Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Soelden Advance Preview

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Recently Lindsey Vonn and Roger Federer had a tennis match in the Swiss Alps. Even though the first races of the season are just under two months away, we got a sneak peek at what could be the main event of the Soelden race weekend. What does the Soelden race weekend have to do with Lindsey and Roger, neither of whom will even be there? One of our intrepid reporters went to Soelden and was able to meet up with Burgermeister (mayor) Ernst Schoepf to find out how the Vonn/Federer tennis match and the Soelden races are related. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: How are the preparations for the races going?
Schoepf: Very well. The performers are rehearsing for the opening ceremony and the other featured acts are also preparing to be on the world stage.
BB: Most of the racers have started their on-snow training to prepare for Soelden. Judging from some of the summer race results, we may see a surprise or two.
Schoepf: You never know. Speaking of surprises, we will have an event that will make the ski races seem dull and boring by comparison.
BB: Wait a minute! Soelden is all about the opening races of a new ski season. Nothing is more important, or exciting, to the fans than seeing who wins the first races of the season.
Schoepf: Oh, you are so wrong! Forget about Ted Ligety winning again in Soelden. Our Battle of the Sexes 2014 will be the highlight of the season.
BB: Battle of the Sexes? The International Ski Federation (FIS) ruled two years ago that women cannot compete in men's races and vice versa.
Schoepf: Lindsey Vonn and Roger Federer competed against each other a couple of months ago. Nobody told them that they couldn't play tennis against each other.
BB: It was not a very memorable match, since our intrepid research team could not find one person who knew who won. Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs have Lindsey and Roger beaten by 41 years. Everyone knows that Billie Jean was the clear winner in the original Battle of the Sexes tennis match.
Schoepf: How are they supposed to know about a tennis match from 1973? Neither Roger nor Lindsey was even born then. Anyway, this competition will feature animals instead of people.
BB: Animals? 
Schoepf: Yes animals. It will be a canine Battle of the Sexes.
BB: This is getting more and more intriguing. You are saying that a dog race will be more appealing to ski racing fans than the giant slalom races?
Schoepf: That's right. The female dog will be Marcel Hirscher's former seeing eye dog Whitey (see this story). She will compete in a special match race against Felix Neureuther's dog Buddy.
BB: Who will you cheer for?
Schoepf: I will cheer for Whitey. I think that Buddy is a very good and fast dog, but I must cheer for my fellow Austrian.
BB: What kind of race will it be? Whitey was Marcel's guide dog for a couple of seasons and would have the advantage on a ski slope. 
Schoepf: They will compete side-by-side on special skis.
BB: Are you telling me that there are special skis for dogs?
Schoepf: What do you think Whitey used when she guided Marcel?
BB: She didn't use skis but simply ran. Whitey was fast enough by herself that she didn't need skis. She was one of the very few dogs who could keep up with Marcel on a ski slope, which is why she was his guide dog. (short pause) So you are saying that this is basically a parallel slalom race but with dogs instead of people?
Schoepf: No. They will ski down one of the pistes in Soelden, which will be turned into a downhill course for this event. But they will be side-by-side so that the fans can directly compare them. Ski racing fans of course look forward to the races in Soelden. But they must wait even longer for the speed races to start. What better way to give the fans technical races and a speed race in the same weekend! You also have a male and female racing against each other, which adds to the excitement.
BB: I'm sorry, but this sounds absurd, even by our standards.
Schoepf: It is not absurd at all. If Whitey beats Buddy, then the FIS may start allowing women to compete in men's races. Lindsey Vonn could get her wish to compete against men after all.
BB: OK, I can see dogs possibly being forerunners in the giant slalom races. That would be something new and different for the opening races of the season. But racing against each other on skis? Have they even practiced on skis?
Schoepf: Of course they have. They are turning in some training times that could even challenge Aksel Lund Svindal or Matthias Mayer on a real downhill course.
BB: How did anyone even come up with this idea?
Schoepf: I wish that I could claim the credit for it. But it was HEAD's idea.
BB: Hold on here! People are going to think that they are reading the Onion instead of the Blickbild. 
Schoepf: HEAD has come out with a new line of skis for dogs. They are so that the whole family can vacation together, even the dog. Instead of having to find someone to take care of the dog while the family takes a ski holiday, Fido can join in the family fun on the pistes. HEAD originally wanted to invite Lindsey Vonn's dog Leo to participate in the race. In fact, Whitey was looking forward to racing against him. But Lindsey turned us down because she won't be in Soelden this year and doesn't want to be separated from Leo. However, Felix Neureuther volunteered Buddy to compete against Whitey.
BB: Neither Felix nor Marcel use HEAD equipment. Why would they want to promote a brand that they don't use? 
Schoepf: Atomic and Nordica, Marcel and Felix's sponsors, don't make skis for dogs. HEAD is the only one so far and hopes to stay that way.
BB: One more thing. The last big match race between male and female animals was a horse race between the filly Ruffian and Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure back in 1975. It turned out very badly for Ruffian and she had to be destroyed. (see this article) How would you feel if Whitey got injured? She is now the Austrian team's mascot and much loved by the whole team. If Buddy got hurt, how would you justify it to Felix? He loves his dog too. 
Schoepf: We are taking many precautions to protect the animals. It would look bad if the first male-female ski race had to be stopped due to an injury. Whoever wins this race will have the glory of winning the first FIS-sanctioned race of a male versus a female. If it is a success, then HEAD could expand its line of skis for pets to include cats, hamsters, and rabbits. Think of all the videos of cats on their HEAD skis that would be shared on Facebook! I am looking forward to this match race and I'm sure the fans will too.
BB: I'm sure they will. Somehow I don't see a mass exodus to ski shops to buy equipment for  dogs and cats. But I have been wrong before. Well, it looks like we are out of time. Herr Schoepf, I want to thank you for another interesting pre-Soelden interview. We will see you in Soelden in October for both the canine and the human races. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We only print stories that are too ridiculous for anyone else to publish.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Help Wanted

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Ski racing season will be starting in less than 10 weeks. Ski Racing magazine just put out an ad looking for writers. (see this link) The Blickbild is also looking for people to join its intrepid reporting team. Do you or someone you know have what it takes to be a Blickbild reporter? Leave a comment either here, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter. We asked our chief editor about the job requirements. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Please tell our readers what it takes to be part of the Boston Blickbild team.
Editor: Of course the most important quality is intrepidness. If you are a wimp, don't even think of applying to work for us. Go work for Ski Racing magazine or any of the other publications instead of us. We have the most intrepid reporters in the business and want to keep it that way. 
BB: Right. Wimps at the Blickbild will ruin its reputation. 
Editor: We publish the news that the others don't dare to print. Only the most intrepid reporters can do that. In fact, if you are a sissy we will not consider hiring you even if you meet all of the other requirements. That is how important being intrepid is to us. 
BB: What else do you require in your reporters and researchers?
Editor: They must be able to eat exotic foods like ojlmsfjaegger or surstroemming and act like they really enjoy them. 
BB: Tell our newer readers what those are. 
Editor: Ojlmsfjaegger are cubes of pickled reindeer heart in a special chocolate and smoked salmon sauce. They are eaten in Norway on birthdays and are considered a real treat. Surstroemming are specially fermented herring that is a Swedish specialty. 
BB: I have eaten both ojlmsfjaegger and surstroemming and lived to tell about it. Kjetil Jansrud's grandmother supposedly makes the best ojlmsfjaegger in Norway. (see this story). It was actually pretty good. I must admit that the surstroemming was awful. (see this story) But I tried it anyway.
Editor: Another important requirement for our reporters is being able to travel on short notice, so they must have a valid passport. They don't just travel to the races and big events like the Olympics and World Championships. The Blickbild has sent its reporters to places like: the Mojave Desert in California, the Lubyanka prison in Moscow, New Jersey, Mongolia, and the Congo.
BB: Is it better for a Blickbild reporter to be based in Europe or the States?
Editor: Europe is ideal because most of the World Cup races are there and it is easier to get to the races. But if someone from North or South America is willing to spend the winter in Europe, then he or she would be considered. Our reporters should also know their geography so that they get to their intended destinations in a timely manner. If a race is in St. Moritz, our reporter should be able to find his way to Switzerland and not end up in Swaziland. In fact, all applicants must pass a geography test.
BB: Geographical knowledge is a very important skill. Is there any other knowledge that a Blickbild reporter must possess?
Editor: Oh yes! Our reporters should have knowledge about ski racing and the athletes. I think that everyone learned their lesson after Regina Mader got married and changed her name to Sterz. (see this story)
BB: Are prospective reporters required to take a test about the racers?
Editor: Yes. They must also know FIS World Cup racing and artistry rules and take a test about them. These tests are not as difficult as those given to FIS artistry judges, but they help us to eliminate the unqualified candidates.
BB: Must your reporters have their own computers? Several magazines require reporters to use their own computers.
Editor: No, we provide our reporters with the latest laptop computers and smart phones. But because we provide the equipment, our reporters must be willing to work all hours of the day and night seven days a week in order to get interviews and file their stories. We also prefer that they don't take holidays. But if a reporter feels that he needs a break, he must take his holiday during the short interval between the end of racing season and the start of summer and fall training. There is no off-season at the Blickbild! The reporters who decided to use the football World Cup as an excuse to take a holiday were severely punished for that transgression.
BB: Do your reporters need to know foreign languages?
Editor: English and German are the two universal languages of the World Cup tour. Our reporters should have good skills in both of those languages. Additional languages are a bonus. Applicants will be given written and oral tests in English and German. We also provide interpreters for our reporters when they must interview people who don't speak English or German.
BB: Is experience with conducting interviews also required?
Editor: Definitely! Our reporters have to interview a variety of people like: athletes, trainers, officials at the FIS, Russian border guards, city mayors, police officers, actors who play detectives, Mafia enforcers, and witch doctors. They should be able to get along with people of all cultures and races and be able to conduct themselves in a professional manner. 
BB: Do your reporters have to submit a minimum number of stories per week?
Editor: We don't have any quotas, though we expect more output during racing season. We are more about quality than quantity, though we have been known to accept stories that weren't up to a tabloid's journalistic standards. Our reporters must be able to think on their feet and figure out which stories are ones that the others won't touch. Or if someone else has already reported the story, our reporter must be able to give a unique perspective on it.
BB: Is there anything else that is mandatory for a Blickbild reporter?
Editor: No, I think that we covered everything.
BB: It takes a special type of reporter to work for the Blickbild. Let's see if I can summarize the requirements....A Blickbild reporter needs: intrepidness, willingness to eat exotic foods, the flexibility to travel on short notice, geographical knowledge, familiarity with the athletes and FIS World Cup rules, willingness to work every day at all hours of the day and night and never take holidays, fluency in German and English, interviewing experience, and creativity in finding and getting the right story. 
Editor: That's right. Anyone who fits all of these requirements is strongly encouraged to apply.
BB: Well, it looks like we are running out of time. I want to thank you for this interview and hope that you get good candidates. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Many apply but few are chosen to wear the Boston Blickbild press badge.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Athlete Profile: Frida Hansdotter

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Sweden's Frida Hansdotter has the distinction of setting the record for most 2nd place finishes in the World Cup (8) before winning her first race last season. She finished 2nd in the slalom standings last season. Frida was also the racer who kidnapped German witch doctor Dr. Mabongo (see this story) in Schladming last year. One of our intrepid reporters was able to catch up with Frida and talk with her about all of her 2nd place finishes and her relationship with Dr. Mabongo. While people say that nobody remembers who finishes second, we feel that our readers will find Frida very memorable. Let's find out what she has to say.

BB: You have nine World Cup 2nd place finishes. You were also 2nd in the World Cup slalom standings last year and you have a silver medal in the 2013 World Championship team event. How does it feel to be the perennial 2nd place finisher?
Hansdotter: I am not always in second place. I also have a bronze medal from the Schladming World Championships last year. And I also won my first World Cup race last season.
BB: A bronze medal for 3rd place and a win average to second place. 
Hansdotter: At least I am reliable. People who play ski racing podium prediction games love me because they have a good shot of winning by picking me to place second.
BB: Your consistency is amazing and does make many podium prediction game players very happy. But the World Cup is not the only venue where you have been second place. 
Hansdotter: That's right. When I was 3 I competed in my ski school's beginners' race and placed 2nd in my age group. I won a little medal and a bag of chocolate. I still have the medal but ate the chocolate.
BB: Little did you know that that race was an omen of your future.
Hansdotter: Right. The next two years I placed second in the 4 and 5-year-old divisions.
BB: But it was not only on the ski slopes where you were "Miss Second Place." 
Hansdotter: That's right. My primary school had a reading competition for third graders. I actually won first place for my school but was second out of all of the primary school students in my city. I still have that trophy. I was also the second best in my primary school's ski race every year. Not just for the girls, but overall. I was faster than all of the girls and all of the boys except for one of my classmates. Unfortunately, he got injured as a junior racer and quit skiing.
BB: You have obviously been great on the ski slopes but tell our readers more about your other second place finishes.
Hansdotter: Every year in school we had to do fitness tests. I was the second-fastest runner and long jumper. I could also do the second-most push-ups and sit-ups. The only event where I did not place second was throwing a ball.
BB: Our intrepid research team also found out that you are very good at mathematics.
Hansdotter: Yes. I was second place in a mathematics competition when I was in 8th grade. I actually put my math knowledge to good use as a ski racer. We racers have to be able to tell when our boots are 0.00000001 mm too high or our skis are too long or wide by that much.
BB: Very true. You are also the number two ranked athlete on your team in eating surstroemming. I can't even get past the smell, yet you eat them like they are candy.
Hansdotter: You really have to be Swedish to appreciate surstroemming. Andre Myhrer has been the Swedish ski team's surstroemming eating champion for the past 3 years.
BB: You were also the second Swedish ski racer, after your teammate Jessica Lindell-Vikarby, to win a race while being under a curse. 
Hansdotter: Yes. Both Jessica and I were able to overcome the curse. We will be even stronger next season, now that the curse has been lifted.
BB: How were you able to overcome the curse? The men on your team were not able to, and neither were the women except for you and Jessica.
Hansdotter: I think that Dr. Mabongo really liked Jessica and me and felt sorry for having to put us under a curse.
BB: What is your relationship with Dr. Mabongo now? He obviously does not have any hard feelings toward you because you won a race while under his curse.
Hansdotter: We are friendly with each other. He understands why I abducted him. In fact, I think that he has a crush on me. He sends me flowers with a nice note before every race. Dr. Mabongo even asked me out on a date, but I had to turn him down because it would have been too awkward.
BB: The flowers and notes are really very sweet though.  Have you and Dr. Mabongo ever--
Hansdotter: Certainly not! I have never had sex with Dr. Mabongo! Never! Never! Never! I am faithful to my boyfriend! Maybe Jessica has and that's why she got to be the first Swedish skier to win a race while under his curse.
BB: I was going to ask if you and Dr. Mabongo ever had a chance to sit down and talk about  the abduction and last season's curse on Sweden. 
Hansdotter: Sorry. Yes we have. He really is very nice and even advised our team on what to look for in a witch doctor.
BB: Now for the question that the whole ski world has been asking for the past 18 months...why Dr. Mabongo? France and Italy also had witch doctors in Schladming, yet you went after Germany's. 
Hansdotter: Dr. Mabongo was the most well-known out of all the ski team witch doctors. If I was going to abduct a witch doctor, I wanted the best one. After all, he was the Witch Doctor of the Year (see this story). He really worked wonders with Maria Hoefl-Riesch and I wanted him to work his magic with me to help me win a race.
BB: Do you realize that you are not the second, but the first, athlete to steal another team's witch doctor?
Hansdotter: Wow! I am first at something after all.
BB: I hope that you can finish first in many races next season, even though that will confound those who play ski race podium prediction games. 
Hansdotter: Thank you. I hope so too.
BB: Well, it looks like we are just about out of time. I want to thank you for this interview and wish you a successful season. You were second to none as an interview subject. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters are the most, and never the second-most, intrepid 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.