Sunday, March 2, 2014

Should Ante Kostelic Be Banned From Course Setting?

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Ante Kostelic has come under fire for his difficult course settings in Sochi. He set the slalom course in the men's super-combined race and also the second run of the men's slalom. Almost 40% of the men in the second run of the slalom ended up not being able to finish. Is Ante Kostelic a genius in setting courses that require racers to use their brains along with their technical skills, or is he an evil sadist who enjoys watching people fail? One of our intrepid reporters had the opportunity to moderate a debate about Ante Kostelic's course settings. The two people debating the issue are Bob, our favorite contact at the International Ski Federation (FIS), and Jane Hoffman, who trains young skiers in California. Let's find out what they have to say.

BB: What was your opinion of Ante Kostelic's course in the second run of the Olympic slalom? Bob, I'll start with you.
Bob: It was very different and more complex than a standard slalom course. But Ante's courses are like that. The FIS had no problems with the course because it followed our rules and the FIS is always right, even when we're wrong. Nobody seemed to have a problem with it during the course inspection. I personally felt that it really tested a racer's tactical ability as well as technical prowess. In other words, it was a masterpiece.
BB: Jane, what did you think?
Jane: It was a disaster! Forty percent of the starters in the second run failed to finish. Ante Kostelic obviously does not care about the racers' self-esteem. If he did, he would have set an easier course.
Bob: Jane, you come from a country where they play baseball, a sport where a 70 percent failure rate in hitting the ball is considered great. If ski racing were baseball, the 40% DNF rate in Sochi would be considered fantastic.
Jane: Ski racing is very different from baseball. First of all, baseball games are played every year, not just every four years at the Olympics.
Bob: Jane, you ignorant slut! You obviously know nothing about ski racing, yet you say that you train young skiers. What are you teaching them?
BB: Time out! There will be no name calling. This is supposed to be a civilized discussion. (slight pause) Jane, what is your experience training young skiers?
Jane: I am a ski instructor who teaches beginners, mainly young children. But my class has a race at the end of the ski course and I give the kids advice on racing strategy. All of the kids in my class get a medal at the award ceremony after the race. It's important for them to feel good about themselves for finishing the race.
BB: I see. Let's get back to Ante Kostelic and his course setting at the Olympics.
Jane: Good idea. How come a father got to set a course for his son? I don't let the parents of my students set the race courses. The ski school where I work has professional course setters.
Bob: Jane, you.................first of all, Ante Kostelic is the Croatian team trainer. Secondly, if he set the course specifically for his son, then Ivica Kostelic would have won the gold medal in Sochi instead of Mario Matt. Ivica also would have had the fastest time on the course, but he didn't. Adam Zampa from Slovakia was the fastest on Ante's course.
BB: For our readers' information, Adam Zampa does slalom training with the Kostelics.
Jane: That sure sounds like Mr. Zampa had an unfair advantage. He got to train on courses set by Ante Kostelic.
Bob:  Adam still had to perform on race day, which he did. But if he really had an unfair advantage, he would have won the gold medal. Anyway, the men in the slalom race had advance notice about who was setting the courses for the first and second runs. It's not like they found out on race day that Ante was going to be the course setter. They had time to prepare both mentally and physically for it. They also had time to view it during the course inspection.
Jane: I think that the course should have been easier to allow everyone to be able to finish it. Everyone who finished that course should have won a gold medal.
Bob: This is the Olympics and not a beginners' class race. The racers are the best in the world and should compete on a difficult course. There is also a reason why Olympic medals are so valuable. Only the top three can earn one. If everyone got a gold medal, then the medals would be worthless.
Jane: Ante Kostelic is a big bully who obviously needs to take anger management classes. He is obviously acting out repressed anger and hatred through his course settings.
BB: Whoa, that's a bit harsh. Let's stop the name calling and discuss Ante Kostelic's course setting like mature adults. (slight pause) What do you two think of Ted Ligety's comment that the course was borderline unsportsmanlike?
Jane: I agree with Ted. He should know because he just won a slalom gold medal in Sochi.
Bob: Jane, you're an.............I disagree. First of all, Ted won gold in giant slalom, which is different from slalom. He was 6th in the slalom race after the first run, which was set by the German trainer. I think his comments were from frustration at not finishing. Ted is very inconsistent in slalom and tried to ski down like a bull in a china shop when an Ante Kostelic course requires finesse. Silver medalist Marcel Hirscher and bronze medalist Henrik Kristoffersen actually liked the course and excelled on it.
Jane: I would never set a course for my students that only allowed 60 percent of them to finish. It would traumatize them for life and they would never want to ski again.
Bob: This is the Olympics, not a ski school race for 7-year-olds! Every racer at the Olympics has failed to finish a race at least once in his life. A DNF is part of racing and I don't believe that professional racers suffer lifelong mental trauma because they had one.
Jane: And how would you know how those poor racers feel? They failed to finish the course in front of a worldwide audience. That has to scar them for life.
Bob: My goodness, of course they are not scarred for life. If a DNF was so traumatic, there would be no racers left because every professional racer has had one at least once in his career. I know this because I work for the FIS and we are always right.
BB: What is your opinion about Andre Myhrer calling Ante Kostelic an idiot?
Jane: He is right. Ante Kostelic is an idiot for making those poor racers look bad in front of the whole world.
Bob: If you look back to the Schladming world championships last year, one could say that Andre was being an idiot for not returning Germany's witch doctor, who was kidnapped by one of his teammates. He could have stepped up and done the right thing by returning Dr. Mabongo. But instead, he let his teammates keep the witch doctor.
Jane: What do witch doctors have to do with Ante Kostelic and his horrible course setting?
Bob: You obviously don't keep up with skiing news. Everyone knows that Sweden is under a curse for kidnapping the witch doctor in Schladming. Andre really had no right to be upset in Sochi because he knew that a gold medal was impossible due to the curse.
Jane:  Wow, that punishment seems awfully extreme! That is tantamount to psychological torture.
Bob: Kidnapping another team's witch doctor is a serious offense. While athlete safety and always being right are priorities at the FIS, one of our other priorities is ensuring that witch doctors are not abducted by opposing teams.
Jane: Wait a minute! Witch doctors aren't real. The idea of a ski team having a witch doctor is too weird to believe.
Bob: It's not any weirder than every finisher at the Olympics earning a gold medal.
BB: It looks like we have drifted far away from our original discussion and we are now out of time.  I want to thank both of you for your time and for presenting your interesting opinions. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive debate.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our intrepid reporters are not idiots or unsportsmanlike. They always produce masterpieces.

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