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.

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