fans know who was who?
Schild: No. I assumed that people could figure out we were different people because I raced in a Swiss speed suit and Marlies was in an Austrian one. We also did different disciplines. Anyway, why should I be the one to change my name? I'm the one whose ancestor is the older twin.
BB: You have a good point. Since you're descended from Bartholomeus, Jakobus Schild's older twin, Marlies should have changed her name.
Schild:  But it doesn't matter now because I have officially retired from ski racing.
BB: Did you know that your other long lost cousin Bernadette Schild changed her name to keep people from mixing her up with her older sister?
Schild: No. She was always Bernadette, at least since she has been in the World Cup.
BB: Bernadette's real name is Marliena. When she moved up to the World Cup she was told to either change her name to something that didn't sound like her older sister's or switch to a different team. It is a rule in Austria that the older sibling gets to keep the similar sounding name. Younger siblings must change their names or leave the team.
Schild: Are you saying that there cannot be two skiers with similar sounding names on the Austrian team?
BB: That is correct.
Schild: So how come both Steffi Moser and Steffi Koehle are both on the Austrian team? They are both named Steffi.
BB: Because they are not sisters. Anyway, imagine the irony if Cousin Marliena/Bernadette ended up on the Swiss team with you because of the rule that requires the younger sibling to leave if she refuses to change her name to something that sounds different than her older sister's? The descendant of the exiled Claudius Schild would have returned to her ancestral home after almost 1000 years.  
Schild: I think that would confuse the fans even more than Marlies and I do. Martina and Marliena sound almost identical. One of us would have had to change our names or switch teams.
BB: It would probably have been Bernadette because she is descended from the younger twin of Jakobus Schild while you are descended from the older twin. You would have priority.
Schild:  I'm glad that Marliena stayed in Austria and changed her name to Bernadette. Things are a lot simpler that way.
BB: Now that you know you have some new relatives, are you planning a family reunion?
Schild: I don't know yet. Right now I will take things one step at a time.
BB: Good idea. (slight pause)  Have you and Marlies ever switched speed suits to play a joke on the fans?
Schild: No. I don't think that would have worked out very well. We would have been found out quickly. If we were both speed or technical specialists, we might have done it to see if anyone noticed.
BB: You never even thought to switch speed suits with Marlies?
Schild: I thought about it, but Benni Raich makes sure that Marlies and her speed suits are well protected when she is at a race site. Let's just say that Benni knows a thing or two about setting booby traps.
BB: Well, Martina, it looks like we are out of time. I want to wish you success in your post-retirement endeavours, whatever they may be.
Schild: Thank you.
BB: And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Never give your kids similar-sounding names because medieval laws could come back to haunt 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.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

World Championship Team Competition Format to Change

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Before we begin this interview, we want to inform our readers that 2013 downhill world champion Marion Rolland is out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL. We will miss her this season and wish her a full recovery.

Our friends at the International Ski Federation (FIS) just can't leave well enough alone. In an ongoing effort to make our beloved sport even more confusing, the FIS decided to change the format of the team competition at the World Championships and World Cup finals starting in 2015. Instead of the traditional parallel slalom format, the teams will engage in a different sort of competition. Here to talk with one of our intrepid reporters about this change is FIS Women's Race Director Atle Skaardal. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Mr. Skaardal, please tell our readers about this exciting new change in the team competition format.
Skaardal: Instead of a side-by-side parallel slalom race, the skiers will do a team dance competition.
BB: Wait a minute! This is Alpine ski racing, not "Dancing With the Stars."
Skaardal: Yes, but "Dancing With the Stars" is incredibly popular. People can't seem to get enough of it. People also love the dance routines that the Norwegian men create during summer training. They get a lot of hits on YouTube. In an effort to get a bigger audience for ski racing, we need to find out what people like and give it to them.
BB: But the team competition at both the World Championships and World Cup finals always gets very high ratings. Why change?
Skaardal: Because we can get even higher ratings with a dance competition instead of a parallel slalom race. Our main priority at the FIS is safety. But another big priority is TV ratings. Think of the ratings we would get when Alpine racing is combined with "Dancing With the Stars." It will be unbeatable! The Football (soccer) World Cup final won't have such high ratings.
BB: I don't think that Alpine skiing will ever outdo the Football World Cup finals.
Skaardal: Our focus group in Austria thought that a dance competition for ski racers beat football every time.
BB: I see. (slight pause) So tell us how this competition would work.
Skaardal: Each team will consist of four competitors: 2 male and 2 female. They will compete in each round.
BB: How many rounds will there be?
Skaardal: Two. There will be one compulsory dance and one dance routine that each team can create. The compulsory dance will be about 1.5 minutes long and the routine that each team creates will be 3 to 4 minutes long.
BB: What sorts of compulsory dances will there be?
Skaardal: The standard dances: waltz, foxtrot, cha-cha, minuet, tango, and ballet. Before the season starts, the FIS will pick one out of those six dance types and accompanying music. There will be one compulsory dance routine that the teams will learn, in the chosen style of dance. The FIS will send dance instructors and videos to each participating team to teach the skiers the compulsory routines. The teams are responsible for creating their own optional routines. They will have the whole season to learn their routines.
BB: Do the optional routines that the teams create have to be in a classical dance style?
Skaardal: No. They can be any style to any piece of music. Jazz, modern, hip-hop, folk, ballet, square dancing, line dancing, or any other dance style can be used in the optional routine. This is the time for the teams to get creative.
BB: How will the skiers be dressed? It seems like high heels or ballet slippers would not work in the snow. Or would the competition be indoors?
Skaardal: Ski racing is an outdoor sport, so therefore the team dance competition will  be held outdoors. The athletes will wear their speed suits, boots, and helmets. They will also have bibs with their numbers on them, just like in a real race. If the Norwegian men can dance to "Beat It" in their racing gear, then anyone else can too.
BB: You said that one of the possible compulsory dances is a ballet. In ballet it is very important to point your toes and work en pointe. It's impossible to point your toes in ski boots.
Skaardal: Whoever designs the compulsory routines will take that into consideration.
BB: I understand. How will this competition be scored? Will there be an elimination round?
Skaardal: There will be no elimination rounds. Each team will perform their compulsory dance. After the compulsory round, each team will do their optional dance. The compulsory dance will count for one-third of the total score. The optional dance is worth two-thirds. A panel of international judges will score the routines. A perfect score would be 30 points: 10 for the compulsory dance and 20 for the optional.
BB: You said that you will have an international judging panel. Who will these judges be and how will the scoring work?
Skaardal: There will be six judges. The high and low scores will be thrown out and the middle four scores will be averaged. The judges will come from nations that are members of the FIS and will be chosen by lottery. Each judge will be from a different country to prevent bias. At first we will use professional dancing judges, who will also train people from the FIS on how to judge dancing. Once the FIS has enough judges trained, then we will use our own.
BB: Do you think that Norway will have an advantage because of its experience in choreographing dance routines?
Skaardal: I don't think so. Well, maybe in the optional round, but they also need to have a high score in the compulsory round.
BB: How do you think the fans will react to a dance competition instead of a parallel slalom race?
Skaardal: I think they will enjoy it because they can see both speed and technical skiers in this competition. The parallel slaloms are done mainly by technical skiers. A dance competition gives speed skiers the chance to be part of a team competition. In fact, speed skiers have been complaining about how they feel left out of a team competition because it is a technical race. Now they have their chance to earn a team medal.
BB: What about teams which have fewer than four members?
Skaardal: Two teams which have less than four members can combine into one team. For example, let's say that only two of the Japanese racers are interested in participating in the team competition. They can combine with athletes from another small team, like Slovakia, and be eligible. The only restriction is that combined teams have to be from countries that are not already participating in the team competition.
BB: Wouldn't it be hard for a combined team to practice its routines?
Skaardal: Yes. But it can be done.
BB: If a combined team were to win a medal, which country would get it?
Skaardal: Both of them.
BB: If a country has a large number of racers, like Austria, can it form two or more teams?
Skaardal: No. Just like at the World Championships or World Cup finals, there will only be one team per country.
BB: The parallel slalom format was easy for fans to understand because it was two skiers against each other and the clock. The team with the fastest skiers won. A judged competition is subjective and depends on the judges' preferences.
Skaardal: I understand that. But the concept of being the fastest is very outdated. Speed is overrated. If the FIS wants to keep its viewers, we must step into the 21st century. Those who are not as fast on the pistes also deserve a chance to win a medal.
BB: What will the skiers be judged on in each dance?
Skaardal: Everyone must do the same dance in the compulsory round. The skiers will be judged by how close they come to an ideal for that dance. Of course the judges will take into account that the skiers are wearing speed suits, helmets and boots. Compulsory routines also allow the judges to directly compare the skiers against each other.
BB: And what about the dance that each team creates?
Skaardal: The skiers will be judged on how well their dance moves fit the music or song, originality, and dance ability in general.
BB: Tell us about the music.
Skaardal: The compulsory routines will be performed to the same pieces of music for each dance. Let's say that the compulsory dance is a waltz. It will have one piece of music and prescribed steps and moves that everyone must perform in the same order. But in the optional round, the teams can choose any music they wish. It can be instrumental or vocal.
BB: How do the athletes feel about this new format? They are already so busy with training on snow and in the gym plus traveling from one location to the next. It would be hard for them to find time to practice two dance routines.
Skaardal: We didn't ask the athletes how they felt. I would imagine that countries with stronger speed teams would like it because they would actually have a chance of winning a team medal. But it doesn't really matter how the athletes feel. They have gotten used to every change that the FIS has made and lived to tell about it.
BB: Let's say in a few years "Dancing With the Stars" fades out. Will the FIS still keep the dance competiton or go back to a parallel slalom?
Skaardal: We will make that decision when the time comes. For now, the team competition will be a dancing competition.
BB: I'm sure that the FIS will come up with even more ways to keep ski racing exciting and following the popular trends. Mr. Skaardal, I want to thank you for your time. We are looking forward to the debut of the team dance competition at the 2015 World Championships. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our readers love us, whether or not we keep up with the current trends.

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, September 17, 2013

Relationship Advice From Benni and Marlies

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

It's true. Aksel Lund Svindal and Julia Mancuso have gone their separate ways and the ski world is in shock. This is normally a story that we would avoid like a nest of rattlesnakes because the others have already reported it. But the Blickbild has its own unique perspective on Aksel and Julia. Austrian racers Benjamin Raich and Marlies Schild were ski racing's "in couple" before Aksel and Julia took over that spot. Now that Aksel and Julia are no longer a pair, Benni and Marlies have resumed their rightful place. One of our intrepid reporters was able to talk to Benni and Marlies about their relationship and their opinion about what happened between Aksel and Julia. They also have advice on how to maintain a good relationship.  Let's find out what they have to say.

BB: Benni, you will be going for your 4th Olympics in Sochi and Marlies will be going for her 3rd. What are you looking forward to most in Sochi?
Raich: I would like to win a medal in what will probably be my last Olympics. If I don't win a medal, I want to go out knowing that I did my best.
Schild: I would of course like a medal in Sochi. But I will do my best and see what happens.
BB: You were Alpine skiing's power couple until Aksel and Julia got together. Then you became passe. But now you are the reigning power couple again. What is your secret?
Schild: We have always been there for each other. It is also easier for us than it was for Aksel and Julia because we live in the same country. Austria is a small country, so it is easy to see each other in our down time.
BB: How long have you been together?
Raich: People like to think that we have been together since dinosaurs roamed the earth. But it just seems that way.
Schild: What?!?
Raich: What I mean is I wish we could have been together since the days of the dinosaurs because I love Marlies so much.
BB: Good save. (short pause) Can you take a guess why Aksel and Julia broke up?
Schild: That's really their private business. They did what they felt was best for themselves.
BB: Our intrepid research team found out that Aksel constantly forgot to put the toilet seat down. 
Schild: Benni used to always leave the toilet seat up too. But after a while I realized that he's a man and has a biological need to leave it up. We worked out a good system for ourselves. On Tuesdays and Thursdays Benni can leave the seat up all he wants to. But on the other days he has to put it down.
BB: Do you think that Aksel and Julia would still be together if they followed that system?
Raich: Possibly. It took a little adjustment, especially when I'm traveling with the team and am used to leaving the seat up every day.
BB: Do you think that toilet paper should go in front of the roll or behind?
Raich: Definitely behind.
Schild: In front and over.
BB: Oh oh! I don't want to start an argument.
Raich: We have worked out a solution to how the toilet paper goes. On even numbered days we put the paper behind the roll and on odd numbered days it goes in front. It has even gotten to the point where I will switch the toilet paper around when I am in a hotel.
Schild: I do the same thing! The other ladies on the team think I'm a little bit crazy. But if it keeps Benni happy, I'll keep doing it.
BB: Do you think that Aksel and Julia would still be together if they switched the toilet paper?
Schild: I never heard anything from Julia about her toilet paper preferences or Aksel's. But it is possible that they would still be together if they switched the toilet paper around.
BB: Our intrepid research team also found out that Julia gave Aksel store-bought ojlmsfjaegger on his last birthday instead of making it herself. 
Raich: She didn't!
BB: Yes, it's true. 
Raich: No wonder they broke up. Marlies would make those things for me by herself and would never buy them in a store.
Schild: Well, I would never make them because they sound awful. Who in their right mind eats a concoction of reindeer parts, salmon, and chocolate?
BB: Norwegians. Ojlmsfjaegger are a beloved birthday treat in Norway. 
Raich: But if you were Norwegian, you would make them for me.
Schild: I suppose so. I always bake your birthday cakes from scratch and never use a mix.
BB: Do you think that is the real reason behind Aksel and Julia's breakup?
Raich: That must be it. In a way I can understand how that could cause a breakup. Marlies makes her Wiener Schnitzel different than how my mother makes it. My mother makes the world's best Wiener Schnitzel. I even asked Marlies to ask Mum for her schnitzel recipe, but Marlies wanted to carry on making it her own way.
Schild: Are you saying after all these years that you don't like my Wiener Schnitzel?
Raich: Not at all, sweetheart. Yours is delicious and I always enjoy it. I get my fix of Mum's schnitzel when we visit her. But I will always take you and your schnitzel over Mum and hers.
BB: Benni, you saved yourself again. (pause) When you feel that the time is right for having children, do you want them to grow up to be ski racers?
Schild: What a silly question! Of course we do. We are Austrian after all.
BB: Do you feel that your kids would feel more pressure than the average Austrian ski racer because their parents are two of the all-time greats? It would be hard to measure up to parents who have 24 Olympic and World Championship medals and 14 Crystal Globes between them. 
Schild: Our kids will be born with little ski boots on their feet and wearing Austrian speed suits.  I'm sure they will be great in their own right.
BB: Your kids could be on the same team as Hermann Maier's daughters if the timing was right.
Raich: That would be cool! The next generation of Maiers and Raichs or Schilds together on the Austrian team would be awesome.
BB: As a long-time couple, are there any final words of advice you can give to those who are starting out in a new relationship or marriage?
Schild: Yes. Realize that a man has certain biological urges and just has to leave the toilet seat up. If you let him have his special days where he can leave the seat up, everything will be fine.
Raich: If you have different preferences regarding how the toilet paper should be hung, find a good compromise.
Schild: Make your special man's birthday cakes from scratch and never from a mix. And don't give him those weird Norwegian reindeer organ things unless he is Norwegian. Make them by yourself and don't buy them in a store. You see what happened to Aksel and Julia when she bought them instead of making them.
Raich: Always choose your sweetheart's schnitzel over your mother's, even if you think that your mother's is better.
BB: That is great advice. I'm sure that if Aksel and Julia took it at the beginning of their relationship, things might have worked out differently for them. (short pause) I want to wish you both a healthy and successful season and good luck in Sochi.
Raich: Thank you.
Schild: Thank you.
BB: And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We never realized that toilet seats and paper could be relationship deal breakers.

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.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

World Cup Photography

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Before we begin our interview, we at the Blickbild want to wish Swedish racer Jens Byggmark a speedy and full recovery from the torn ACL that he incurred in training earlier this week. We will look forward to his comeback in the 2014/15 season. 

A lot of work goes into making a World Cup ski race enjoyable for the fans. There are those who prepare the courses and people who work, both paid and as volunteers, on race day as gate installers, gate judges, and course slippers. The photographers who take the pictures of the athletes that the fans see after the races also very industrious and intrepid, though of course not as intrepid as our reporters and research team. The Blickbild was privileged to talk with a certified World Cup photographer named Primoz. Let's find out what Primoz has to say about being a photographer for the FIS World Cup.

BB: Primoz, you are from Slovenia. I bet that you are relieved that the US invasion failed and you won't have to pay $1 million to Lindsey Vonn.
Primoz: Yes, I am very relieved. I am happy that Tina Maze is able to keep her globes, points, and records from last season. She is a national heroine and deserves her success.
BB: What does it take to be an official World Cup photographer besides technical knowledge of sports photography?
Primoz: First of all, you need to be very strong and know how to ski well. You have to ski down steep icy courses carrying 20 kilos (44 pounds for our US readers) of camera equipment.
BB: I assume you train in the off-season to prepare for carrying all of that equipment.
Primoz: Yes, I lift weights all year long to keep my strength.
BB: What else is a prerequisite to being a ski racing photographer?
Primoz: You either need a lot of warm clothing, or you must love being out in the cold. I often have to stand out in the snow all day. I'm setting up equipment, calibrating it, waiting for the racers, and then packing up my cameras after the race.
BB: Is there anything else an aspiring World Cup race photographer needs to know?
Primoz: Yes. You must know about Alpine skiing so that the cameras are placed in such a manner that they are out of the way of the racers but still get optimum lighting for great photos. You must also be flexible about changing conditions and light.
BB: When you talk about changing conditions, do you mean that the snow has changed to another shade of white?
Primoz: Well, the shadows on the snow change depending on the weather and if it's sunny or cloudy.
BB: That's not what I meant. Snow is obviously snow white and I imagine that's the ideal color for snow.
Primoz: Yes, snow is white.
BB: I don't think you understand the question. There are many shades of white. There's snow white, eggshell white, Navajo white, cream white, pearl white, bone white, ivory, and vanilla white just to name a few. Let's say at the start of a race the snow is snow white. But during the race it changes to pearl white. Do you have special filters to compensate for this color change?
Primoz: No. I don't require special filters except for fog and extremely bright or cloudy weather.
BB: Wouldn't the snow color changing from snow white to pearl white to eggshell white affect the quality of your photos?
Primoz: No. There really isn't a big enough difference for it to matter.
BB: What about when the snow looks blue, pink, green, yellow, or purple?
Primoz: As long my cameras are set up correctly for the lighting conditions, I will be able to get great photos. It doesn't matter what color the snow is.
BB: Do you have a personal favorite shade of white for snow?
Primoz: No. As long as the snow is white, everything is good.
BB: Some of the teams, notably Italy and Austria, have speed suits that are mostly white. What if the snow on race day is the same shade of white as those speed suits? Wouldn't the racers be invisible on film?
Primoz:  That has not been a problem for me so far. Anyway, the speed suits have enough color on them to make the racers visible. The racers also wear contrasting bibs and helmets, which make them easy to identify.
BB: Onto another subject. Your equipment is set up so that the athletes are breaking a photoelectric beam to trip the camera shutter. 
Primoz: That's right.
BB: When you set up your cameras, do you test that the beam is not too strong?
Primoz: The photoelectric eye is strong enough to work the camera shutter, but it is not detectable by the racers.
BB: Have you ever been worried that the beam would be too strong and injure a skier or even cut him in half?
Primoz: No. I'm working with a photoelectric cell, not a laser beam or space alien stun gun!
BB: Think of the TV ratings if the racers had to get down the course as quickly as possible while dodging laser beams emanating from your cameras and those of the other photographers.
Primoz:  I don't think that too many athletes would want to become pro racers if they got hit by laser beams, although Bode Miller would be the perfect person to dodge them with his wild style.
BB: Have any racers figured out where your cameras are and stopped to make funny faces in front of them?
Primoz: No. They are concentrating on winning the race or earning World Cup points.
BB: Nobody has stopped in front of the cameras to sing or do a little dance?
Primoz: No. The Norwegians do dance routines in their speed suits and boots, but only during summer or fall training.
BB: Has Tina Maze ever done a cartwheel in front of one of your race course cameras in the middle of a run?
Primoz: No! She only does them in the finish area when she wins a race. You are certainly asking some ridiculous questions. Anyway, I know I am doing my job properly when my cameras and I are invisible to the racers.
BB: My questions are not ridiculous! They are the questions that nobody else dares to ask. Our readers want to know what it is like be a real World Cup photographer. You never know who will be inspired to become one after reading this interview. 
Primoz: The World Cup could use more photographers. Many people want to do it but only a few meet all of the qualifications.
BB: Let me see if I have this correct. You lug around heavy camera equipment and have frostbitten body parts because you're in the snow all day.  Then you don't even seem to care about subtle variations in the whiteness of the snow. You don't even have laser beams or stun guns coming out of your cameras!  No wonder very few people are qualified to do your job!
Primoz: It really is very exciting. It's a job where I can work outside in the fresh air. I get to know the skiers on a personal level and am part of the race crew. And the less people who are qualified to do my job, the more work I have and the more money I earn.
BB: You have a point. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for your insight about being an official World Cup photographer. We are looking forward to seeing your race photos this coming season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Say, "Cheese" and  watch out for those stray laser beams.

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, September 9, 2013

News Briefs

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Our intrepid reporters and researchers are constantly striving to bring our readers the stories that the others don't dare to print. These stories often need to be updated. This issue of the Blickbild will update our readers on some of its previous stories. Instead of using our usual interview format, we will do our updates in the form of news briefs. Let's find out what is happening in World Cup Alpine Skiing.

Swiss Men to Race With Men. Last season we reported that the Swiss men's speed team was given authorization by the International Ski Federation (FIS) to compete in women's races this coming season. See this story. Their performances were so dismal last season, the only hope of salvaging any glory for the Swiss men was to have them race against women. The Swiss men's sole podium place was Carlo Janka's 3rd place finish in the Wengen super-combined race. However, a spokesman for Swiss Ski said that the men's speed team will in fact compete in men's races next season. He said that if the men competed against other men and lost to them, they could deal with it. But they would be embarrassed into having sex change operations to save face if they lost to women. Since Swiss Ski did not want to pay for gender reassignment surgery and name changes, the decision was made for the Swiss men to remain in men's races no matter how badly they perform. The only Swiss skier who was disappointed by this decision was Carlo Janka, who wanted to be the first racer in history to win both men's and women's overall Crystal Globes.

Ojlmsfjaegger Removed from List of Banned Substances. In a stunning reversal of its original decision, the FIS took ojlmsfjaegger off of its list of performance enhancing drugs. See this story.  Our  contact at the FIS, Bob, explained this turnabout. He said, "The two priorities of the FIS are safety and always being right even when we're wrong. In this case we analyzed the performances of Norwegian skiers and found that ojlmsfjaegger did not give them a competitive advantage. We were wrong, but now we're right again. Therefore we didn't violate one of our principles." Norwegian ski racers are again free to enjoy their traditional birthday treat. Oljmsfjaegger are cubes of pickled reindeer heart covered in a special smoked salmon and chocolate sauce.

Congo to Stop Issuing Witch Doctor Visas. Germany opened a real Pandora's Box when it hired Congolese witch doctor, Dr. Mabongo, to work with Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Lena Duerr last season. See this story. At the World Championships in February, it was revealed that France and Italy also acquired witch doctors to work with their teams. Sweden was thought to have a witch doctor in Schladming, but the Swedes actually kidnapped Dr. Mabongo. At the end of the season, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, and Croatia went to the Congo to get witch doctors for their teams. Native Congolese tribes started complaining that ski federations were stealing their witch doctors and robbing them of their cultural heritage. If every ski team got itself a witch doctor, then there would not be anymore left and their people would die. After hearing the appeal of the natives, the Congolese government decided that no more witch doctor visas would be issued. Ski teams without a witch doctor will have to deal with their athletes the old fashioned way.

Slovenian Invasion Force Disbanded. After the first group to invade Slovenia ended up in Siberia, it was decided to disband the rest of the invasion force. After Colonel Robert Thanus and his men ended up in Moscow's Lubyanka prison instead of in Ljubljana, they were sent to Siberia. See this story. All communication with Col. Thanus and his followers was lost after they boarded a train to Siberia. It is rumored that they are trying to find their way back to Moscow. Various sources have reportedly spotted invasion force members in Mongolia, Uzbekistan, China, North Korea, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, and New Zealand  as well as in Siberia. Lindsey Vonn's father, Alan Kildow, and her boyfriend, Tiger Woods, decided that it was best to send the rest of the invasion force home instead of deploying them to a place that nobody seemed to be able to find on a map. Kildow and Woods were the two main sponsors of the Slovenian invasion force. Nobody, not even our intrepid research team, knows what happened to the elephants. See this story.

Vinnie "The Shark" Rehired by Red Bull. Our favorite Mafia hit man and enforcer, Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli, was rehired by Red Bull. As our readers may recall, Razzovelli was hired to be Lindsey Vonn's bodyguard at the World Championships in Schladming last February. See this story. He felt guilty because he failed to protect her from injury and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane for treatment. After Razzovelli was not found to be at fault for Vonn's injury, he was released from the hospital. The Red Bull board of directors realized that Razzovelli was one of the best Mafia enforcers in the business and could always be used in some capacity on the World Cup. Red Bull is also a very forgiving firm. If Red Bull can hire an ex-East German doping doctor to run one of its training facilities in Austria, it could certainly rehire Razzovelli.

What's Up With Whitey? Whitey was the seeing eye dog that Marcel Hirscher used to help guide him on slalom and giant slalom courses before he had his eye surgery. See this story. Our readers who are animal lovers will be happy to know that Whitey has a good home with Marcel and his girlfriend. Says Marcel, "After all the help that Whitey gave me guiding me down ski courses, I could never abandon her. She will forever be loved by me and will still accompany me to races." It was previously reported that Whitey would become the Austrian team mascot and that still holds true.

Germany Forever and Always. Fritz Dopfer will compete for Germany this season. Even with the Sacher Torte and ice cream deal for Fritz being cancelled, the Austrians are still working on ways to get him back. See this story. But Fritz is staying in Germany and, as always, is proud to represent Germany on its ski team.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Let's hope that Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli doesn't feed Whitey too many ojlmsfjaegger.

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.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Summer Soelden Preview

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Even though it seems like an eternity to ski racing fans, the first race of the season in Soelden is just over a month away. While the others will give ski racing fans a Soelden preview, they will do so closer to October. The Blickbild is one of the first to discuss Soelden and the upcoming season. Our intrepid reporters found an American ski racing blogger who was willing to talk about Soelden and the 2013/14 season. During the winter this blogger is also a ski racing trainer, a skier, and motivational speaker. In the summer he plays the tuba and is available for all events including weddings and bar mitzvahs. Because the blogger wanted to remain anonymous, we will call him George N. Let's find out what George has to say. 

BB: George, let's start with the men. Who do you think will win in Soelden?
George: Ted Ligety. There's no question that Ted will win. He is Mr. Giant Slalom and has won multiple times in Soelden, including last year by a huge margin. 
BB: I agree that Ted will be the man to beat in Soelden. What is it about him that makes him so special?
George: When Ted is on skis, he is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Light also flashes off his teeth when he smiles. 
BB: Wait a minute! That's the classic description of Superman.
George: Ted is a Superman on skis, especially in GS. He should really be wearing a cape and tights instead of a speed suit. Ted can also get himself out of a locked bank vault using only a Swiss Army knife, duct tape, a bottle cap, and a piece of string. 
BB: I see that you watch McGyver reruns in your free time. 
George: Ted even resembles McGyver. I bet if he had a Swiss Army knife and duct tape during his races, he would beat the others by 10 minutes. 
BB: I see. Who do you see as the other men on the podium?
George: When Ted wins a race, who cares about who else is on the podium? He's the man! Maybe Tommy Ford has a chance of a podium place.
BB: What about Marcel Hirscher? He was third in Soelden last year and had a phenomenal season, winning his second overall title. I'm sure that he will do well in front of the home fans.
George: He's a foreigner. He's good in GS, but he's no Ted.
BB: Alexis Pinturault also has a good chance of being on the podium with Ted in Soelden. Two years ago he was second.
George: Second to Ted. Alexis is another foreigner and his last name is too hard to pronounce.
BB: Alexis came on very strong at the end of last season and even beat Ted in Garmisch.
George: That was a fluke because Ted made a mistake in the second run that allowed Alexis to win. 
BB: Manfred Moelgg was second to Ted last season in Soelden and was very strong overall in GS. Fritz Dopfer is also a dark horse favorite for a podium place in Soelden. 
George: Why do you keep mentioning all of those foreigners? 
BB: Because they are among the very best in the world. (pause) Now let's move on to the women. Who is your pick for Soelden?
George: Lindsey Vonn. Her comeback in Soelden will not just be the Comeback of the Year, it will be the Comeback of the Century. 
BB: Excuse me, but it's common knowledge that she will resume racing in the Stateside speed races and will skip Soelden. 
George: She will win in absentia. Your research team obviously is not very intrepid if they didn't figure that out. 
BB: How can someone win a race without being present? Normally you have to participate to win. And by the way, we have the most intrepid researchers in the business!
George: Whoever wins the race will give Lindsey her win and the 100 World Cup points that go along with it. 
BB: Just for fun, let's imagine that the FIS will only allow people who actually participated in the race to win and earn World Cup points. If Lindsey is not racing that day, who will win in Soelden?
George: Mikaela Shiffrin with Julia Mancuso second.
BB: Interesting choice. I would have chosen multiple Soelden winner, and last year's overall World Cup winner, Tina Maze. She had stiff competition for the GS globe last season and still won it. Viktoria Rebensburg, Anna Fenninger, and Tessa Worley also have a very good chance of winning, or at least being on the podium. Mikaela has really improved in GS, but I still see her as more of a dark horse. I also see Julia as a long shot to win. 
George: There you go again with those foreign skiers! You are from Boston, so I can't understand why you are so enamored with skiers from other countries. 
BB: Tina is the 2011 world champion in GS, Viktoria is the current Olympic champion in GS, Tessa is the current GS world champion, and Anna is among the very best in GS. All of them have a very good chance of a win or podium place in Soelden. 
George: Maybe so, but the only reason Tina got so many points and victories last season was because Lindsey missed about half the season due to belly aches and a knee injury.
BB: Right. And the moon landing really happened inside a Hollywood movie sound stage. 
George: It did. Nobody really landed on the moon. There is really a Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy too.
BB: Getting back to skiing and the real you think that the Swiss men will find their mojo next season or will they be forever relegated to skiing in women's races?
George: Who cares? 
BB: Who are your picks for the overall globes next season?
George: Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn. Bode will also win the downhill globe. Ted Ligety will win the others. Lindsey will win all five globes, with Mikaela Shiffrin being second in the slalom standings.
BB: That will be interesting because our intrepid research team learned that Lindsey will not compete in slalom races next season. 
George: Mikaela will give her slalom globe to Lindsey. Duh! Both Bode and Lindsey will also break Tina Maze's points record. 
BB: So you don't think that Marcel Hirscher will win 3 overall titles in a row or that Tina Maze will repeat her success this coming season?
George: No. 
BB: Do you feel that Benni Raich has a chance to make the 2014 Austrian Olympic team and be in his 4th Olympics?
George: Maybe. If the Austrian coaches think he's good enough, he'll make the team. But the guys of Team USA will put him in his place.
BB: What do you think of Lindsey Vonn working out at the Red Bull training center in Austria? As our readers know, it is run by a doctor who was an integral part of the East German doping program.
George: Lindsey has never tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. But someone should test Tina Maze for doping because she was so great last season. In fact, all of the foreign skiers who beat Lindsey and Ted last season should be given extra doping tests.
BB: So if I understand you correctly, Lindsey has been successful because of hard work and natural talent while Tina had a great season because she was doping?
George: Tina does come from one of those former Communist countries. Every athlete from Eastern Europe is a doper.
BB: Just like Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones, and Barry Bonds. (pause)  Who are some promising young skiers to watch next season?
George: Julia Ford and Abby Ghent. On the men's side Nick Daniels. They did not have good results in the World Cup last season, but they have learned from their experience and will surprise everyone. 
BB: I'm sure they will. It looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for your time and for this interview. You have certainly been a very interesting subject. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All the news that the others are too lazy to report. 

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, September 3, 2013

Hermann Maier Becomes Father of Twins

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Austrian legend Hermann Maier became the father of twin girls on 29 August. The babies’ mother, Maier’s girlfriend Carina, and both babies are doing fine. The others have already reported about the Herminator and his babies. But, as usual, our intrepid reporters gave this story a unique spin. The Blickbild was granted an interview with Hermann Maier about his new daughters. Let’s find out what he has to say.

BB: Congratulations on the birth of your new daughters.
Maier: Thank you.
BB: How much sleep are you getting?
Maier: You are very funny. I always knew that your reporters were not only intrepid, they also have a sense of humor.
BB: What is scarier to you, standing at the start house in Kitzbuehel or having to take care of new babies?
Maier: Definitely the babies. I knew what to expect when I raced on the Streif. But babies don’t come with an owner’s manual or a trainer to help coach you in how to take care of them or what to expect along the way.
BB: We know that in Austria children start skiing at an early age. When will your daughters start skiing?
Maier: This winter Carina and I will put them on skis and have them start walking around on them.
BB: But this winter they won’t even know how to sit up, let alone walk. How do you expect them to stand on skis?
Maier: Your researchers are not doing their jobs. Otherwise they would know that in Austria children are put on skis before they can walk.
BB:  The Blickbild doesn’t just have researchers, we have the most intrepid research team in the business! (pause) Please explain to our readers how your daughters will ski before they can walk.
Maier: Just like every other kid in Austria. We have already bought little ski boots that the girls will wear. In the winter we will have them fitted for their first skis. This winter Carina and I will hold them up and move their feet for them so that they can feel the motion of walking on skis. By the time that they are able to walk, we will take them up to one of the glaciers for formal training. At that time they will also get their first speed suits.
BB: So you want your daughters to follow in your footsteps and become ski racers?
Maier: Isn’t that what every parent in Austria wants for his or her children?
BB: You have a point. There are definitely a lot more famous Austrian skiers than football (soccer) players.
Maier: That’s right. Austrian footballers have won zero Olympic or World Championship medals. But Austrian skiers consistently win medals and bring glory to our country.
BB: Do you feel that your daughters will have extra pressure on them to succeed because their father is the Herminator?
Maier: Felix Neureuther and Tina Weirather have parents who were famous racers and they are very successful in their own rights. Felix has especially stepped out of his mother’s shadow and is being recognized for his own achievements and not just for being Rosi Mittermaier’s son. I think that if my daughters are successful ski racers, nobody will care who their father is.
BB: What will you do if one or both of your daughters decides to become something other than a ski racer?
Maier: How can you even think such a thing? If you continue to talk like that, this interview will be over.
BB: What was I thinking? On a different subject, will your girls find it funny that people think that Schladming police chief Hermann Mayer is you?
Maier: I’m sure they will. Hermann told you that I provide him with my photo cards for unwitting tourists. At the last world championships printers were working overtime to provide him with enough cards for all of the spectators in Schladming.
BB: Do people think that you are the man who found German witch doctor Dr. Mabongo after he was kidnapped by the Swedish team in Schladming?
Maier: Some people have come up to me and given me doggie treats for Herr Mayer’s dog Fido. I pass them along to Hermann. By the way, Hermann and I have become great friends. He gave the girls dolls that look like Dr. Mabongo, which were big sellers during the world championships. I hope that the dolls will bring the girls good luck on the pistes. He also arranged for my daughters to have lifetime ski passes in Schladming.
BB: I’m sure the girls will enjoy both the dolls and the ski passes. What other gifts have they received?
Maier: The Austrian men's ski team sent the twins several sets of pajamas that look like the current Austrian speed suit. The women's ski team sent them infant and toddler-sized skis and boots.
BB:  Well, Hermann, I want to thank you for this interview and congratulate you again on the birth of your daughters. We are looking forward to writing about their races in the future.
Maier: Thank you. I’m sure they will give you plenty to write about.
BB: And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Double your pleasure, double your fun. No, wait. That's the old Doublemint Gum slogan. 

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.