Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Urgent Appeal for ACLs

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

It was revealed last weekend in Val d'Isere that US skiing superstar Lindsey Vonn has re-torn the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that she originally tore at the World Championships last February. It appears that either the doctor who performed her original surgery did not do a very good job, or Vonn came back too quickly and damaged her ACL. Either way, it seems like ACLs just don't last very long with her and she is now in need of another one before the 2014 Winter Olympics. The International Ski Federation (FIS) is putting out an urgent appeal to all of the racers in the World Cup to donate an ACL to Lindsey so that she will be able to compete in the Olympics with a healthy knee. We sent one of our intrepid reporters to Vail to try and talk with Lindsey. She was not available, but her physical therapist Patrick was willing to talk to us. Let's find out what Patrick has to say.

BB: When did you start asking the other World Cup skiers to donate their ACLs to Lindsey?
Patrick: Right after last weekend's downhill race in Val d'Isere. She did not finish the race because she felt like her knee did not hold up. We felt that since her ACL was gone, we needed to find a new one for her as soon as possible so that she is ready for the Olympics in Sochi.
BB: Have any of the other racers stepped up to give Lindsey one of their ACLs?
Patrick: Not yet. But I'm sure they will. After all, they gave Lindsey all of their medals from Schladming. (see this story)
BB: There is a big difference between a medal and an ACL. A person can live without a world championship or Olympic medal. It is very difficult to walk properly, let alone ski, when you are missing an ACL. 
Patrick: Neither of those statements is true. Medals are very important for establishing a legacy. The more medals that Lindsey has, the bigger her final legacy will be. She cannot live without her medals and crystal globes. As to being without an ACL, Lindsey even said, "Who needs an ACL anyway?"
BB: Exactly. Please tell our readers why the other World Cup racers should give Lindsey an ACL if she really thinks that she doesn't need one.
Patrick: As everyone knows, Lindsey said that athletes are only known through their records. Lindsey needs a healthy ACL to be able to establish her legacy and set the bar so high that nobody else in the future will be able to catch her.
BB: Are you implying that the other World Cup racers are not as important as Lindsey?
Patrick: Well everyone knows that's true! The World Cup just isn't the same without her.
BB: You are right. There is a lot less drama among the women this season and a lot more sportsmanship and friendly behavior. 
Patrick: The only reason the other women are winning this season is because Lindsey has hardly competed. When she did, she was not at her best because of her knee.
BB: Come on, the reason the other women won was because they were the best that day. 
Patrick: Lindsey does not just want to break Annemarie Moser-Proell's women's World Cup victory record. She wants to break Ingemar Stenmark's record of 86 wins. She also wants to win another Olympic downhill gold medal. Silver or bronze just isn't good enough for her.
BB: The other racers would also like to win medals in Sochi. 
Patrick: I'm sure they do. But the racers from the other countries are all interchangeable and nobody will remember them four years from now. But Lindsey wants to be remembered forever, and the others must do all they can to help ensure that she is.
BB: Getting back to convincing the others to donate an ACL...Are you asking just the women to donate one or the men too?
Patrick: Anyone who wants to donate an ACL is welcome to. It doesn't matter if donor ACLs come from a man or woman.
BB: If Lindsey does get a donor ACL from a man, would she be eligible to compete in men's races?
Patrick: If Lindsey does end up with a man's ACL, she will apply to the FIS to compete in men's races. After all, she will have a man's part inside of her.
BB: Uh...You might want to rephrase that last sentence. 
Patrick:  What I meant was if she has a male ACL in her knee, she should be able to compete in men's races.
BB: That's better. We don't want to give our readers the wrong impression of the Blickbild. Anyway, assuming that Lindsey gets a new ACL as a Christmas present, do you think she will be ready to compete in Sochi?
Patrick: Definitely! She was way ahead of schedule in her original rehab and was training to run a marathon within a month after her surgery last winter. Lindsey is a superhuman rehabber who only needs one week to prepare for the Olympics.
BB: What about ski racing fans or members of her fan club? Surely they want to see Lindsey succeed and would do anything for her to win a gold medal in Sochi.
Patrick: She will take an ACL from anyone, though she prefers one from a fellow racer because it would help to eliminate the competition for finishing on the top podium step. But I'm sure she will accept one from a member of her fan club. In fact, we would like to have as many donor ACLs as possible so that we can stockpile them.
BB: How many ACLs does a person need? There is  one per knee and people only have two knees.
Patrick: We want to have plenty in reserve so that when she tears her donated ACL from trying to come back too quickly, and requires another new one, she will have one all ready to go.
BB: I see.  She does seem to be rather hard on her ACLs.  It sounds like a good idea to have some in reserve. (short pause) Let's say that nobody in the World Cup wants to give up an ACL to Lindsey. Will any Mafia hit men be involved in getting the others to donate?
Patrick: I hope that it doesn't come down to calling Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli. It would be great if the other racers donated their ACLs because they realize that it's the right thing to do.
BB: Let's say that Vinnie's brand of persuasion has no effect. Would you resort to invading other countries to get donor ACLs?
Patrick: Tina Weirather is currently leading the overall standings, so if we had to invade a country to get an ACL, Liechtenstein would be the perfect place. It is small, so we would not require a large invasion force.
BB: We saw what happened last summer when a special military unit was formed to invade Slovenia. The invaders could not even find Slovenia and ended up in Moscow and then somewhere in Siberia. They still have not come back. Liechtenstein is much smaller than Slovenia. Would any invading force even be able to find Liechtenstein on a map?
Patrick: I hope that nobody has to invade Liechtenstein to get an ACL for Lindsey. It would be much harder to find than Slovenia.
BB: What is Lindsey doing in the meantime?
Patrick: I have her on a special regimen to strengthen the muscles around her knee. Even without an ACL, she will have the strongest legs in the World Cup. She will probably make her big comeback in Cortina in January.
BB: How many comebacks can one person make? 
Patrick: Every comeback that she makes will be even more spectacular. Just wait and see how she does in Cortina!
BB: We can't wait. Well Patrick, it looks like we are just about out of time. It was a very interesting interview with you, as always. I hope that you are successful in your quest for a new ACL for Lindsey. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We won't give up our ACLs without a fight!

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.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bode's Baby Lotto

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

When US ski racing star Bode Miller brought his son Samuel/Nathan/Matthew/Mark/Luke/John to Soelden for the races last October, the press couldn't get enough photos of his wife Morgan holding the little tyke. In Beaver Creek Morgan held up Bode's 5-year-old daughter Dacey for the cameras. With Dacey in school and Samuel/Nathan/Matthew/Mark/Luke/John back in his mother's custody in New York, it looks like there will be no more photo opportunities for Bode and Morgan to pose with a baby or small child until Sochi. But our intrepid research team found out that Bode and Morgan will have a baby or child at every race in the World Cup. Neither Bode nor Morgan was available to talk with us. But one of our intrepid reporters found one of Bode and Morgan's spokespeople, who we shall call Mary. Let's find out what Mary has to say.

BB: Bode recently lost custody of his infant son and his daughter is with her mother in San Diego. How can Bode and Morgan pose with the kids at European races when they don't have custody of them?
Mary: Everyone on the US ski team feels badly for Morgan because she had a miscarriage and she has the need to be a mother and have a baby in her arms. We are helping her to satisfy that need. This will help Morgan, which will help Bode to do well in his races.
BB: I see. What are you doing to help the Millers?
Mary: The people on the US ski team have put their heads together and came up with a fantastic idea. The International Ski Federation (FIS) and the various race venues are also on board with it. 
BB: Tell our readers about this idea.
Mary: It is very simple. Every person attending a World Cup ski race with a boy under one year old or a girl under age 6 will automatically have their names put into a special drawing. Before the race starts, one of the names will be drawn. That person's child will win the opportunity to spend the race with Morgan and be in a photo with both her and Bode.
BB:  Would the parents also get to pose with Bode and Morgan?
Mary: Hell no! Having the child's actual parents around would spoil the illusion. But Bode and Morgan will give the child's parents photo cards and their autographs as a thank you gesture. 
BB: Wouldn't Bode and Morgan feel that it's a bit awkward to pose for the cameras with a child that isn't theirs?
Mary: Morgan is already used to that. She has posed for photos with Bode's kids and neither of them are her biological children. 
BB: That is true. But wouldn't it be rather weird to pose with a different child at each race? 
Mary: Not really. They will be used to it after a couple of races. 
BB: Will the kids get to keep their given names?
Mary: No. The winning child will also have his or her name changed for the day. Children's names will be put into a drawing and the child will have the name that is drawn for race day. The names will be appropriate for the race venue. The children will have German names in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, French names in France, and Italian names in Italy. 
BB: Interesting. What if the parents object to their children being taken away from them to spend race day with strangers? People bring their kids to the races to have fun as a family.
Mary: The parents will have no say in the matter. If they don't want their kids to have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch a race with Morgan Miller and time afterward with Bode, they should hire a babysitter.
BB: Do the child's parents need to provide diapers, bottles, or snacks?
Mary: That would be a good idea. The parents would give Bode and Morgan whatever they were planning to bring for their baby or child for the race. 
BB: What if the child objects? Many young children cry when they have to sit on Santa's lap or when they see clowns. 
Mary: We are prepared for that. The child will have all of the candy that he or she can eat. Nothing calms a child faster than candy. We will also tell the child that he or she is going to be on TV. 
BB: So much for teaching kids not to take candy from strangers. (short pause) Let me see if I have this straight. A young child will be taken from its parents to spend a day with a strange woman and her husband, have his or her name changed, and be fed lots of candy. All the parents get is a photo card, an autograph, and a child with a belly ache from eating too much candy.
Mary: You got it! But you left out the part of the lasting memory of being with Bode and Morgan. 
BB: I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but a child that young won't remember posing with Bode and Morgan for the TV cameras. Maybe a 5-year-old will have a memory of it, but an infant won't. 
Mary: The child's parents will also get a souvenir photo that they can show their child to remind him or her of his or her special day with Bode and Morgan. It will be something that they can cherish as a family.
BB: When will this baby lotto start?
Mary: We are hoping to start at next weekend's races in Val Gardena. The children who are chosen will be so lucky and will have a wonderful story to tell their grandchildren.
BB: I'm sure they will. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview. It will be interesting to see how these drawings work out for both the Millers and the kids. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Ski racing fans, you have been warned about bringing your children to the races.

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, December 12, 2013

North American Race Summary (Belated)

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The first speed races of the season are now over and a lot has happened over the two weekends when the World Cup was in North America! Our intrepid reporters were in Beaver Creek and Lake Louise, bringing our readers all of the action from the North American speed races that the others didn't dare to print. Instead of our usual interview format, we will use news briefs. We will count down 8 key events from the two weekends of races in North America, starting with the least significant. Let's find out what really happened in Beaver Creek and Lake Louise over the last two weekends.

8. Greatest comeback ever. Yes it has really happened. The question the whole ski world has been asking was finally answered when Lindsey Vonn competed in Lake Louise. Vonn has officially made the greatest comeback ever by any athlete in any sport who ever had an injury. Hermann Maier and Daniel Albrecht’s comebacks paled in comparison to Vonn’s, especially in terms of daily press coverage. Every day in the news there was a story about Vonn, her superhuman rehabbing abilities, and what she had for dinner that night along with the requisite photos on her Facebook page.  Nobody knows who won the first women’s downhill race in Lake Louise.  But everyone, even people who never follow ski racing, knew that Vonn finished in 40th place. Does anyone really know or care who won that race? (For those few fans who really do care about ski racing, the answer is Maria Hoefl-Riesch).

7. The World Cup Zoo.  There is a reason the World Cup tour is called the White Circus. In Levi the winners of the slalom races won reindeer. Beaver Creek winners got an eagle. The winners in Lake Louise were rather disappointed to find that they just got cowboy hats and no pets. Lake Louise men’s downhill winner, Dominik Paris, said that he was crushed when he found out that he did not win a moose. Because of the popularity of podium shots of race winners with their new pets, the FIS is currently looking into giving animals to the winners of every race instead of prize money.

6. Real Men Climb Mountains. The second men’s downhill training session in Lake Louise was cancelled due to a power failure. Without power, the lifts were stuck. Old timers were amazed at how wimpy and coddled the current generation of ski racers is. Back when the old guys were racing, they had to hike up the hill to get to the starting line because there were no chair lifts. They also had to carry their equipment on their backs and bring their own food, water, medical supplies, and Swiss army knives.

5. Real Men Also Compete In Men's Races.  It looks like Swiss Ski made the correct decision letting the Swiss men’s speed team race against men instead of women. Patrick Kueng won the Beaver Creek Super-G. Beat Feuz also performed respectably in his first races back after being absent from the World Cup for a season. The only male Swiss racer who was upset by this decision was Carlo Janka, who really wanted to be the first skier to win a men’s and women’s overall globe. But judging from how he skied in Lake Louise and Beaver Creek, Carlo did an excellent job of channeling his disappointment.

4. More Alpine Gymnastics. Italy’s Sofia Goggia and Austrian Kathrin Zettel showed the world that Felix Neureuther is not the only racer who can promote the new sport of Alpine gymnastics. In the Beaver Creek downhill Sofia performed her patented spin move. Kathrin Zettel tried to perform a forward somersault as she started in the Beaver Creek giant slalom race. Sofia’s score was 8.3 and Kathrin’s was 8.4. It was tough for the judges to determine who was better because Sofia had a higher mark for artistic impression while Kathrin got a bonus for attempting a more difficult move. Kathrin received the higher score because she finished the race while Sofia had a DNF. By the way, Sofia tore her ACL in Lake Louise. We at the Blickbild wish her a full and speedy recovery.

3. Curses! Foiled Again! It looks like the Mongolian judge ordered the curse against Sweden to be lifted. Either that or German witch doctor Dr. Mabongo’s powers of cursing an entire nation’s ski team are waning. Jessica Lindell-Vikarby of Sweden won the Beaver Creek giant slalom race, edging out US wunderkind Mikaela Shiffrin. Jessica was a surprise winner. Since most ski fans know about the curse against Sweden for kidnapping Dr. Mabongo in Schladming last February, nobody in any “guess the podium” game anywhere picked Jessica to win. We shall find out in St. Moritz and Courchevel if the real abductor, Frida Hansdotter, is still under Dr. Mabongo's curse. Dr. Mabongo really needs to lay off the schnitzel and stick to his magic potions if he wants his curses to hold.

2. Larisa Rocks. Canada’s Larisa Yurkiw was dropped from the Canadian team last April because Alpine Canada discontinued its speed program. Instead of giving up, she got her own sponsors and formed Team Larisa. She had a 15th place finish in the Beaver Creek Super-G and was 7th in the first Lake Louise downhill. With her determination, Larisa should be able to fulfill her dream of competing at the Olympics in Sochi. Other racers are keeping a sharp eye on Larisa and her success. Our intrepid reporters often overheard conversations among the other World Cup women about how they want to go off and form their own teams. They are amazed that Larisa is succeeding without an army of trainers and big corporate sponsors. Larisa’s success is even more incredible because she does not have access to a witch doctor. If the Blickbild gave out an Intrepid Spirit Award, Larisa would easily win it. 

1    1. Short People Got No Reason To Lose.  Three of the smallest ladies in the World Cup had big success in North America. Swiss racer Lara Gut won 3 out of the 6 races and Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather had four podium finishes. Move over Naim (Pocket Hercules) Suleymanoglu and Mathieu Valbuena! There are two new petite power packs vying for the title of Mightiest Midget in the Sports World. Anna Fenninger of Austria, who is no giant herself, had five top-5 finishes in North America including 3 podium places. Back when Lara, Tina, and Anna were kids, they were teased about their size, or lack thereof. But anyone who dares to mention that they could help Snow White’s dwarf count increase from 7 to 10 would get their butts kicked on the ski slopes by them. Even with her partially torn ACL and knee brace, Amazon-like Lindsey Vonn was no match for the Mighty Midget Power Ski Force. Other women in the World Cup have been looking into surgery to have their leg bones shortened so that they can be smaller.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive report.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We only hire short reporters because intrepidness is an inverse square function of height.

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, December 10, 2013

DQ Blues

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

It seems like every weekend a ski racer gets disqualified for one reason or another. In Soelden it was Emi Hasegawa for an unspecified equipment violation. In Beaver Creek Elisabeth Goergl was disqualified because her boots were 0.12 mm too high. The latest casualty of the DQ craze was Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather, who was disqualified in Lake Louise for wearing arm protectors on the outside of her speed suit instead of underneath it. What is causing this sudden rash of disqualifications? Is there a conspiracy or is something else at work? Here to talk with one of our intrepid reporters is Bob, our inside contact at the International Ski Federation. Let’s find out what Bob has to say.

BB: Why are so many ski racers suddenly being disqualified?
Bob: There are not any more skiers being disqualified than in the past. It’s just that some of the racers who were recently disqualified were more famous. Nobody cares if a 37th place racer gets a DQ. But when  a more famous racer gets disqualified, it gets more publicity.
BB: So you are saying that it’s a matter of perception?
Bob: That’s right.
BB: Let’s talk about Lizz Goergl’s disqualification in Beaver Creek. How can someone really measure a racer’s boots to the nearest thousandth of a millimeter? You would think there would be a reasonable margin of error for boot height.
Bob: We took that into account. But even the smallest bit can make a very big difference. Look what happened to the probe that crashed into Mars several years ago.
BB: The Mars probe crashed because the NASA scientists failed to properly convert US to metric measurements and misplaced a decimal point. It had nothing to do with ski racing.
Bob: That’s where you’re wrong. That small conversion error by the NASA scientists was multiplied over the distance between Earth and Mars. Now you understand why it’s so important to keep track of decimal points when doing math.
BB: The length of a standard downhill course is much shorter than the distance between Earth and Mars. Even if Lizzie’s boots were even a full millimeter higher than the requirement, it does not seem like it would make a difference. Twelve hundredths of a millimeter seems a bit over the top.
Bob: But it does make a difference. At the FIS safety is very important to us. So is always being right, even if it means disqualifying racers for things that don’t make sense to the spectators.
BB: How could I forget! Now let’s talk about Tina Weirather being disqualified for wearing arm protectors over her speed suit instead of underneath. What is the difference?
Bob: She could gain an unfair advantage by doing that because arm protectors on the outside would make her more aerodynamic.
BB: But she obviously didn’t have an unfair advantage because Maria Hoefl-Riesch beat her.  If wearing her arm protectors on the outside gave her such a big advantage, she would have won the race by 10 seconds. But that did not happen.
Bob: Did you see the color of her arm protectors and the colors in her speed suit? They did not match at all!
BB: Are you saying that Tina was disqualified because the colors of her speed suit and arm protectors clashed?
Bob: Believe me, if you saw how they clashed, you would have done the same thing.
BB: Are you telling me that Tina was disqualified for having poor style? If her arm protector did match her speed suit, would her result have counted?
Bob: It is hard to answer that question. We may have found a different reason to disqualify her. 
BB: Lindsey Vonn wears a knee brace under her speed suit. There is a big difference between the size of her left and right knees when she is wearing it. Why hasn’t she been disqualified?
Bob: There is nothing in our Big Book of Rules that specifies that a racer’s knees must be exactly the same size.
BB: So even if Lindsey wore the brace over her speed suit instead of underneath it, she is perfectly legal to race because it’s okay for a athlete to have different-sized knees? Yet wearing an arm protector over a speed suit is a rules violation. Can you explain the difference?
Bob: Sure. At the FIS, we are always right.
BB: Yes we are aware of the FIS always being right. But I was hoping for a more detailed explanation.
Bob: OK, at the FIS safety is our biggest priority. But our other major priority is always being right even when everyone else thinks we are wrong.
BB: That’s not exactly the explanation I was looking for, but I understand the need to quote the party line. (slight pause) What other things have you seen do you think could also give the FIS grounds for a disqualification?
Bob: Maria Hoefl-Riesch’s hot pink goggles! They should be banned because they clash with her black, white, and lime green speed suit and purple Milka helmet. She is proof that Germans have no fashion sense. Speaking of fashion nightmares, Adam Zampa should be disqualified for his speed suit. Whoever designed it was obviously smoking something funny. The whole French team should also be disqualified for their hideously ugly speed suits.
BB: Is there anything else that could disqualify a skier besides poor fashion sense?
Bob: Yes. We have warned Ted Ligety about how light flashes off of his teeth when he smiles. If he is not careful he could be disqualified. It’s like a laser beam is coming off of his teeth that could blind the other racers!
BB: Ted should be allowed to smile when he wins a race. Other racers also smile when they win. A World Cup victory is a big deal and racers should be able to express their joy of winning.
Bob: We may have to pass a rule forbidding athletes who win races to smile with delight. Celebrating a victory makes the athletes who didn’t win feel bad about themselves. At the FIS we care about the athletes and their self-esteem. Disqualifying athletes who smile over their victories would also solve the problem of Ted and his shiny teeth.
BB: I’m sure it will. Well Bob, I want to thank you for your time and insight into why ski racers get disqualified. With all of the reasons for a disqualification, it’s a wonder that anyone makes it to the finish line without a full investigation. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters would never be disqualified from receiving awards because they are too intrepid.

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

CORRECTION:  Our reporters are the most intrepid in the business, but they are also human. It was not Lizz Goergl's boot that was 0.12 mm too long, but her skis. We apologize for the confusion this error may have caused our readers. Unlike the FIS, we are not always right even when we're wrong.