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.

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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. 

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