Sunday, July 20, 2014

Freedonia Ski Federation Officials Suspended

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Four Slovenian officials were suspended after it was disclosed that they falsified race results so that Thai violinist Vanessa Mae could qualify for the 2014 Olympics. In addition to being in races with non-existent competitors, Vanessa Mae also competed in a junior championship race at age 35. This is old news that the others have already reported. What the others have not reported is that the International Ski Federation (FIS) is widening its investigation and has found some curious results for the men who qualified for the Freedonian Olympic ski team, including Red Bull/HEAD Mafia enforcer Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli (see this story).  As a result, the whole Freedonian Ski Federation has been suspended. Our contact at the FIS, Bob, is working on this matter but he had some time to talk to one of our intrepid reporters. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: It looks like the FIS has finally given you some real work to do. How did you get involved in this investigation?
Bob: I got lucky. One of the original investigators needed a heart procedure and was ordered to rest for two to three months. At the time the investigation started, I didn't have much work to do, so I was asked to join the team. I must say, our team of investigators is as intrepid as your researchers.
BB: Let's not go that far. Nobody is as intrepid as the Blickbild's reporters and research team. Your team may come close, but it will never equal ours! (short pause) The ski world knows about the four Slovenian officials being suspended due to falsifying results so that Vanessa Mae could qualify for the Olympics. What made the FIS decide to expand its investigation?
Bob: We found some irregularities with the team from Freedonia.
BB: Was it the same situation as in Slovenia, where non-existent racers got results?
Bob:  All of the competitors in the races that the Freedonians submitted for Olympic qualification were real as were their placements. That was not the main issue with Team Freedonia that was a red flag for us.
BB: Then what set off alarm bells at the FIS?
Bob: The races that the men competed in. For example, Vinnie Razzovelli won his first race. That was quite remarkable for someone who had just learned how to ski. Then we saw that he competed in his ski school's beginner class race. He placed first in the adult male division. He also competed in other novice races and had placed well in all of them.
BB: When I interviewed him last winter, he said that he did very well in all of his races and was easily able to earn the required 140 points to qualify for the Olympics.
Bob: He did quite well in his races, especially for a beginner. Others on the Freedonian team also competed in races that were part of company outings or other local novice races. Yet they somehow earned FIS points for competing in those races.
BB: They also managed to earn 140 points and a place on the Freedonian Olympic team.
Bob: They did, but not in the same way that racers from countries like Ethiopia or Fiji qualified. For example, Giovanni "The Hammer" Maggio, another Freedonian Olympian, has a son named Fabrizio who is a promising young ski racer. It turned out that Fabrizio competed under his father's name until he earned 140 points.  He is 12 years old and only supposed to compete in U14 races. But somehow young Fabrizio was in adult races competing as Giovanni. Either that or Giovanni is a very small adult. Lorenzo "The Razor" Dinova, the Freedonian flag bearer, competed in the Albanian junior ski championships even though he is 37 years old. I guess he figured that if Fabrizio Maggio could compete in adult races, he could participate in junior ones.
BB: Wasn't anyone at the FIS suspicious because none of the Freedonian racers competed in World, Europa, or Nor-Am Cup races?
Bob: Not really. A lot of the novelty racers at the Olympics don't compete at the World, Europa, or Nor-Am Cup levels. They do enough FIS races to get their points and qualify for the Olympics.
BB: So how did the Freedonians slip through the cracks?
Bob: There are a lot of amateur racers who try to qualify for the Olympics. It is hard to keep track of every one. We have a lot of FIS races. Even with our computers, it is hard to keep track of who participated in real FIS races and who didn't. We also have a lot of points to calculate. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is also at fault because it wants as many countries as possible to compete at the Olympics.
BB: I see. How will this investigation affect amateur ski racers who want to compete in the Vail World Championships or the next Olympics?
Bob: We will keep better track of the types of races that athletes are competing in to qualify. Only athletes who compete in real FIS races will be eligible to earn Olympic qualification points. No more ski school or company outing races will be used to earn FIS points.
BB: The situation with the Freedonian team was different than Vanessa Mae's because she actually got to compete. None of the Freedonian racers actually competed in the Olympic ski races because the Russians thought that they were part of the security detail. They were immediately put to work in security, though Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli worked with a biathlon team and got to ski and carry a gun. 
Bob: That is true. But we still need to let Freedonia know that if its racers want to be in the Olympics, they need to qualify the proper way.
BB: I know that the FIS is all about following rules. That is why racers get disqualified when their skis are 0.000000001 millimeter too long or wide.
Bob: That's right. While safety is very important to us at the FIS, following the rules to the letter is also a big priority for us.
BB: One more thing. Do you or any of your colleagues at the FIS realize that Freedonia is not a real country? It is a fictional nation from the 1933 movie Duck Soup. 
Bob: That can't be!  We are getting applications from ski racers from The Shire, Narnia, and Westeros for next February's World Championships. Are you going to tell me that they are also not real countries?
BB: They are all fictional places. Don't you or your colleagues ever read or look at a world map?
Bob: We are very busy at the FIS coming up with new rules for the athletes and different ways to confuse the fans. Of course we are also doing our best to boost our TV ratings, which are very important to us. Safety is very important to the FIS, but so are TV ratings. In other words, we have no time to read or look at maps.
BB: I realize that you want more countries participating in the World Championships, and the IOC wants more countries at the Olympics, but they should probably be real ones. How can the FIS suspend officials from a country that does not exist except in an old Marx Brothers movie?
Bob: We have to punish someone for letting the Freedonians qualify for the Olympics. After all, the FIS cannot admit to having a flawed qualification procedure because we are always right.
BB: Be careful because you don't want to wake up to a horse's head in your bed one morning. The Freedonian Olympic team was solely composed of Mafia enforcers. You don't want to anger them if you treasure your kneecaps. 
Bob: It looks like we need to find a way to figure out which countries are real and which ones aren't before the next World Championships. Or else we will end up with another Freedonia situation.
BB: Good luck with that. Hopefully we will only see athletes from real countries at the World Championships next February. Well it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for taking the time to give us another interesting interview. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: All of our reporters and researchers come from real countries except for the one from the land of Oz. 
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