Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Boston Blickbild's Olympic Medals

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The real medals for the ten Alpine skiing races have been given out in Sochi. The others have done feature articles about the medalists, their spouses or boyfriends/girlfriends, pets, kindergarten teachers, and former friends. We have our own medals that we are giving out to very deserving racers that the others didn't dare to. Here are our Olympic medals. Let's find out what they are.

Most Knee Surgeries Among the Medalists:
Gold: Ivica Kostelic (Croatia)
Silver: Dominique Gisin (Switzerland)
Bronze: Jan Hudec (Canada)
Useless Trivia: Ivica has had 11 knee operations, Dominique 9, and Jan 7. Dominique has been described as having porcelain knees, while Hudec seems to be held together with chewing gum and bailing wire between his knees and back problems.

Most Noticeable Speed Suit:
Gold: Mexico
Silver: Finland
Bronze: Argentina
Useless Trivia: Hubertus von Hohenlohe's mariachi speed suit is a classic that will be remembered for many generations. Finland's suit looked like it was designed by someone trying to paint a blue and white zebra while taking hallucinogenic drugs. Argentina's polka-dotted suit was also very easy to spot.

Most Accomplished Musicians:
Gold: Laurenne Ross (USA)
Silver: Vanessa Mae (Thailand)
Bronze: Andre Myhrer (Sweden)
Useless Trivia: This was close, but Laurenne gets the gold because she plays more instruments than Vanessa. She plays the piano, cello, and guitar. Vanessa Mae plays the violin, but she is well-known and her music has been used for gymnastics floor routines and ice skating programs. Andre is a guitar player who performs at local clubs during world championships.

Best Quotes:
Gold: Ilka Stuhec (Slovenia)
Silver: Maria Hoefl-Reisch (Germany)
Bronze:  Kjetil Jansrud (Norway)
Useless Trivia: After her 10th place finish in the downhill, Ilka thanked the knee that she injured earlier this season and apologized to it for mistreating it over the past three weeks. Maria thought it was cool to get a silver medal in the Super-G because she never won one before. In addition to thanking his family, friends, trainers, therapists, and the Academy, Kjetil also gave thanks to the reindeer and salmon who gave their lives so he could eat ojlmsfjaegger.

Best Podium Celebration at Flower Ceremony:
Gold: Christof Innerhofer (Italy)
Silver: Tina Maze (Slovenia) and Dominique Gisin (Switzerland)
Bronze: Maria Hoefl-Riesch (Germany)
Useless Trivia: If you want to split hairs, there really should not be a bronze medalist. But since Tina and Dominique were co-gold medalists, they celebrated on the podium as one. Christof gets the gold for his headstand to somersault on the podium after winning the bronze medal in the super-combined race. He grew up in the Suedtirol, but wanted to be a gymnast and admired former Italian rings specialist Yuri Chechi. However, Christof had to stop doing gymnastics for two reasons: 1) he became too tall, and 2) his first name was not Russian enough. Tina and Dominique held hands as they mounted the top step of the podium after tying for gold in the dowhnill. Maria blew lots of kisses to the crowd after winning silver in the Super-G.

Most Tears:
Gold: Bode Miller (USA)
Silver: Kathrin Zettel (Austria)
Bronze: Nadia Fanchini (Italy)
Useless Trivia: Bode may not have won gold in an actual race in Sochi, but he wins this one by a landslide. After tying for 3rd in the Super-G, he could not stop crying. The others have reported that Bode is now in California, but he is really in Kazakhstan. US, Russian, and Kazakh officials thought it would be a wonderful goodwill gesture for Bode to use his tears to help replenish the water in the Aral Sea, which has been shrinking over the past 30 years. As of this report, he is still crying and the water level in the Aral Sea is slowly increasing. Kathrin Zettel had her share of tears after winning bronze in the women's slalom. She was ill with a sinus infection and was also thinking of her grandmother, who recently died. Fanchini, unfortunately, did not have tears of joy. After being in medal position after the first run of the giant slalom, she ended up in 4th place.

Best Artistry:
Gold: Max Franz (Austria)
Silver: Alexander Aamodt Kilde (Norway)
Bronze: Stefan Luitz (Germany)
Useless Trivia: Max Franz put his training as a figure skater (see this story)  to good use in the slalom part of the super-combined race with his one-ski work and spin move. He earned 12.6 points out a possible 10 from the judges. He earned 9.6 for technical merit and execution and a special 3 point bonus for artistic impression. Alexander is a limbo dancer in the off-season, which he says is great for improving his flexibility as a ski racer. He tried doing one of his limbo moves under a gate in the downhill race, but he was disqualified anyway. His score was 9.2. Stefan had a heartbreaking straddle of the last gate in the giant slalom race. It looked like he was trying to copy Alexander's move but backed out at the last second. He crossed the finish line leaning forward on one ski. His score was 8.7 because he was given a bonus for trying an original move to cover a beginner's mistake.

Best Witch Doctor:
Gold: Dr. Mabongo (Germany)
Silver: Grandma Jansrud (Norway)
Bronze: Ante Kostelic (Croatia) and Adam Zampa (Slovakia)
Useless Trivia: Dr. Mabongo is the clear winner. The German women had one gold medal, one silver, and one bronze. Maria Hoefl-Riesch was the only ski racer to defend a gold medal from 2010. Maria was also second in the Super-G. Viktoria Rebensburg earned bronze in the giant slalom with the fastest 2nd run. In addition, Dr. Mabongo's curse over Sweden was effective in Sochi. Sweden did not win a single Alpine skiing medal. Even though Grandma Jansrud is not really a witch doctor, her homemade ojlmsfjaegger helped power Kjetil Jansrud to a gold and a bronze medal. Norwegian wunderkind Henrik Kristoffersen also had some of Grandma Jansrud's ojlmsfjaegger before the second run of the slalom race and powered his way down the tricky Ante Kostelic course to earn a bronze medal. Ante Kostelic is also not a witch doctor, though many said that the courses that he set up are cursed because they are very tricky and require real strategy to finish them well. Kostelic has generated controversy with his course setting in Sochi, with trainers and athletes on other teams accusing him of being a witch doctor. Adam Zampa ties for the bronze with Kostelic because other racers believe that he must have some sort of magical powers, or be a witch doctor himself,  to have the best run on Kostelic's courses not once, but twice, in Sochi.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive report.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Unfortunately, there were no medals for most artistic witch doctor.

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, February 23, 2014

Olympic Overview Part 2

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Here is the second part of our Olympic wrap-up. The others will talk about Tina Maze's second gold medal and Ted Ligety being the first non-European man to win a giant slalom gold medal, so we won't. Instead, as usual, we will focus on the stories that the others don't dare to print. Let's find out what our intrepid reporters have been up to in Sochi.

The Four-Year Plan. Former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin had his Five Year Plans back in the glory days of the Soviet Union. But US racer Andrew Weibrecht has a special training plan that has him peak every 4 years for the Olympics. Andrew won bronze in the Super-G in 2010, then nobody heard from him again until he beat teammate Bode Miller for the Super-G silver medal in Sochi. Weibrecht's best result in the World Cup were two 10th place finishes. Our intrepid reporter asked one of the US trainers why Andrew is on a four-year training plan instead of peaking every year for the World Cup seaon. The trainer said that since nobody in the USA cares about ski racing, except for the racers' friends and family members, it is not worth it to train for World Cup races. The only thing that matters in the USA is the Olympics. Therefore, Andrew's training was structured so that it would enable him to win Olympic medals. Unfortunately, despite his two Olympic medals, Andrew will probably still remain unknown in the USA.

The Real Superhuman Rehabber. While Lindsey Vonn posted photos of herself rehabbing her original knee injury and bragging of being ahead of schedule, Kjetil Jansrud was quietly rehabbing  his own severe knee injury in his Norwegian hometown. Instead of wearing high heels, doing backflips, and training to run a marathon, Kjetil was eating his grandmother's ojlmsfjaegger and taking his time to come back to training and racing. Kjetil's patience paid off with a gold medal in the Super-G, bronze in the downhill and the 4th place tin medal in the super-combined. When Kjetil came back to racing after his injury, nobody heralded his comeback as the biggest in the history of ski racing. In fact, almost nobody noticed that he had resumed racing. Kjetil attributes his Olympic success to patience, lots of support, and the reindeer who gave their hearts for Grandma Jansrud's ojlmsfjaegger.

Swiss Redemption. The Swiss men have won one gold medal, which is one more medal than they got in Schladming last year. But one of the Swiss men is in the running for a medal for his acrobatics and promotion of the new sport of Alpine Slopestyle. Didier Defago did some nifty one ski work and a spin in the giant slalom race. He was able to carry on, but ended up skiing out later. Nevertheless, it looks like Swiss Ski was justified in letting the men stay in men's races this season versus having them compete against women.

These Medals Are Mine. At last year's World Championships all of the racers gave their medals to Lindsey Vonn, who injured herself in the Super-G race (see this story). But none of the men in Sochi competing in the slalom race were willing to give Bode Miller any medals that they earn. Bode really wanted to earn the gold medal in the slalom event but ended up leaving Sochi after hurting his knee in the giant slalom. Bode was hoping to earn the gold medal, even though his best finish in a slalom race this season was 26th place. He was counting on his fellow ski racers being as generous with him as they were with Lindsey. Some of the other racers talked to our intrepid reporter only if they could remain anonymous. Skier A said, "Bode already has a medal from Sochi and doesn't need another one." Skier B replied to our question this way: "Lindsey was a more worthy cause because belly aches and depression are much worse problems than bad vision. He should have had his eyes fixed when he had the chance." Skier C replied with, "If I win a gold medal in the slalom, he can have it if he gives me his wife. Since that probably won't happen, I'm keeping my medal."

King of the Ante Kostelic Slalom Courses. Ante Kostelic is known for setting difficult and tricky slalom courses. He was the course setter for the slalom leg of the men's super-combined race and also the second run of the men's slalom race. The second run of Saturday night's slalom was such a "splatfest," the artistry judges ran out of pencils and had to stop keeping score.  Mario Matt, Marcel Hirscher, and Henrik Kristoffersen may have won the medals, but Slovak racer Adam Zampa was the True Master of the Ante Kostelic Course. He had the fastest time in the slalom part of the super-combined, which moved him up from 21st place after the downhill to 5th. Just to show that his performance in the super-combi was not a fluke, he again gave a clinic in how to ski a Kostelic course and was the only skier to break 54 seconds. Adam was one of the very few racers in the second run who did not have to stop and ask the course workers for directions and moved up from 26th after the first run to 6th. Adam does not attribute his success to the copious quantities of Red Bull that he drinks, but rather to the fact that he trains slalom with the Kostelics. While almost all of the other skiers in the slalom and their fans and federations were complaining about Ante Kostelic and wanting a lifetime ban on him setting courses, Adam said that he can't wait until the next World Cup race where Ante sets the course.

Hail Freedonia. The whole ski world has been wondering how Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli and his team of Mafia enforcers from Freedonia did in Sochi (see this story). Unfortunately, Vinnie and his teammates never made it to the starting line. When they got off the plane in Sochi, they were mistakenly identified as some of Putin's special Russian Mafia enforcers who were on the security detail. They were put to work in the Olympic village to help Putin rid the Games of those who could influence the innocent and pure Russians to "engage in undesirable practices." By the time that Vinnie and his crew realized what was happening, it was too late to register for the ski races. Vinnie still reports that his Olympic experience was everything he hoped it would be and he wishes to be part of the team in Pyeongchang in 2018, either as a skier or part of the security staff.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive report. The Blickbild salutes the Alpine racers who competed in Sochi. They all deserve our respect, whether they won medals, finished last, or did not finish their races at all.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Never send a Mafia hit man to do a skier's job.

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, February 16, 2014

Athlete Profile: Max Franz

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Two seasons ago, young Austrian skier Max Franz caught the notice of many experts and ski racing fans. He was pegged as one to watch. Last year he did not achieve his potential because he got injured partway through the season. This season he has become more consistent and was one of two Austrian men who was guaranteed a place in the Olympic downhill race. Max is part of the new generation of Austrian speed skiers, which also includes downhill gold medalist Matthias Mayer and Otmar Striedinger. But there is something that the fans don't know about Max. Our intrepid research team found out that Max is not only a talented ski racer, he is an ace at another winter sport. Let's meet this multi-talented young racer and find out what he has to say (note: This interview was conducted before the Sochi Super-G race, where Max placed 6th.)

BB: Max, you finished 9th in the Sochi downhill but wanted to finish higher. What are your thoughts for the Super-G race?
Franz: I was disappointed about the downhill, but happy that my teammate Matthias Mayer won. That was cool to see him restore Austria's glorious skiing legacy. I hope to have a good performance in the Super-G. Maybe Matthias and I can both win medals.
BB: Did you have any worries about making the Olympic team?
Franz: Austria has such a strong and deep team. It is always difficult to choose four racers for each event. I was hoping to make the team as a ski racer. But I also had a Plan B for getting to the Olympics.
BB: Please tell our readers how you would have gone to the Olympics if you weren't part of the ski team.
Franz:  If I didn't make the Austrian ski team, I would have gone to Sochi as a figure skater.
BB: A figure skater?
Franz: That's right.
BB: How did you get into figure skating?
Franz: When I was starting out as a very young ski racer, one of my trainers suggested doing figure skating for summer training. My training group would go into the local ice skating hall and learn spins, jumps, and fancy footwork on the ice. I was the best one in my group and went on to take advanced training.
BB: Most ski teams have their young racers go outdoors or go into a gym for summer training so that they build strength and endurance.
Franz: Have you ever skated a 5-minute long program with lots of jumps? That takes a lot of endurance! The jumps require strength to pull them around. But most importantly, figure skating is great for improving balance, which is very important in ski racing.
BB: That is true.  Now I know where you got your elegant moves in the slalom legs of the combined races in both Kitzbuehel and Sochi. 
Franz: Yes, they are figure skating moves. I decided that if I had a problem in the slalom, I would throw one of my skating spins. My trainers told me that I should always fall with style.
BB: Which you did. In fact, you earned 12.6 out of a total of 10 points for your 360 and work on one ski in the Sochi super combined race. The judges were so impressed that they gave you a 3 point artistry bonus. If they gave out medals for artistic impression, you would easily have won a gold one. 
Franz: I was glad that my figure skating training helped. Otherwise I would have simply belly flopped or skidded out like some of the others.
BB: If you didn't make it to Sochi as a skier, would you have been good enough to go as a figure skater?
Franz: I think so. There are not so many figure skaters in Austria because everyone wants to be a skier. But since I was a young boy I dreamed about going to the Olympics any way I could. It is very difficult to make the Austrian ski team. But if I didn't make it as a ski racer, I had figure skating. There is much less competition in Austria for a place on the figure skating team.
BB: Our intrepid research team talked to one of your figure skating trainers and he told us about your one big weakness as a skater. Can you tell our readers about it?
Franz: Yes. When you land a jump like a triple toe loop or a double axel, you are supposed to land on one leg, have the other leg straight behind you, and spread your arms. Every time I land a jump, I land in a racing tuck and have my hands forward. My trainers tried to tell the judges that I was doing my own artistic variation on the jumps, but they didn't buy it.
BB: What do you wear when you compete in figure skating events?
Franz: My Austrian ski racing suit.
BB: Do you put sequins, rhinestones,  and feathers on it to make it more dazzling?
Franz: No. I want to be known as the skating ski racer. It helps me to stand out along with my unique way of landing jumps.
BB: Do you plan to compete in slalom races next season so that the fans can see more of your impressive skating moves?
Franz: No, I think I will stick to the speed disciplines and just do slalom in the combined events.
BB: Do you see yourself competing as a figure skater when you eventually retire from ski racing?
Franz: You never know. I would like to because I want to stay active in sports when I retire. I could also become the first Austrian to go to the Winter Olympics in two totally unrelated sports.
BB: That would be amazing if that happened. Well, Max, it looks like we are running out of time. I want to thank you for this interview and wish you luck for the rest of the World Cup season. 
Franz: Thank you.
BB: And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: If you really want to go to the Olympics, always have a backup plan

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, February 14, 2014

Olympic Overview Part 1

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The first week of the Sochi Olympics has been very exciting. The others will report about Switzerland winning two gold medals, a tie for gold in the women's downhill, the first Alpine skiing gold medal for Slovenia, and Christof Innerhofer earning two medals, so we will avoid those stories like live high voltage wires. Our intrepid reporters are in Sochi bringing our readers all of the news that the others don't dare to print. Instead of our usual interview format, we will use a list of events that the others didn't notice in Sochi. Let's find out what they are...
1. Most Noticeable Clothing. Germany gets the gold medal in this category. Their yellow, green, and blue striped jackets with red floral pants (for the women, the men wore white pants) set a new Olympic record for clashing colors and prints. They make the Norwegian curling uniforms look downright dull. The red floral pattern in the pants was also on the arms of the women's speed suits. We don't want to know what the designers at Bogner were taking when they created those outfits. Silver goes to the USA with their patchwork cardigans. First of all, who wears a cardigan in Russia in the winter? Secondly, they look like different children were assigned to knit a square and each one was sewn together to make a sweater. If any of the US athletes wants to go to Clown College after the Olympics, they have a ready-made outfit. Bronze goes to Argentina's polka-dotted ski suits. We didn't mention Hubertus von Hohenlohe's mariachi speed suit because he hasn't raced yet. Spoiler alert: It will be in next week's report.
2. I'd Like to Buy a Vowel. Some of the ski racers need to get together and exchange some vowels and consonants from their names. Nadia Jnglin-Kamer and Natko Zrncic-Dim could use some of  Ioan Valeriu Achiriloaie's extra vowels. In exchange, they could give Ioan Valeriu a consonant or two.
3. Did She or Didn't She? Julia Mancuso won a bronze medal in the super-combined race. Almost immediately, there was speculation whether she would bring her gold medal from Torino to the award ceremony. Her teammate, Lindsey Vonn, set a precedent in Vancouver after winning bronze in the Super-G. Vonn brought her gold medal from the downhill race to the Super-G award ceremony. For those who have been wondering, Julia left her Torino gold medal at home and happily accepted her bronze. But she did wear her famous tiara.
4. Longshots Rule. If you are gambling on who will win gold medals in Alpine skiing, your best bet is to pick a longshot to win. In three out of the four races run so far, only one favorite, Maria Hoefl-Reisch, won a gold medal. For those who are playing podium prediction games, your best bet is Icelandic racer Helga Maria Vilhajlmsdottir in the women's Super-G instead of Lara Gut, Tina Maze, or Maria Hoefl-Riesch.

5. Dr. Mabongo vs Dr. Djibuku. No Olympic analysis would be complete without a comparison of witch doctors. Germany's Dr. Mabongo had a better performance this week than France's witch doctor, Dr. Djibuku. It looks like Dr. Mabongo's job is secure, while Dr. Djibuku may be in danger of losing his.  Even though Maria Hoefl-Riesch finished 13th in the downhill, she won gold in the super-combined event and has been the only Olympian so far to defend a gold medal from Vancouver. The French men were not very good in either the downhill or super-combined. In fact, in the super-combined race Alexis Pinturault straddled a slalom gate, Thomas Mermillon-Blondin skied out with a fall, and Adrien Theaux finished 17th. Rumors are floating around Sochi that an opposing witch doctor put a curse on the French men. We will find out if Dr. Djibuku can counter that curse in the upcoming technical races.

6. The Most Decorated Olympian (in Training). If medals were given out for training races, Bode Miller would have 3 gold medals and a bronze. But they are not, and so far Bode is without a medal. He was 8th in the downhill and 6th in the super-combined. But wait! He has a good excuse for his performance in the real races. During the training runs it was sunny and the visibility was good. During the downhill and super-combined races the visibility was flat. Bode said that he has a hard time seeing in shade and flat visibility and does better when it is sunny because of his vision, or lack thereof. It turns out that Bode needs laser eye surgery. In fact, he now says that he should have had it over the summer but just couldn't find the time. It's hard to find time for eye surgery when your days consist of gym time, rehab, and leisure. In fact, earlier this season Bode asked Marcel Hirscher if he could borrow his seeing eye dog Whitey (see this story) to help guide him down race courses. Marcel refused to lend Whitey to Bode, saying that Whitey is now the Austrian team mascot and not available for hire.  He told Bode to get his own dog. Marcel also did not want Bode's wife to hold Whitey up for the cameras because she does not like to be picked up. Marcel thinks that Mrs. Miller should stick to local rent-a-babies.

7. Alpine Slopestyle, the New Olympic Sport. With slopestyle snowboarding being the latest Olympic sport, the Alpine skiers didn't want to be outdone. It started with Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde doing the limbo under a gate in the downhill race. Most fans don't know this, but Kilde is a limbo dancer in the off season. In a post-race interview, he told our intrepid reporter that he was simply practicing one of his moves to make the race more interesting. He was not allowed to continue because the rules say that even though he went under the gate, he still technically missed it. But he got a 9.2 from the Jamaican judge for his limbo move. Marie-Marchand Arvier had an artistic tumble into the safety nets during the women's downhill race. Even though her move was much more spectacular than Kilde's, the judges were not as impressed and gave her a score of 8.3. Two of the best slopestyle moves were performed during the men's super-combined race in the slalom run. The athletes figured if they could not handle Ante Kostelic's course setting, they may as well go out in a spectacular fashion. Andrew Weibrechts's belly flop netted an average score of 8.5 from all of the judges. Max Franz had the best move of the super-combined, which included a 360-degree spin and some one-footed skiing. Even though the US judge gave Max a stingy score of 8.4, that score was dropped and the other judges gave him an average score of 9.6. His total score was 12.6 out of 10--he got 3 bonus points for artistic impression.
And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive report.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters are not only intrepid, they have the best vision in the business.
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, February 6, 2014

Will Germany Fire Witch Doctor?

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Germany's witch doctor, Dr. Mabongo, has come under fire. Rumours are floating around that he will be let go for allowing two Swedish skiers to win races this season. Dr. Mabongo was supposed to have cursed Sweden with zero victories as a punishment for kidnapping him (see this story). One of our intrepid reporters was sent to Sochi to get the real story about Dr. Mabongo. The German women's technical trainer, Christian Schwaiger, talked to our reporter about the rumours surrounding Dr. Mabongo. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: The German Ski Association (DSV) hired Dr. Mabongo last season to work with both Lena Duerr and Maria Hoefl-Riesch. (see this story)
Schwaiger: That's right. During last year's World Championships he also worked with our men's team. After the World Championships Dr. Mabongo started working with the full German women's team.
BB: So you must have been satisfied with him at first?
Schwaiger: He wasn't perfect, but we wanted to give him some time to adjust from being in the darkest jungles of the Congo to Europe. We knew it would take some time for his magic to work and it did just in time for the World Championships in Schladming. The DSV was very happy when Maria Hoefl-Riesch won three medals in Schladming last year and Felix Neureuther won two. We attributed a lot of the German team's success in Schladming to Dr. Mabongo, especially Fritz Dopfer's spectacular run in the team competition that gave Germany a bronze medal.
BB: Sweden obviously heard about Dr. Mabongo's success with Germany because it was a Swedish skier who kidnapped him in Schladming.
Schwaiger: That's right. Germany was the first team to acquire a witch doctor and the other teams were watching us closely to see how having one would affect the racers. Sweden thought it would take the lazy way and steal our witch doctor instead of getting one of its own.
BB: Last season Lena Duerr won the Moscow City Event and Maria was second in the overall World Cup standings. This season Maria is leading the overall standings and has a good chance of winning the overall Crystal Globe. So why would you think of getting rid of Dr. Mabongo?
Schwaiger: Despite Maria's success this season, we felt like Dr. Mabongo's powers are starting to weaken.
BB: Can you give our readers an example?
Schwaiger: The first hint was in Soelden, when Maria failed to finish the giant slalom race. She made a basic technical error.
BB: But Viktoria Rebensburg finished 3rd in Soelden this seaaon, redeeming herself from last year's DNF.
Schwaiger: That is true. But Viktoria won in Soelden in 2010 and was second in 2011. This season Viktoria also had a bad case of bronchitis, which we think was caused by an opposing team's witch doctor putting a curse on her. When Dr. Mabongo was in his prime, he would have easily been able to counteract that curse.
BB: There were rumours going around Kranjska Gora that Dr. Mabongo created the bad weather with one of his spells in order to keep Maria in the overall World Cup lead.
Schwaiger: That is gossip that the tabloids made up to make him look good. From what I have seen from Dr. Mabongo and the other witch doctors, none of them can control the weather.
BB: I see. (short pause) Dr. Mabongo is in a tight race with France's Dr. Djibuku for best witch doctor this season. He can't be that bad.
Schwaiger: Dr. Mabongo let two Swedish skiers win races this year, which means that he is losing his power to fully curse other racers. It was bad enough that Jessica Lindell-Vikarby won the Beaver Creek GS race. But last weekend Frida Hansdotter got her first World Cup win in Kranjska Gora. As everyone knows, Frida was the one who kidnapped Dr. Mabongo in Schladming. Frida not only won that race, the German woman had a dismal performance. That was practically unforgiveable!
BB: I can understand how the DSV must have felt after Kranjska Gora. Did anyone confront Dr. Mabongo and ask him how he could have allowed Frida to win the race?
Schwaiger: One of the other trainers talked to Dr. Mabongo. He told the trainer that he thought that Frida was so sad when she cried in court about not winning a race. It broke his heart to see such a pretty woman crying. Dr. Mabongo also said that Frida was very nice to him when she kidnapped him. She fed him chocolate and other Western junk foods that he had never tried. Unfortunately, when we got him back, he wanted to eat those foods all the time.
BB: Do you think that Dr. Mabongo losing his powers is related to his newfound taste for Western junk food? They don't have chocolate and chips in the Congo.
Schwaiger: We have done our best to order the foods that Dr. Mabongo was used to eating in the Congo. But sometimes the mail is slow and it takes a while to get some of his favorite non-perishable foods. We tried a supplier in Berlin and another in Munich, but Dr. Mabongo said that the Congolese foods from them didn't taste right. In the meantime, we have been feeding him the same foods that the skiers eat. But somehow he still finds a way to get chocolate, cookies, and chips (crisps for our UK readers) for himself. Dr. Mabongo may be small, but he still has to eat. I just wish he would stick to the healthy foods that the skiers eat.
BB:  If you were to get rid of Dr. Mabongo, how would you get another witch doctor for your team? The Congo stopped issuing witch doctor visas.
Schwaiger: That is a good question. We have not made a decision yet about firing Dr. Mabongo. We will wait until after the Olympics or the end of the season. Then the DSV will make a decision. We hope that the Congo will start reissuing witch doctor visas. Otherwise, we may end up auctioning Dr. Mabongo on e-Bay or trading him for another team's witch doctor. Norway has expressed interest in giving our team a lifetime supply of ojlmsfjaegger for Dr. Mabongo (note to our newer readers:  Ojlmsfjaegger are pickled reindeer hearts covered in a special smoked salmon and chocloate sauce. They are eaten in Norway on birthdays). If there are no takers, we will have to send him back to the Congo. Perhaps we can trade him in for a different witch doctor.
BB: How does Dr. Mabongo feel about the possibility of being sent back to the Congo?
Schwaiger: He does not wish to go back and will do anything possible to stay in Europe.
BB: Do you think that the experiment of having a witch doctor failed?
Schwaiger: Not at all! The French men's technical team is having great success with its witch doctor. France wishes it got itself a witch doctor for the women's team before the Congo stopped issuing visas.  Other teams have come to us asking how they can get a witch doctor. If we do end up getting another witch doctor, we will have to keep him away from the junk food.
BB: In light of Dr. Mabongo's powers fading, will he still work with both the men's and women's teams in Sochi?
Schwaiger: Yes. This will be his big chance to prove himself. But no matter what happens, Germany will forever be the team that introduced team witch doctors to the World Cup. We are a trend setter!
BB: Let's hope that everything works out well for both the German team and Dr. Mabongo in Sochi and for the rest of the season. Well, Herr Schwaiger, it looks like our time is up. I want to wish the German team success in Sochi and for the remainder of the World Cup season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Witch doctors and junk food don't mix.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Did Marcel Hirscher Straddle: The Austrian-US Ski War

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Hannes Reichelt of Austria won this season's classic Hahnenkahm downhill race. Two days later he had surgery for a severely herniated disk. The day after Hannes triumphed, US racer Bode Miller was disqualified in the slalom portion of the super-combined race for straddling a gate. Bode would have placed 3rd, but Austrian skier Marcel Hirscher moved up to 3rd place due to Bode's DQ. Two days later in Schladming, Marcel was accused by the US of straddling the first gate in the second run of the slalom. What is going on? Is there a new Cold War between the US and Austria? There seem to be more accusations, intrigue, and conspiracies with the US and Austria than in a Brazilian soap opera. We dispatched one of our intrepid reporters to Austria to get the story. Our reporter talked to former Schladming police chief Hermann Mayer. Let's find out what Herr Mayer has to say.

BB: Herr Mayer, I see that you are no longer the police chief of Schladming.
Mayer: That's right. I am now a special consultant for crime prevention on the FIS Alpine skiing World Cup circuit. I work with the FIS, the Austrian Gendarmarie, and Interpol and am now based in Vienna instead of Schladming.
BB: Congratulations on your promotion! It looks like someone was impressed with the work you did to find Germany's witch doctor during the last world championships. Good luck in your new position.
Mayer: Thank you.
BB: I see you have your dog Fido with you now. Does he also work with you in Vienna?
Mayer: Yes. Ever since Fido found Dr. Mabongo hiding in Matthias Hargin's speed suit, he has been my faithful partner. We will travel to Sochi together as part of the Austrian security team.
BB: Let's start with Hannes Reichelt's back injury. You claim that you found evidence that it was not caused by normal wear and tear from ski racing.
Mayer: That's right. My colleagues and I suspect some sort of foul play behind Hannes' injury.
First of all, Hannes won one of the most difficult downhill races on Saturday. But on Monday morning he had surgery because he was practically crippled. He went from winning one of the most prestigious races in the World Cup to an operating table in two days. Secondly, Fido found a needle and a baby doll in the area where Bode's wife was standing. Mrs. Miller's story is that a button fell off her jacket and she needed to sew it back on, thus the needle. She said that she had the baby doll because none of the fans in Kitzbuehel would lend her a baby to hold up for the cameras. My men also found a copy of "Voodoo for Dummies" in the Milllers' recreational vehicle.
BB: Why would Bode and Morgan Miller want to harm Hannes Reichelt, who is one of the nicest guys in the World Cup?
Mayer: According to sources at the US Ski Team, Hannes started the whole chain of events when he won the Hahnenkahm downhill race. Bode was supposed to have won that race to seal his legacy, but Hannes stole his victory. It didn't matter to the US Ski Team that Hannes was the fastest skier with a flawless run while Bode made a mistake. We found out that Bode was given permission to get back at Hannes. But Bode didn't want to get his hands dirty, so he gave his wife the doll, some needles, and instructions to read Chapter 3 of "Voodoo for Dummies." She did the rest.
BB: How did the Austrians feel when they found out about the doll  and pins?
Mayer: They were not pleased to say the least. The Austrian Ski Federation needed to come up with a plan to get back at Bode for injuring one its top racers.
BB: What was this plan?
Mayer: They had to find a way to prevent Bode from getting on the podium in the super combined race. Austria conspired with Switzerland to get Bode to straddle a gate in that race.
BB: Wait a minute! Switzerland is a neutral country. They don't get involved in anyone else's battles.
Mayer: Switzerland set the combined race's slalom course. All of the trainers and athletes also had input about the setting during course inspection. Let's just say that Austria gently persuaded the Swiss to change the gate configuration to make it more favorable for Marcel.
BB: By gentle persuasion do you mean they hired a Mafia hit man or threatened them with a witch doctor's curse?
Mayer: (offended) Austria does not have any witch doctors or Mafia hit men! Our ski team is the best and doesn't need outside help to stay that way!
BB: Of course Austria is the best.  What was I thinking? But now I can see why a lot of the speed specialists in the Kitzbuehel combined race looked like they needed to take a basic slalom class. 
Mayer: Exactly! When Bode got disqualified for his straddle, which was obvious on the video replay, the US was very unhappy. It was the second time that weekend that an Austrian took what they felt was rightfully Bode's. The time for real revenge was at hand!
BB: And that's how the accusations of Marcel straddling in Schladming came about?
Mayer: Right! The people who first mentioned it were commentators from Universal Sports, which is a US sports network. The FIS's highly trained gate judges would have signaled if Marcel straddled. None of them did. The experts who watch the video replays frame-by-frame did not see a straddle. In addition, none of the other teams filed a complaint within the 15 minute time period.
BB: Maybe the others were afraid to complain because the race was held in Austria and an Austrian skier was involved. 
Mayer: That's what the US and their allies want the public to believe. They want the fans to think that there was a grand conspiracy by Austria to cover up the fact that Marcel straddled a gate. But slow-motion video replays showed that Marcel was clean and that the so-called straddle was an optical illusion. But we found that if there was a conspiracy, it was a US one to discredit Marcel and Austria.
BB: Have you found any evidence of a conspiracy?
Mayer: We looked at banking records and found that a large sum of money was transferred from an unknown entity to Universal Sports through a secret account in the Cayman Islands. My men are currently going through the bank records to figure out who sent the money.
BB: In other words, the Universal Sports commentators were bribed to say that Marcel straddled?
Mayer: That's right. They were the only ones to mention that Marcel straddled. But other US outlets picked up the story and ran with it. It was only after the Norwegians and French posted the story on some of their sites that the Universal Sports commentators confessed that they were wrong about Marcel straddling. They ended up giving the money to their favorite charities. But Austria got back at the US because it set the course for the first run of the St. Moritz giant slalom race. Bode ended up with an acrobatic DNF.
BB: Yes, but US racer Ted Ligety won that race and had the fastest run on the Austrian-set course.
Mayer: That's true. But Marcel still got back at the US by keeping his head and finishing second in that race, adding to his lead in the overall standings. Now we need to wait and see what move the US has in store for Austria. We will be ready to counter it!
BB: Do you think that this Ski Racing Cold War will come down to one country invading the other one?
Mayer: Austria is a peaceful country. But if the US wants to invade us, we will be ready! We learned from Slovenia last year how to prepare for an invasion. The elephants that we found in Soelden last October have been fattened up and are ready to face down an invading force! We even have some special boxing kangaroos!
BB: Kangaroos? In Austria?
Mayer: Yes, kangaroos. The Salzburg Zoo agreed to lend us their Australian boxing kangaroos in the event of an invasion. But the invaders will have to find us on a map first.
BB: Let's hope that the war between Austria and the US is fought on skis and not with armies,  elephants, and kangaroos. Well, it looks like we are out of time. Herr Mayer, I want to thank you for this interview. I'm sure that you and Fido will do a good job keeping the athletes safe in Sochi. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Will Hannes Reichelt and Bode Miller challenge each other to a duel when Hannes recovers from his surgery? How did the Salzburg Zoo get boxing kangaroos? And how does Marcel Hirscher's Finnish reindeer Ferdinand fit into this puzzle? All this and more in our next episode.

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.