Monday, November 17, 2014

Levi 2014 Wrap-Up

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The first slalom races of the season have ended. The others will talk about Henrik Kristofferson and Tina Maze's victories, or about the racers who had their first top-10 and top-5 finishes (Nina Loeseth, Michelle Gisin, Alexander Khoroshilov, Sebastian-Foss Solevaag, and Daniel Yule), or how the French men flopped. We won't. Our intrepid reporters were in Levi for the weekend and they are bringing you, dear readers, their unique perspective on the events there. Let's find out what they have to say.

Never Give Up.  Adam Zampa of Slovakia was in 10th place after the first run. In the second run he was leading after the first two splits. Then he had a big mistake and had to hike up to make a gate. A little further down, he had another error and hiked up to make that gate. He ended up finishing the race in last place out of the 28 finishers but did not earn World Cup points because he failed to make the time limit. Most other racers would have given up and simply skied out after having to hike up a second time, but not Adam. He showed that he has the same intrepid fighting spirit as our reporters and research team. In fact, if Adam needs a job when he retires from ski racing, he can work for us. We can always use someone with his determination to never give up, even when the odds are hopeless.

Not a Sack of Potatoes. Austria's Rosina Schneeberger fell and tore her ACL and meniscus in Saturday's race. One of the course workers, who wishes to remain anonymous for a good reason, decided to be gallant and let Rosina ride on his back down the hill. He must have thought it would be quicker than waiting around for a sledge. The TV cameras showed Rosina getting a piggyback ride. What the cameras didn't show was the course worker dropping Rosina at the bottom of the hill. Talk about adding insult to injury! It looks like a certain course worker needs to spend some time in the gym lifting weights before attempting to carry anymore injured racers. We at the Blickbild wish Rosina a full recovery and hope to see her back on the race pistes.

The Jet Lag Express. After 26 hours of travel, the US team arrived in Levi on Thursday night. There were a lot of delays, which is to be expected in a trip with many stops. Instead of getting a direct flight to Helsinki, team officials decided to save money and booked a multi-stop trip. The team went from Denver to New York to Greenland to London to Frankfurt to Helsinki. Then they went from Helsinki to Levi on a reindeer sled, since all of the flights were booked. The miraculous thing about this trip was that nobody's luggage or equipment got lost. The US team's performance suffered because of the long trip and jet lag. Mikaela Shiffrin's 11th place finish was the best US result in Levi. A spokesman for the US team said next year the team will travel from Colorado to New York by stagecoach and then from New York to Finland on a ship. It would still take less time than this year's journey to Levi.

Bode Was Here. Even though US star Bode Miller did not compete in Levi, he was there in spirit and Ted Ligety's body. Ted's second run was very wild and reminiscent of Bode and his reckless style. Ted was all over the place and had multiple errors. It looked like he would straddle a gate or ski out at any time. But he somehow managed the fastest run up to that point. It turns out that Bode is having back surgery and will be out for the next two months. But never fear--Ted is well qualified to be his able replacement until he returns to action.

Reindeer Games. There were rumours floating around Levi that Henrik Kristoffersen's reindeer Lars was really a large dog with antlers strapped to his head. Race officials were worried about giving Henrik an actual reindeer, especially after overhearing him talking with his teammates about grilling reindeer steaks after the race to celebrate Norway's success in Levi. They fastened antlers on a large dog and got him ready for the award ceremony in case Henrik won. At the award ceremony Henrik was presented with the antlered dog. But, being Norwegian, Henrik knows what reindeer look like and could not be fooled that easily. The race officials were forced to give him a real reindeer. But he had to sign a contract stating that Lars could not be turned into steaks or ojlmsfjaegger.

What's With That Spot? A lot of racers had trouble at one point in the transition from the flatter first section to the steep middle part of the course in Levi. Mario Matt, Alexis Pinturault, Jean-Baptiste Grange, Adam Zampa, Reinfried Herbst, and others had to either slow down a lot, hike up to make a gate, or ski out in that same spot. There were many theories floating around Levi about that particular spot. The first was that it was cursed by one of the team witch doctors. But all of the team witch doctors denied cursing the course. Some people speculated that the skiers got momentarily sucked into a vortex, which forced them to slow down or make a massive error when they emerged from it. That theory was also dismissed, though it was just as plausible as a witch doctor's curse.  The most believable theory is that the Naughty Ninja Stone of Doom from Soelden (see this story) came to Levi and had "gone rogue." Since the stone had targeted Ted Ligety in Soleden,  the US Ski Team is the top suspect in putting the stone on the course to trip up the others. Was it strictly a coincidence that the US skiers did not have problems at that spot? The FIS is currently investigating whether the US Ski Team had anything to do with the stone going after everyone, or if it decided to go rogue on its own. Our intrepid reporters will bring you the results of that investigation when it is complete.

Witch Doctor Review. No Blickbild race review would be complete without rating the team witch doctors. France's Dr. Djibuku may have a shorter-than-expected time in France based on the performances in Levi. Alexis Pinturault and Jean-Baptiste Grange did not make the second run. The top French finisher was Julien Lizeroux in 19th place followed by Victor Muffat-Jeandet, who was tied for 21st. Someone needs to get out the box of Les Wheaties. Germany's Dr. Mabongo and Norway's new witch doctor, Dr. Mwafume, were the top two witch doctors in Levi. Dr. Mwafume worked with both the Norwegian men and women in Levi and his efforts resulted in Nina Loeseth placing 5th in her race and Henrik Kristoffersen winning with Sebastian Foss Solevaag taking 4th place in the men's race. The only negative was that Leif Kristian Haugen did not finish the second run. Dr. Mabongo only works with the German men's technical team now. All three of the German men finished in the top 15: Felix Neureuther was 3rd with back problems, Fritz Dopfer 6th, and Philipp Schmid 14th. When asked what he gave to Felix to help with his back, Dr. Mabongo simply said, "A good witch doctor never reveals his secrets." We'll look forward to the next witch doctor showdown in two weeks.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive report. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Even our reporters can tell the difference between a reindeer and a large dog with antlers.

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