Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Soelden 2014 Review

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Our intrepid on-the-spot reporters were in Soelden to bring our readers the stories that the others don't dare to print. The others will talk about Mikaela Shiffrin and Anna Fenninger tying for first place, Marcel Hirscher's huge margin of victory, or Ted Ligety's big mistake that landed him in 10th place. We won't. Instead, our reporters dug deep and found stories that even the tabloids won't touch. Let's find out what they have to say. 

Is Sweden Still Cursed? Even though Dr. Mabongo's curse against Sweden was lifted during the summer break, Team Sweden performed like it was still under it. The top Swedish woman was Maria Pietilae-Holmner in 8th place, while the best male performer was 14th place Calle Lindh. Did Dr. Mabongo really lift his curse, or does the team still think it is in effect? We tried to contact Dr. Mabongo to find out if he really lifted his curse, but he was busy with the German men's team and had no time for us. One would think that the publication which made Dr. Mabongo famous would be worth a few minutes of his time. He had time to send Frida Hansdotter flowers before the women's race, and time to help Fritz Dopfer to a 2nd place finish in Soelden, but none for us. We'll show that little twerp......................anyway, we will just have to wait three weeks until the races in Levi to find out if Dr. Mabongo's curse is still in effect. 

Julia Mancuso's Hair. Dr. Mabongo is not the only one keeping our readers in suspense. Julia Mancuso is doing the same with her hair color. Over the summer she had blue hair, but she showed up in Soelden as a blonde. What hair color will she have for the North American races? It turns out that one of Julia's new sponsors is Miss Clairol Hair Dye. At every race weekend this season she will sport a different hair color, which will not be announced in advance. Members of ski racing fan sites are already placing bets on Julia's hair color for Aspen and Lake Louise. Julia's hair raises an interesting question for the FIS. Will a racer be deducted if her hair color clashes with her racing suit or boots? The powers that be at the FIS will be debating whether hair counts as part of a racer's ensemble, and can therefore incur artistry bonuses or deductions, at their next meeting. 

Best Artistic Impression. Ondrej Bank of the Czech Republic lost a ski in the early part of the second run. He did a great job staying balanced on one ski and earned bonus points for his grace. The Russian judge was especially impressed with Ondrej's performance and gave him a perfect 10. Unfortunately, that score was thrown out. But the average of his other scores was 9.6. Ondrej's service man, on the other hand, got a big zero and a scolding for neglecting to properly adjust the ski's bindings. Jared Goldberg of the USA earned originality points for his move where he landed on his back, bounced up, and was able to complete the first run. The down side was that he lost a lot of time and did not qualify for the second run. Jared earned a score of 9.35. Tim Jitloff (USA) looked like he missed a gate in the second run and was on the way to being disqualified. But he went around that gate in a way that looked like he straddled it. Video revealed that his technique was legal and he got bonus points for his creativity in looking deceptive. His artistry score was 8.9 despite a zero from the French judge (which was thrown out), who is still convinced that Tim cheated. 

How Do You Define Fast and Slow? It looks like the Austrian commentators on ORF either need new glasses, or they need to come back to Earth from their alternate universe. Co-winner Mikaela Shiffrin was the first racer and finished her run in 1:17:93. After she finished, the commentators thought that her time would not hold up because the normal time for the Soelden course is around 1:12. They thought that Mikaela looked great, had impressive form, and skied a perfect line, but was slower than a snail. Mikaela had the last laugh when she led the field after the first run. In the second run, the ORF commentators thought that Andrea Fischbacher, who had the fastest time in Run 2, was unbelievably fast. Her time? 1:19:59. So 1:17 is too slow, but 1:19 is faster than a speeding bullet? Our reporters and researchers want to move to Planet ORF the next time they miss a deadline. Their editors will think they finished before they even got the assignment. 

Lucky Numbers. Last year in Soelden the winning number for the men and women was 3. This year co-winners Mikaela Shiffrin and Anna Fenninger had start numbers 1 and 5 respectively. Both numbers average to 3. But it looks like this year that 5 is a lucky number because that was men's winner Marcel Hirscher's number. Continuing on the 5 theme, Justin Murisier of Switzerland had start number 55 and finished Sunday's race in an impressive 12th place. FIS officials will be monitoring the number draw box in Levi to ensure that the numbers 5 and 55 are not the only ones in it.

A Sight that Makes Sore Eyes. France started a trend in 2013 with its speed suit that looked like it had been designed by someone who was high on hallucinogenic drugs. Other countries have followed suit with the psychedelic look, notably Norway and Finland. Norway's new racing suit is purple with other colors in a crazy pattern. But the ensemble that was hardest on the eyes was Finland's. Last year's speed suit was bad enough with its blue and white stripes. This year Finland went to a black and white checkerboard pattern. But the warm up pants and jackets were even worse. They had the checkerboard pattern but the bottoms of the pants and sleeves had red, yellow, and black stripes in a German flag pattern. There was even some green mixed in on the cuffs and bottom of the pants. The designers at Halti were obviously doing their best to get bonus points for artistry and originality. Either that, or their strategy was to get Finnish racers to win by making the others tear their eyes out after looking at their clothing.

You Ask A Stupid Question. Our reporters are known for coming up with hard-hitting questions. But in Soelden Marcel Hirscher was asked the all-time dumbest question in ski racing history. The good thing is that one of our intrepid reporters did not ask it. A US reporter asked Marcel Hirscher if he felt that it was important to win in his home country. Marcel was his usual cool self and said, "Of course." Was  he supposed to have said, "No. I really wanted to lose but, darn it, I was going too fast and ended up winning the race?"  If one of our reporters asked a question like that, he would find himself in the unemployment line faster than Andrea Fischbacher skied the second run in Soelden. We will stick to questions that nobody else dares to ask.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive report. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We don't change our hair color, but people think that we take 5 types of hallucinogenic drugs to come up with our stories. 

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