Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cortina and Kitzbuehel Wrap-Up

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Here is our wrap-up of last weekend's races in Cortina and Kitzbuehel. The others will talk about Maria Hoefl-Riesch earning 290 points in the four Cortina races or Alexis Pinturault's textbook perfect slalom run that helped him win the super-combined race in Kitzbuehel. But not us. Our intrepid reporters bring our readers the stories that the others don't dare to publish, or simply ignore. Instead of our usual interview format, we will present a numbered list. Let's find out the six things that happened last weekend that nobody else is reporting.

1. Point A To Point B. After turning in the third-fastest slalom run in Sunday's super-combined race, US skier Bode Miller was disqualified for straddling a gate. At first Miller protested that he did not straddle. But the eagle-eyed gate judges showed him proof of his straddle. Then Miller tried another defense. He argued that he learned in 7th grade math class that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. He had to straddle the gate to give himself the most direct route between the start and finish lines. He was only trying to win the race, or at least get on the podium. Race officials did not budge and pointed out that the Pythagorean Theorem has no place in ski racing. 

2. Don't Outsource Those Trophies. The Austrian firm that makes the trophies for the Kitzbuehel races with the Gams (mountain goat) on them went out of business. Race organizers found a Chinese firm that was willing to make the Kitzbuehel race trophies. Unfortunately, the quality of the new trophies was somewhat less than stellar. German slalom ace, and Friday's slalom winner, Felix Neureuther posted a photo of himself and his trophy. He pointed out that the trophy was nice at first, but the Gams came off. The first thing that the organizers did after the races were completed was write, "Note to Self. Don't have next year's trophies made in China."

3. Not Yet Ready For The Seniors' Home. Switzerland's Didier Defago won the Kitzbuehel Super-G. He is the oldest male competitor in the World Cup. Another "geriatric" racer, Elisabeth Goergl of Austria, won the first Cortina Super-G. Lizz has had a real resurgence this season with two wins so far. When asked about his secret formula for victory, Didier said that experience always wins in the end. At least he was willing to give us an answer. Lizz told our intrepid reporter that if she told him the secret of her success, she would have to kill him. 

4. Alien Invasion. The Swiss men's speed team has really improved its performances compared to last season's lone podium finish from Carlo Janka. Patrick Kueng has won two races and Didier Defago one. Janka has had several top-10 finishes this season. The ski world is starting to wonder about the Swiss men. Were they simply psyched up about not being relegated to competing in women's races this season? Did the team get a witch doctor? Those sound like simple answers that seem too obvious. Our intrepid researchers have evidence that the Swiss men's big improvement was that their bodies were either taken over by very fast space aliens or they are really Austrians wearing Swiss speed suits to fool the fans. Whoever the Swiss men really are, we are happy to see Switzerland returning to its usual ski racing glory. 

5. I Am Not A Crook. The winner of Saturday's Kitzbuehel classic downhill, Hannes Reichelt of Austria, is being portrayed as a black-hearted villain who stole third place finisher Bode Miller's rightful victory in that race. From the way that many ski racing fans and the media have been speaking, one would think that Hannes habitually steals candy from babies and robs banks in his spare time. Bode certainly thought so. He was giving Hannes death stares on the podium, at both the race and awards ceremony, and was probably wishing that his eyes could emit killer laser beams to eliminate both Hannes and second place finisher Aksel Lund Svindal. Actually, Hannes is a very nice guy who only stole one thing in his life. When he was 10 he misplaced his gloves and took his father's gloves without permission. Hannes's father punished him for that deed and he never stole anything again after that. He would certainly never deliberately steal another racer's victory. Postscript: Hannes had a severely herniated disk which required immediate surgery two days after winning the Hannenkahm downhill. He will miss the rest of the season and the Olympics. We wish him a full recovery and hope to see him back on the race courses next season.

6. A Two Sport Athlete.  Austrian racer Max Franz did a triple axel spin move during the slalom portion of the super-combined race. What made it truly awesome was that he was able to make all of the gates and finish the race in 26th place. He got very high marks from all of the sideline judges for it, with an average score of 9.6, which included a bonus for artistic impression. But Max had a secret. Because of the new Olympic team quotas, he was worried that he would not make the Austrian Olympic Alpine skiing team despite his recent good results that included a 3rd place finish in Sunday's Super-G. Max really wanted to compete in Sochi, so he also became a figure skater. He thought that if he didn't make it to the Olympics as a skier, he could be part of the Austrian figure skating team. During the slalom Max showed the Austrian crowd one of his figure skating moves to help the crowd forget that slalom is not his strongest discipline. Fortunately for ski racing fans, and figure skating fans too, Max will be on the Austrian ski team in Sochi. 

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive report. Our intrepid reporters will be in Sochi, reporting all of the action on and off the piste that the others don't dare to print. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters' bodies have not been taken over by space aliens. They are simply experienced and intrepid.

The Boston Blickbilds 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, January 27, 2014

Mafia Hit Man Going To Sochi

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

 Red Bull Mafia enforcer Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli will be going to Sochi in a couple of weeks. It came as a surprise to us and to the rest of the ski world. One of our intrepid reporters had a chance to talk to our favorite Mafia hit man at his home in New Jersey. Let's find out what Vinnie has to say.

BB: Vinnie, it was just announced that you will be going to Sochi. Will you be serving as somebody's bodyguard?
Vinnie: No. I will be competing at the Olympics.
BB: In what sport?
Vinnie: Alpine skiing.
BB: Alpine skiing?!?!?
Vinnie: That's right.
BB: Well knock me over with a feather! This is certainly a big surprise.
Vinnie: You must not be as intrepid as you look. I rightfully qualified for the Olympics.
BB: I am just as intrepid as my fellow Blickbild reporters! We have the most intrepid reporters in the business!
Vinnie: I will be in a speed suit along with all of the other Olympic skiers and will compete in the slalom and giant slalom events.
BB: Wait a minute! As of last February you did not know how to ski. In fact, you were committed to a psychiatric institution for the criminally insane because you felt that your inability to ski caused Lindsey Vonn's injury in Schladming.
Vinnie: Yes, but the doctors helped me to realize that it was not my fault. But I decided that if I wanted to be the best bodyguard I could possibly be to a World Cup racer, I should learn to ski. I started with a ski course at the hospital and went to Argentina in the summer to continue my lessons.
BB: You are evidently a very fast learner if you qualified for the Olympics less than a year after taking your first ski lessons. I don't see your name on any US team roster for Sochi.
Vinnie: That's because I'm not on the US ski team. I am on a special team made up solely of Mafia enforcers from all over the world.
BB: Are you and your fellow Mafiosos competing for Mali, Fiji, or another country that is not exactly a skiing hotbed?
Vinnie: No. We are competing for Freedonia.
BB: Freedonia isn't a real country! It was a fictional nation from the Marx Brothers movie "Duck Soup."
Vinnie: Don't tell the people from the International Ski Federation (FIS). They want as many countries as possible to be in the Olympics, so they accepted our application to compete in Sochi.
BB: How many Alpine skiers will be on the team from Freedonia?
Vinnie: Twenty.
BB: This is getting more and more absurd! How does Freedonia get more racers than top teams like France and Italy?
Vinnie: Let's just say that the people at the FIS treasure their kneecaps more than their team quotas.
BB: As do I. (short pause) How did you qualify for the Olympics? The FIS has a rather strict process for Olympic qualification.
Vinnie: Everyone on our team has worked hard and earned the right number of FIS points in races.
BB: What sorts of races did you do to qualify for Sochi?
Vinnie: My first race was the beginners' giant slalom race at my ski school. I won it easily. That victory made me hungry for more. My next race was at a company outing and I was second in my division. I realized that I had a talent, so I competed in more local races and did very well in them.
BB: That's great, but I wouldn't think that local races would count for FIS Olympic qualification.
Vinnie: You have a lot to learn, my friend. From what I read, just about anybody can get 140 FIS points or less. You just have to know how to do it. It had nothing to do with the horse's head that Gian-Franco Kasper found in his bed one morning.
BB: The question that the whole ski world has been asking is...Were you inspired by Vanessa Mae, the violinist who qualified to compete in Olympic Alpine skiing events for Thailand?
Vinnie: My machine gun case may look like a violin case, but I never heard of her. So the answer is no.
BB: What do you think your chances of winning a medal in Sochi will be?
Vinnie: I have as good a chance as anyone else to win a medal. Strange things happen to the athletes at every Olympics.
BB: Do you feel guilty that you and your fellow Freedonians being at the Olympics resulted in some of the world's best skiers having to watch the Sochi Olympics on TV?
Vinnie: No. Why should we?  The Freedonian team earned the right to be in Sochi, just like the other teams. It is not my fault that the FIS wants more countries to take part in the Olympics, just like it wasn't my fault that Lindsey Vonn injured her knee in Schladming.
BB: I see your point. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for your time and wish you and the other members of Team Freedonia good luck in Sochi. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild's team of intrepid researchers and reporters will be in Sochi bringing our readers all of the action from there.

 The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We don't have to put a horse's head in someone's bed to get a story.

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, January 23, 2014

Mid-Season Report Card

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The 2013/14 World Cup season has pased the halfway point. It has been a very exciting one so far with 3 women in contention for an overall globe and 2 men who are miles above the rest of the field. But the thing that our readers really want to know at the midpoint of the season is...Which witch doctor is better so far this season, Germany's Dr. Mabongo or France's Dr. Djibuku? Dr. Mabongo works primarily with the German women's team and Dr. Djibuku with the French men. Our intrepid research team crunched a lot of numbers to give our readers a head-to-head comparison of witch doctors. Instead of our usual interview format, we will do an analysis of five different categories to compare the two witch doctors and the data used to grade them. We are using a 10-point scale for grading, with 10 being the highest mark. Let's find out who the top witch doctor in the World Cup is.

Nation's Cup. As of 19 January 2014, the French men had 2116 points with 18 racers. That is an average of 117.56 points per skier. The German women had 1207 points from 13 racers, which works out to an average of 92.85 points per racer. The French men are second in the overall men's Nation's Cup standings, and first in the Nation's Cup giant slalom standings, while the German women are 4th overall and not leading in any discipline. Dr. Djibuku gets the higher rating in this category. Scores: Dr. Djibuku 8.6, Dr. Mabongo 6.7.

Individual Overall Standings. Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany is leading the women's overall and downhill standings this season. She is one of three women with top-5 finishes in all 5 disciplines this season. In addition, Maria is the only racer, male or female, to have podium finishes in 4 disciplines this season. Maria does not have a weak event. Her worst event is giant slalom, where she is ranked 12th. Germany has two women in the top 30 overall, Maria and Viktoria Rebensburg. France's Alexis Pinturault is 3rd in the men's overall standings and is first by far in the competition for the  Longines Rising Star Award. France has four men in the top 30 overall: Pinturault, Adrien Theaux, Thomas Fanara, and Jean-Baptiste Grange. Nobody on the French team has points in every discipline. This was a close one, but the edge here goes to Dr. Djibuku due to more racers in the top 30 overall. Scores: Dr. Djibuku 8.7, Dr. Mabongo 8.4.

Podium Finishes: The German women had 8 podium finishes: 7 from Maria Hoefl-Riesch and one from Viktoria Rebensburg. Two of Maria's podium finishes were victories. France had 8 podium finishes from three different men. Alexis Pinturault had 4 podium finishes and France's only win so far this season. Thomas Fanara and Adrien Theaux were each on the podium twice. Our intrepid analysts gave 10 points for a win and 5 points for podium finish. Using that system, Germany had 50 points and France 45.  But Dr. Djibuku still gets a slight edge due to France having three different men on the podium versus two for the German women. Scores: Dr. Djibuku 8.8,  Dr. Mabongo 8.7

Potential for being Kidnapped. Dr. Mabongo has the advantage here, since he was kidnapped by Sweden at the 2013 World Championships. Germany hasn't hired any bodyguards for its prized witch doctor, so someone else can theoretically snatch him. Dr. Djibuku has been a lot better at being unnoticed, although a Pygmy witch doctor is pretty easy to spot in Europe. Since Dr. Mabongo was the first witch doctor hired by a national ski federation, he will always be more well-known and therefore a bigger target for a potential abduction than Dr. Djibuku. Dr. Mabongo is also slightly smaller than Dr. Djibuku, which makes him easier to hide in a skier's speed suit. But with the French men being so good this year, especially the technical team, Dr. Djibuku's abduction potential has increased. Scores: Dr. Mabongo 9.8, Dr. Djibuku 8.3.

Magic, Voodoo, and Curses. It seems like there have been quite a lot of curses and counter-curses thrown this season. Sweden has been under a curse since last summer for stealing Dr. Mabongo from Germany. The Swedish racers were supposed to be winless this season. However, Jessica Lindell-Vikarby won the Beaver Creek giant slalom. The Swedish men have yet to win a race, though Andre Myhrer had a second place finish this season. It is still unknown whether the Mongolian judge actually lifted the curse order or if Jessica's victory was due to either Dr. Mabongo's power fading or a counter-curse from another witch doctor. Dr. Mabongo has worked a lot of magic with Maria Hoefl-Riesch and she has been on a recent hot streak. But what caused teammate Viktoria Rebensburg's illness? Was it caused by a bad potion that Dr. Mabongo gave her, or was she cursed by another witch doctor and Dr. Mabongo doesn't know the counter-curse? Some are also saying the last week's huge snowfall in Cortina and resulting race cancellations were caused by Dr. Mabongo in an attempt to keep Maria Hoefl-Riesch at the top of the overall standings. Dr. Djibuku discovered the American breakfast cereal Wheaties in Soelden and has been feeding them to the French men since then. According to sources at the French Ski Federation, Dr. Djibuku did not need to put any curses on opposing racers because the Wheaties have made the French men fast on their skis. Alexis Pinturault attributes his victory in the Wengen slalom to Dr. Djibuku and Les Wheaties. Our intrepid analysts have said that it is even between Drs. Mabongo and Djibuku. Both have scores of 8.5.

Final Anaylsis: It has been a very interesting and exciting first half of the World Cup racing season. Both witch doctors are very close, though Dr. Djibuku is slightly ahead of Dr. Mabongo. At this point, Dr. Djibuku is the reigning witch doctor in the World Cup. He has an average score of 8.58 in all five categories to Dr. Mabongo's average of 8.42. But in the world of voodoo, magic, curses, and counter-curses, anything can happen. We at the Blickbild wish all of the racers and their witch doctors a successful second half of the season.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive story.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We have the highest ratings of any World Cup Alpine skiing parody site.

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

Friday, January 17, 2014

Larisa Yurkiw Qualifies for Olympics

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Last weekend in Zauchensee, Canadian ski racer Larisa Yurkiw officially qualified for the Olympics with her 6th place finish in the downhill. Since being dropped by her federation (see this story),  Larisa went on to form Team Larisa, got her own sponsors, and trained independently. She has had two top-10 results so far and could have even more by the time this season ends. We would normally stay away from this story, since the others have already reported it. But Larisa succeeded despite the odds against her and the one thing that she and Team Larisa were missing. One of our intrepid reporters tried to talk with her in Cortina, where she will be racing this weekend, but she was unavailable. However, her main trainer, Kurt Mayr, talked to us. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Congratulations to Larisa on qualifying to the Olympics. She certainly exceeded everyone's expectations.
Mayr: Thank you. But that would be almost everyone's expectations. Larisa knew she could do it, as did everyone else involved with Team Larisa. She is the most intrepid person I know!
BB: Nobody is as intrepid as our reporters and research team, not even Larisa! She does come very close though. (slight pause) Alpine Canada set a high bar with its qualifying standards of at least two top-12 finishes. Did they purposely try and set Larisa up for failure?
Mayr: It sounds that way, but she worked hard and rose to the challenge. Everyone associated with Team Larisa is so proud of her.
BB: As they should be.
Mayr: Larisa's story is the stuff of legends. Athlete suffers devastating injury, gets dropped by her federation, trains independently, and makes the Olympic team. TV producers will eat it up!
BB: I'm sure they will. It's a perfect Olympics success story that TV producers and the fans would love. What makes Larisa's story even more special is what she had to do without.
Mayr: Are you talking about support from Alpine Canada?
BB: She had to go out on her own because she lacked the support from Alpine Canada. But that's not what I mean.
Mayr: What do you mean? We at Team Larisa gave her everything possible to help achieve her goals.
BB: No you didn't. What makes Larisa's success even more remarkable is that she accomplished everything without a witch doctor on her team. She had to succeed the old fashioned way.
Mayr: A lot of athletes don't have witch doctors on their teams.
BB: Sorry, but your way of thinking is so 2012. Most  ski teams now have a witch doctor.
Mayr: Austria doesn't have any team witch doctors. Neither does Switzerland.
BB: Austria is Austria and doesn't need a witch doctor. But the Swiss men could have used a witch doctor last season.
Mayr: The Swiss men needed something last season because they were awful!
BB: They were indeed. Germany was the first team to acquire a witch doctor and now Maria Hoefl-Riesch is leading the World Cup overall standings. Coincidence?
Mayr: No. Maria has always been great. She just needed to believe in herself more.
BB: If you feel that a team or racer doesn't need a witch doctor, then how do you explain Sweden kidnapping Germany's witch doctor, Dr. Mabongo, during the last world championships?
Mayr: Maybe the Swedes were bored and had nothing better to do at night in Schladming. It's not exactly a place that's known for wild nightlife.
BB: Are you saying that nobody on Team Larisa even tried to get a witch doctor for her?
Mayr: We didn't feel the need for one. Anyway, I read that the Congo stopped issuing witch doctor visas. Therefore, there was no point in trying to get one for Larisa.
BB: Weren't you worried about other teams' witch doctors trying to put a curse on Larisa because she is doing so well?
Mayr: No. She is so nice. Why would anyone want to put a curse on her?
BB: That is true about Larisa being very nice. But some of the other racers may be jealous of her success and would ask their witch doctors to curse her. Do you think she could have been on the podium in Lake Louise or Zauchensee if she had a witch doctor to give her that extra boost?
Mayr: Larisa will get on the podium without a personal witch doctor! Anyway, I have overheard a lot of the women in the World Cup saying that they admire how successful Larisa is without a witch doctor. They wish they could do what Larisa did.
BB: Have you thought about having a Mafia hit man on Team Larisa? Red Bull Mafia enforcer Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli is looking for a new assignment.
Mayr: Why would Larisa need a Mafia hit man?
BB: Vinnie is very good at eliminating the competition. With Vinnie by her side, Larisa will be on the podium in every race.
Mayr: Larisa doesn't need a witch doctor or Mafia hit man to be successful!! Anyway, wasn't Vinnie the bodyguard who couldn't ski and caused Lindsey Vonn to get injured in Schladming?
BB: It wasn't his fault. He was never told that skiing ability was part of being a bodyguard for a World Cup racer. Red Bull forgave him and gave him his job back.
Mayr: Thank you for the suggestion, but Team Larisa will pass on hiring Vinnie. Larisa will continue to succeed the old fashioned way, through hard work and determination.
BB: Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview. We at the Blickbild wish Larisa continued success this season and next month at the Olympics in Sochi. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters are naturally intrepid. They don't have to rely on witch doctors to succeed.

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Lindsey Vonn Adopts Three-Legged Dog

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Last weekend was full of newsworthy stories: Elisabeth Goergl's first World Cup win in two years, Marie-Michelle Gagnon's first World Cup win, Larisa Yurkiw qualifying for the Olympics after being dropped by her federation, Maria Hoefl-Riesch's two podium finishes, and Felix Neureuther being the first German since 1973 to win a giant slalom race. But those stories pale in comparison to the most non-newsworthy story of the week: Lindsey Vonn adopting a dog with a bad knee from an animal shelter. The others have reported this story almost to death, so we would normally avoid it like high voltage wires. But, as usual, we have our unique spin on the doggie adoption. One of our intrepid reporters was able to talk with Lindsey's sister Laura Kildow about it. Let's find out what she has to say.

BB: Laura, how is your blog coming along? Are you planning to have your adventures traveling with Lindsey made into a book?
Kildow: I stopped blogging after Lindsey was injured in Schladming. But I am hoping to resume once she has fully recovered and is ready to break the record for World Cup victories.
BB: Would that be Annemarie Moser-Proell's record of 62 or Ingemar Stenmark's 86 wins?
Kildow: Stenmark's of course. Sixty-two wins would be nothing for Lindsey. But no other woman would be able to get 86. She wants to set the bar so high that nobody else, man or woman, will ever catch her and her record will never be broken. But I hope that my adventures with the greatest ski racer of all time could be turned into a book or even a movie.
BB: Anything is possible with a good editor. (short pause) Let's talk about the dog that your sister recently adopted.
Kildow: He is named Leo and he's 9 months old.
BB: He also has a bad knee from an accident when he was a puppy.
Kildow: Who needs four legs anyway? We people only have two and we function fine.
BB: That is true. But while most dogs have four legs, Leo only has three good ones.
Kildow:  Right. Lindsey picked him out especially because he has a bad knee. They are made for each other.
BB: Lindsey plans on having surgery soon to repair the ACL that she re-tore last November. What will Leo do during that time?
Kildow: Tiger or I would take care of him. Anyway, after Lindsey recovers from her surgery, Leo will have his leg operated on.
BB: Will Dr. Sterrett operate on Leo after he does Lindsey's surgery?
Kildow: I don't think so. I'm pretty sure that a veterinarian will operate on him.
BB: When Leo recovers from his operation, will he be going to the gym with Lindsey?
Kildow: Of course! They will do their rehab exercises together and will be able to run a marathon together in no time at all.
BB: Will they go together to the special Red Bull training center near Salzburg?
Kildow: Probably. Lindsey is already training Leo to drink lots of Red Bull. I don't think that he will ever drink as much as she does though.
BB: Let's imagine for a moment that Leo is not a superhuman rehabber like Lindsey and his leg stays bad. Will he compete in the upcoming Canine Paralympics?
Kildow: I think that Lindsey will enter Leo in the Canine Paralympics only if he can get a gold medal. A silver or bronze medal isn't good enough for such an extraordinary dog. If it looks like he won't be able to win a gold medal, he can watch the Canine Paralympics at home with Lindsey.
BB: Lindsey is planning on making the comeback of the century next season and will be traveling all over Europe. What will she do with Leo?
Kildow: He will come with us in our special camper.
BB: Who will walk Leo and pick up his droppings when you're traveling all over Europe?
Kildow: Oh I don't believe that anyone thought about that. I will probably be the one to do it since Lindsey will be racing and training.
BB: Marcel Hirscher's former seeing eye dog Whitey is now the official Austrian team mascot. Will Leo become the US Ski Team's new mascot?
Kildow: Does that mean that the other members of the ski team will pick up his droppings?
BB: I don't know about that. You will have to talk to the others and ask them. Do you think that Leo and Whitey will play together at races?
Kildow: I don't think so. Leo is very special. Lindsey doesn't want him mixing with ordinary dogs.
BB: Whitey is rather special because she got to participate in men's ski races. Not every female dog can say that she was in men's ski races.
Kildow: That sounds very unfair that Whitey got to race against men when Lindsey isn't allowed to.
BB: Whitey didn't really race, she was Marcel's guide dog. There is a difference. 
Kildow: If Whitey got to be in men's races, maybe Leo can be in women's races.
BB: Is Leo Swiss?
Kildow: I don't think so.
BB: Then I don't think that the International Ski Federation will allow Leo to participate in women's races.
Kildow: The FIS is so unfair!
BB: Life can be cruel and unfair. Onto another subject. Bode Miller's wife gets on camera at races holding up a baby. Sometimes it's Bode's baby and other times it's an Austrian or Swiss Rent-a-Baby. Will someone hold Leo up for the TV cameras at races after Lindsey finishes her run?
Kildow: Of course! It will either be me or a lucky person from Lindsey's fan club. Leo is much cuter than a baby. Maybe we can even have a contest and the winner will get to be the person who holds Leo up for the camera. He will be a bigger star than Bode Miller's baby.
BB: Interesting idea. You can write about your experiences traveling with Lindsey and Leo. I'm sure ski racing fans would line up to read what you have to say. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview. It was interesting, as usual, talking to you. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: If you want a pet, please adopt one from an animal shelter.

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, January 7, 2014

New Rules for Olympic Qualification

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Just when you think you have heard everything from the International Ski Federation (FIS), it comes up with something else that makes you shake your head in wonder. The FIS has proposed new limits on the numbers of ski racers who will be able to participate in the Olympic Games in Sochi next month. There are also new requirements for qualification to the Olympics. Our intrepid reporters were sent to the FIS headquarters in Switzerland to get all of the details. Nobody in the higher echelons of the FIS was willing to talk with us. Our favorite contact at the FIS, who is known as Bob, talked with our intrepid reporter. Let's find out what Bob has to say.

BB: Bob, you always seem to have the time to talk with us. Don't you do any real work?
Bob: Yes. A big part of my job is dealing with the media. I enjoy talking with you because I know that the Blickbild has the most intrepid reporters in the business.
BB: We certainly do. (short pause) Can you tell us the new rules for Olympic qualification?
Bob: Of course. There are two requirements for each team. First of all, each team will be limited to a maximum of ten racers.
BB: Would that be 10 male and 10 female racers?
Bob: No, that is a total of 10 racers from each team. Countries can decide on the number of male and female racers as long as they have a maximum of ten.
BB: Will there still be a limit of four racers per country in each race?
Bob: Yes. That won't change.
BB: That doesn't make sense. Most racers are either speed or technical specialists. There are very few true all-around ski racers anymore. Teams need more than 10 racers to fill all of the available slots in the races. 
Bob: We had to come up with these limits. In the Olympics only 320 Alpine skiers will be allowed to compete. The International Olympic Committee wants representation from as many countries as possible. In order to let skiers from Togo and Fiji compete, we had to reduce the number of racers from the powerhouse countries like Austria and Switzerland.
BB: The Olympics are where the world's best compete. Spectators would rather see more skiers from Austria, who are the world's best, than a snowplower from a country in Africa that nobody can find on a map.
Bob: That is where you are wrong. The important thing is not winning, but taking part. If a racer from Upper Volta competes, that fulfills the Olympic ideal more than an Austrian medal sweep. It's not about the medals; it's about letting those from the little countries who have no chance at a medal feel good about themselves because they are Olympic athletes.
BB: Upper Volta no longer exists. It's now Burkina Faso.
Bob: Regardless, having skiers from non-powerhouse nations in the Olympics will generate interest in ski racing in those countries. One day Burkina Faso could supplant Austria as the world's best skiing country.
BB: That will be when pigs fly. Anyway, tell our readers about the second requirement for Olympic qualification.
Bob: The qualification period started last January and continues until the end of this month. Racers need to have had a podium finish in a World Cup race during that time for automatic qualification in that discipline. If there are still open spaces on each team, then those with top-5 or top-10 finishes will be allowed. Skiers from small nations must be ranked in the top 3 from their countries in order to compete at the Olympics. Racers must also have a valid result in at least 8 races in a discipline for that period.
BB: Is there an exception for super-combined races? There were only two last season and there will only be one more before the qualification period closes.
Bob: No exceptions.
BB: That basically means that there will not be a super-combined race at the Olympics, since nobody can fulfill the requirements. 
Bob:  Super-combined is the least interesting discipline and nobody would miss it.
BB: That's not true. A lot of people like super-combined because a racer needs both good speed and technical skills. The fans like to see the true all-arounders who can excel in both the downhill and slalom. 
Bob: There will still be downhill and slalom races at the Olympics. Because of the limits on the number of team members, a team can have a slalom specialist compete in a downhill race or vice versa.
BB: You said before that a podium finish in a World Cup race gives a skier automatic qualification to the Olympics. What if a country has more than 10 racers with podium finishes during the qualification period?
Bob: We will allow those racers to compete, but they must pick a different country to compete for. The country that they choose must have less than 10 racers on it.
BB: So if there are 12 Austrians who gained automatic qualification through podium finishes, then two must compete for another country?
Bob: That is correct. The two extra Austrians can compete for Mexico, Thailand, Malawi, or any other country with fewer than 10 racers.
BB: I see. What about racers who were injured for part of the qualification period and could not compete in the required number of races?
Bob: They should have had better timing with their injuries. They knew when the qualification period was and should have gotten injured at a different time.
BB: Bode Miller was injured last season and did not compete at all. Are you saying that he won't be able to defend his Olympic super-combined title because he was injured and could not compete in the required number of races?
Bob: Yes. But that is not really such a big deal because there won't be a super-combined race anyway. Nobody was able to meet the minimum race requirement for super-combined, so that is a moot point.
BB: Let me see if I have this right. I'll go through each point. Each country is allowed a maximum of 10 members on its team. 
Bob: Correct.
BB: Any racer with a podium finish in a World Cup race gets automatic Olympic qualification. If more than 10 racers from one country have automatic qualification through podium finishes, then the extras have to choose a different country to compete for.
Bob: Right.
BB: How will a country with extra racers decide who competes for a different one?
Bob: It's up to each country to decide how to handle the extra racers. The most fair ways seem to be: drawing straws, playing Rock, Paper, Scissors, or having a spelling competition.
BB: If a country does not have enough racers with World Cup podium finishes, then it can choose those with top-5 or top-10 results in World Cup races. Also, each racer needs results in at least 8 races in the qualification period. There also will not be a super-combined race at the Olympics because there were fewer than 8 races during the qualification period. 
Bob: Yes to all of those.
BB: There will be no exceptions for those who could not compete during the qualification period because of injuries. 
Bob: That's right. Don't forget that racers ranked in the top 3 in their countries are automatically eligible to compete in Sochi. We will see the very best ski racers from Tonga, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and Nicaragua at the Olympics. That will be an experience that the fans will never forget.
BB: Especially if those Tongans or Nicaraguans are really Austrians or Italians. Well it looks like we are out of time. Bob, I want to thank you for your time. You have been very informative, as usual. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

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