Friday, November 14, 2014

Freedonia Ski Team Investigation Complete

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The International Ski Federation (FIS) has completed its investigation of Thai skier Vanessa Mae and the Slovenian and Italian officials who helped her to qualify for the Sochi Olympics. Vanessa Mae and the officials have been suspended for between one and four years. This is old news that the others have already reported, so we won't bother with it. The FIS also looked into how the Mafia enforcers of the Freedonian Ski Team made it to Sochi. What the FIS found will surprise everyone. Here to talk with one of our intrepid reporters is Bob, our favorite contact at the FIS. Bob was part of the committee which investigated Team Freedonia. Let's find out what he has to say. 

BB: Hello, Bob. It's nice to see you again. How are you doing?
Bob: I am doing very well, thank you. It's good to see you too.
BB: Tell our readers about the results of the FIS investigation into the Freedonian Olympic Ski Team. 
Bob: We found no wrongdoing by the Freedonians.
BB: Wait a minute! How can that be? You and your committee found all sorts of irregularities before. (see this story
Bob: We did at first, but after investigating each one, we found no criminal activity or intent to defraud the FIS or the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The Freedonian officials' suspensions have been reversed and they were given all of their rightful back pay.
BB: Are you admitting that the FIS was wrong?
Bob: The FIS is always right, even when we're supposedly wrong.
BB: Let's go through all of the different points one by one to see how the FIS ruled in Freedonia's favor. The first point is that Freedonia is not a real country. Haven't you ever seen the Marx Brothers' movie "Duck Soup?"
Bob: Of course I have seen "Duck Soup." But the IOC was very insistent on increasing the number of countries that participate in the Winter Olympics, even if some of those countries were fictional. Team Freedonia was actually helping the IOC achieve its goal of a record number of countries represented in Sochi.
BB: The next item is that Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli got FIS points for winning the beginners' race at his ski school. 
Bob:  At the time that Vinnie took his first ski lessons, he was still a patient at the New Jersey Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Before doing the race, his instructor told him to imagine that he was in a real FIS race. After the race, which he won, he wanted to know how many points he got. Since Vinnie was considered criminally insane, nobody wanted to set him off. He was told that he earned real FIS points. After he recovered, nobody wanted to be the one to tell him that his instructor gave him points out of self-preservation. Because Vinnie was considered legally insane at the time, he was allowed to keep his points. Even after he recovered from his illness, he competed in novice races and earned FIS points. We let him keep his points to prevent a relapse.
BB: Are you saying that Vinnie set a precedent using the insanity defense to earn the points required to qualify for the Olympics?
Bob: That is an interesting question. I suppose you could say he did. But the point is that Vinnie was a victim of his illness and therefore did nothing wrong.
BB: Okay. Another member of the Freedonian team, Giovanni "The Hammer"Maggio did not actually participate in any qualifying races, but his 12-year-old son Fabrizio did. 
Bob:  Fabrizio, or "Little Hammer," is quite a gifted ski racer and could make the US Ski Team if he keeps going the way he is. He did race in the Olympic qualifiers and easily earned enough FIS points to go to Sochi. But here is the thing that confused everyone. Fabrizio is actually Giovanni Fabrizio Maggio Jr. He goes by his middle name so that people don't confuse him with his father.  At first our investigators thought that Fabrizio did the races and his father went to the Olympics. But it was actually Fabrizio who went to Sochi. He was registered under his legal name of Giovanni, which  caused confusion. Again, there was no wrongdoing by the Freedonians except for befuddling some of the officials. As far as we know, this is not a crime.
BB: Fair enough. Lorenzo "The Razor" Dinova competed in an Albanian junior championship even though he was 37. That sounds an awful lot like Vanessa Mae competing in the Slovenian Junior Championships at age 34 or 35. 
Bob: The difference between Vanessa Mae and Lorenzo is that Vanessa Mae is not Slovenian, while Lorenzo has an Albanian great-grandparent. Lorenzo's maternal grandmother's mother emigrated from Albania to Italy, where she met her husband. She and her children later emigrated to the USA.
BB: Are you saying that even if I am 1/8th Albanian, I can compete in its national junior championships in my 30s? 
Bob: No. Here is another difference between Vanessa Mae and Lorenzo's races. Vanessa Mae was in a real junior race. She was the oldest competitor by far. Lorenzo was one of the youngest in his race.
BB: Hold on there! Junior races are for those under 21.
Bob: The junior race that Lorenzo competed in was the Albanian Senior Home Resident Championships. Residents of homes for senior citizens all over Albania compete in this race. There are two divisions: the senior division, which is for those over age 80, and the junior division, which is for those 80 and younger. Lorenzo was in the junior division.
BB: But Lorenzo is from New York and never lived in an Albanian senior citizens' home.
Bob: It turned out that there was a shortage of people scheduled to compete in that race last year. The Albanian Ski Federation put out an invitation to anyone with an Albanian ancestor to participate. So it turns out that Lorenzo qualified for Sochi fair and square.
BB: The last person that I will mention did not make it into our original article because our intrepid research team found about this after the article was published. Carlo "The Raptor" Spinelli competed in a race in Abu Dhabi in July. What went on there? It is over 40 C (104 F) in Abu Dhabi in the summer. Most of the summer races are in the Southern Hemisphere, not in a Middle Eastern desert.
Bob: We also checked out that race. It turns out that it was a special race to promote skiing in the Middle East, which was conducted in Abu Dhabi's newest indoor skiing hall.  Everyone who participated in that race was given FIS points. Through that race Mr. Spinelli earned enough points to be able to compete in Sochi. Again, there was no wrongdoing.
BB: Did any of the races that the Freedonians were in have non-existent competitors, or were results changed so that the Freedonians could qualify for Sochi?
Bob: No. We checked start and results lists and everything was correct. All of the competitors were indeed real, as were the results. Another difference between Vanessa Mae and Team Freedonia was that Vanessa Mae got to compete in Sochi, while the Freedonians were mistaken for the security team. The only one who actually got to be on skis was Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli because he was assigned to the Russian biathlon team.
BB: One more thing...How will the FIS stamp out falsifying results for recreational skiers who want to compete in the Olympics? This seems to be a very big problem.
Bob: It is. We are working on it to the best of our ability. But until we can find a way to end this corruption, we at the FIS will continue to always be right.
BB: Of course the FIS will always be right. Well, Bob, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview.
Bob: It was also a pleasure talking with the Blickbild, as always.
BB: And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.
The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters don't have to falsify their CVs or compete against non-existent applicants to get their jobs. They just have to be intrepid. 

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