Friday, December 26, 2014

Lindsey Vonn Blames Val d'Isere Course Slippers for Fall

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Last Sunday in Val d'Isere Lindsey Vonn blamed poor course slipping for her fall in the Super-G race, which prevented her from tying Annemarie Moser-Proell's record for most World Cup wins. She even complained to FIS women's race director Atle Skaardal about it. The others have reported this story, which we would normally avoid like a vegetarian would a steak house. But we have our unique perspective on it. One of our intrepid reporters scored an interview with Mr. Skardaal. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: What was your reaction to Lindsey Vonn's complaint about the course not being slipped properly?
Skardaal: Before or after I finished laughing?
BB: It looks like you just answered the question. Did any of the other racers mention that the course was improperly slipped?
Skardaal: No. In fact, the race winner, Elisabeth Goergl, said that the course was great and that the course slippers did an excellent job. So did Anna Fenninger, who was second. Nobody else said anything about the quality of the course slipping.
BB: In your opinion, was the course slipped correctly?
Skardaal: I would have to say yes. We have people slipping the course between racers and also during the TV breaks. They want to ensure that each racer has as clean a course as possible.
BB: Do you think that the quality of course slippers now is worse now than in the past?
Skardaal: Absolutely not!  Course slippers now are just as good, if not better, than those in the past. They must meet extremely high standards to work a World Cup race.
BB: Going back to Ms. the World Championships in Schladming last year, she said that she landed in a patch of soft snow after a jump and injured her knee. In Val d'Isere she  hit a patch of soft snow, which made her fall, slide out, and bruise her elbow. Both times it was during a Super-G race. Do you sense a pattern here?
Skardaal: What do you mean?
BB: The ski world now knows about the Stone of Doom, which caused Ted Ligety to have a 10th place finish in Soelden. (see this story ). In addition to this magic rock, is there also a  patch of soft snow with super powers which travels from place to place and specifically targets Lindsey Vonn during Super-G races?
Skardaal: It does seem coincidental that she is the only one who has commented about patches of soft snow in both Schladming and Val d'Isere when nobody else did. But I don't know of any wandering patches of soft snow. Anyway, the course slippers in Schladming were Austrian and the ones in Val d'Isere were French, so I don't think that there was any conspiracy.
BB: Do you think that you will require the course workers to slip a wider part of the piste so that Ms. Vonn does not hit patches of soft snow when she goes out of bounds?
Skardaal: No. Our course workers are only required to slip the part of the course between the blue lines.
BB: I see. Now let's suppose for a moment that Ms. Vonn has a disability which causes her hit patches of soft snow that nobody else can find. Wouldn't you and your colleagues at the FIS do everything they possibly could to accommodate her special needs? Workplaces are required to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees.
Skardaal: Lindsey Vonn is not disabled, so no, we don't have to make any special accommodations. She went outside the course line and hit some soft snow. It can happen to anyone. We will not change our methods of slipping courses just to please someone who lost a race.
BB: In other words, you will not slip the whole ski run? You will just have the course workers slip the part between the blue lines?
Skardaal: That is correct. Maybe she needs to pay attention to the tricky gates during the course inspection. Then she would stay on course between the lines.
BB: Speaking of course inspection, Ms. Vonn also mentioned that the Super-G racers only had one chance to inspect the course in Val d'Isere. How many course inspections do the athletes normally have for a race?
Skardaal: One.
BB: You just said the racers only get one course inspection. Did I hear you correctly?
Skardall: Yes you did. They have one course inspection.
BB: Wait a minute! Then why would Ms. Vonn say that she only had one chance to inspect the course before the race?
Skardaal: Who knows? Lizz Goergl was not upset about only having one course inspection. In fact, she took the full time to thoroughly inspect the tricky gates and it paid off for her. Most of the others also did a full inspection. It is a racer's responsibility to inspect the course and know where to speed up or slow down. There is plenty of time even with only one inspection.
BB: So the FIS is not going to increase the number of course inspections for races?
Skardaal: No. We have always gone with one course inspection per speed race and that system has worked very well for many years. Racers in the technical disciplines also get one inspection per run to check out the course setting.
BB: What if it turns out that Ms. Vonn is a slow learner and needs more than one inspection? Doesn't the FIS need to accommodate her learning disability?
Skardaal: She does not have a learning disability. She may be geographically challenged, but that applies to most Americans. But not knowing how to find a country on a map does not allow an athlete to have extra course inspections. Otherwise, you will have every athlete in the World Cup pretending that they can't find Tajikistan or Equatorial Guinea on a map just to get extra inspections. Then they will never get the chance to actually race because they will spend the whole day inspecting the course.
BB: We noticed you and Lindsey chatting for quite a long time. Was there anything else that she was upset about besides the course slipping and only having one inspection?
Skardaal: Yes. She received a rather low artistic score for her fall and was very unhappy about it.
BB: Our records show that she received an artistry score of 6.2 for her fall. It did seem a bit low, but maybe you can explain it.
Skardaal: I reviewed the scores from the judges and they were all fair. Her scores from the six artistry judges were 6.4, 6.4, 6.3, 6.1, 6.0 and 6.0. One of the 6.4s and 6.0s was thrown out and the average of the four middle scores was 6.2. As you can see from the closeness of the scores, there was agreement and the head judge did  not have to get involved. The US and Slovakian judges gave her the 6.4s, the French judge gave the 6.3, the Italian judge gave the 6.1, and the Swiss and Hungarian judges gave the 6.0s.
BB: What were her deductions?
Skardaal: She incurred the standard out of bounds deduction of 0.5 points and the standard 1.0 deduction for a fall. There was a deduction for lack of originality and also one for not getting up quickly when there was no leg injury.
BB: Evidently she tried to appeal for some originality bonus because her fall was like a baseball slide. 
Skardaal: Have you ever watched baseball? It makes curling and snooker seem like the most exciting sports ever. The judges were obviously not impressed by Ms. Vonn trying to bring baseball into skiing. The artistry judges prefer a more classical or graceful style of falling like Patrick Kueng in Beaver Creek or Max Franz at the Olympics, or something very original like Felix Neureuther's shoulder roll in Levi in 2013. Spins and one-ski work get bonus points. Sliding on your hip doesn't.
BB: Our intrepid researchers also heard that Ms. Vonn was traumatized by the score of 6.2. If you multiply that number by 10, it equals 62, which is Annemarie Moser-Proell's record for World Cup wins by a woman. She is prone to depression and that number could have set her over the edge because she fell and failed to tie Moser-Proell's record. Couldn't the judges have adjusted their scores slightly to prevent this? After all, Ms. Vonn's records are her legacy and are the only way she will be remembered 
Skardaal: Our judges are fair and neutral. They don't make adjustments to favor one ski racer over another. If Lindsey Vonn is going to fall, she should do so in a more graceful and original manner. Then she will get a higher score. But it will really take a lot to match the record scores of Felix Neureuther and Patrick Kueng. Felix and Patrick set the bar so high, I don't think that anyone will be able to catch them.
BB: Wow, you really are harsh! But I guess you must be that way to be fair to everyone. One more question. Did you also tell Ms. Vonn that her dog Leo could not be in the photo with her cow?
Skardaal: I had nothing to do with that. You'll have to ask the Val d'Isere race officials.
BB: We will have to do that. (short pause) Did you tell Ms. Vonn that you would take care of her complaints about the course slipping, inspection, and low artistry score?
Skardaal: I had to. Even though I believe her complaints came about because she was looking for excuses for failing to stay on course, I must still listen to them. I also need to think about future repercussions and tread carefully. The last time Lindsey Vonn landed in some soft snow, she threatened to go to war with Slovenia. A herd of elephants almost starved to death and 25,000 men from the first wave who tried to invade Slovenia disappeared somewhere between Moscow and Siberia. They still have not been found. (see this story)
BB: And they may never be found. Well,  it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview and your insight into course slipping and inspections. I'm sure it was just as interesting for our readers as it was for me. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters can conduct interviews with zero prior inspections.

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.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Not Your Usual Ski Race Prediction Game

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Our intrepid reporters don't seem to be as productive as they were in the past. We sent a team of our intrepid researchers to figure out why. Suddenly, our research team also took a big turn for the worse and stopped coming up with information for the reporters. What was going on? We finally hired an independent research team, even though their researchers are not nearly as intrepid as ours. But what choice did we have? It turns out that our reporters and researchers were very busy..............inventing and playing games! We would normally not put up with that nonsense because our employees are being paid to report the things that the others don't dare to print, not play games. But in this case, the game that they came up with was so good, we plan to ask others in the ski world to play it starting next season. Here to explain how this game works is one of our reporters, who was also one of the inventors. She wanted to be called Mary for this interview. Let's find out what she has to say.

BB: Tell our readers about this game. 
Mary: Each player starts off with 10 racers--
BB: Whoa! That sounds just like Fantasy Ski Racer.
Mary: No, it is different. At the beginning of the season each player picks 10 racers in each discipline. For example, for the men's slalom a player will pick 10 slalom racers. He will keep these 10 racers for the whole season.
BB: Are the players supposed to figure out who will finish first through tenth? It seems that you are copying Fantasy Ski Racer.
Mary: Not at all. Our game has a twist. Of the 10 racers that a player picks for the season, at least two must be ranked outside the top 30 on the World Cup Start List (WCSL) in that particular discipline, and at least two must be ranked from 16 to 30 on the WCSL. But you don't pick which racer will be 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. 
BB: So what do you do?
Mary: Wait until the race is over. If the racers that you chose make it into the top 10, you get points. You get 10 points for 1st place, 5 for 2nd and 3rd places, 3 for 4th and 5th places and 1 for places 6 to 10. But if one of the racers ranked 16 to 30 is in the top 10, the points are doubled. You get triple points if one of your athletes outside the top 30 makes it into the top 10. 
BB: I see. What happens if one of your athletes is injured or changes position on the WCSL?
Mary: If one of the athletes gets injured, you are allowed to get another one. Also, if you have an athlete ranked outside the top 15 or 30 who moves up, you must pick another one so that you have at least two from those positions and get rid of one that you already have.
BB: I see. It sounds pretty straightforward, getting points for how well the racers you picked perform. But I see one drawback. If you are picking and keeping track of 10 racers in each discipline for both men and women, that is 100 racers. That seems awfully complex!
Mary: We will have full-time game administrators who will keep track of the points and the racers' rankings and players' points. They will have all of the data on a computer and will make backups.
BB: I hope they're not using their work computers.
Mary: Uh......of course not.
BB: So that's all there is to it? Pick a pool of 10 racers and you get points for their performance.
Mary: No. There are also some bonuses and penalties.
BB: Bonuses? That sounds like the PPP game in one of the big Facebook ski racing groups. And penalties?
Mary:  We have both bonuses and penalties. I'll talk about the bonuses first. The first one is the artistry bonus. If one of your 10 racers gets the most artistry points for a fall or unique move, you get 5 points. It doesn't matter if they finish or not. Let's say that you had Patrick Kueng as one of your 10 racers for men's downhill. Even though he didn't finish the downhill race in Beaver Creek, he got the top marks for artistry. Anyone who had him as one of his 10 racers would get an extra 5 points added to his score.
BB: Interesting. That is one way to get some extra points in your game.
Mary: The next bonus is for racers who come from a team without a witch doctor.
BB: If you have an Austrian as one of your 10 racers, you would automatically get a bonus if they had a top 10 finish. 
Mary: No. Austria is the exception because that team is so good it doesn't need a witch doctor. But if any of your racers from a team without a witch doctor finish in the top 10, you get a two point bonus per racer. I know that the USA doesn't have a witch doctor because they don't believe in voodoo. So any US racer in the top 10 gives the player a two point bonus. It's the same for other teams without witch doctors.
BB: What about teams that are under a witch doctor's curse? Sweden was under a curse last season for kidnapping Germany's witch doctor. 
Mary: Hmmmm....we didn't think of that situation. I'll have to meet with the others who helped to create our game and see how that fits in. I would imagine it would be the same as not having a witch doctor. I'll have to get back to you on that one. But the third bonus is for racers from teams who have trainers from the new Austrian Convicts to Coaches program.  (see this story)
BB: That sounds like a rule that would benefit the USA. They seem to hire a lot of Austrian and Swiss trainers with questionable pasts. 
Mary: They do. But everyone deserves a second chance in life. For every athlete in the top 10 from your racers, you get a one point bonus if he or she has a trainer from that program.
BB: Fair enough.  All of these bonuses will keep the game administrators busy. Will they have time to get their real work done? The game creators are supposed to be researching and reporting, not playing games. 
Mary: Of course this will be done during their time off. It won't take up as much time as you think because one of us is married to a software engineer who came up with a program to calculate the points, bonuses, and penalties. One of the administrators just enters the names at the beginning of the season. The program has also been written so that players whose racers move up into the top 30 or top 15 are notified so that they can make the necessary changes before the next race. This will be done on a personal computer instead of a work one.
BB: Tell our readers about the different penalties.
Mary: The first one is what we call the "prima donna penalty." There are actually two parts to it. The first is that a player who picks a racer who does not wear the normal team uniform speed suit, and that racer places in the top 10, will have five points deducted from his score.
BB: What about a young racer doing a World Cup race but wearing his team's Europa Cup suit?
Mary: That is okay as long as it is an official team uniform.
BB: It sounds like you are discriminating against Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso, who wear their own speed suits. 
Mary: And what is wrong with the official team uniforms? Why are Lindsey and Julia so ashamed of their country that  they refuse to wear the official speed suit? But remember, if they get the most artistry points in the race, the player will get a bonus. Also the USA doesn't have a witch doctor, so those bonus points can offset an athlete refusing to wear the official team race suit. The second part of the prima donna rule is that racers who train separately from their team can result in a three point penalty for a player.
BB: What about racers from very tiny countries like Liechtenstein? For example, Tina Weirather trains with the Swiss team. Chemmy Alcott trained with Norway because the British Federation didn't support her. 
Mary: Those who train with others because their teams are tiny, or because they don't have proper support from their national federations, are exempt. Larisa Yurkiw was dropped by her federation and trains on her own. Tina Maze trains by herself because she didn't get support from SloSki. Adam Zampa trains with the Kostelics and Croatian team. This rule is more for racers from the powerhouse countries who think that they are too good to train with their teammates. There are some Austrians and Americans who train separately instead of with their teams. They obviously realize that there is no I in team.
BB: That sounds fair I guess. Are there any other penalties?
Mary: Yes, there is a second penalty. If the racer is wearing a speed suit that would give him or her an artistic impression deduction, the player gets a two point deduction.
BB: Any player who has a Finnish racer who finishes in the top 10 gets an automatic deduction for those speed suits. The same for the French or Julia Mancuso with her patchwork suit. 
Mary: Like the FIS, we believe that the athletes should look good. They are supposed to be in a ski race, not Clown College! (see this link)
BB: But the racers don't pick their suits, except for a select few. The national federations do. 
Mary: Once our game takes off, the national federations will give their racers better speed suits. The federations don't want to be guilty of causing players to get a deduction because their athletes had horrid speed suits.
BB: I see. Do you know what you will be calling your game?
Mary: We don't have a name for it yet, though we are looking for suggestions for a catchy one that people will remember. But we are hoping that it will be bigger than Fantasy Ski Racer or the PPP game. Of course the Blickbild will be promoting it.
BB: Of course we will. Our employees came up with it after all! The Blickbild's reporters are not only intrepid, they are very creative. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview and for telling us about your game. I'm sure it will be a big hit next season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters should get a big deduction for shirking their duties and playing a game, but a bonus for inventing it.

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.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

North America Race Weekend #2 Wrap-Up

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

There was so much action in Lake Louise and Beaver Creek last weekend, it was difficult for even our intrepid reporters to keep up with it all. We are going to avoid talking about Lindsey Vonn's comeback like we would crossing a minefield because the others have already reported it to death as in that dead horse has been beaten until it is dust. Anyway, we will talk about the things that the others missed because they were too busy tripping over each other reporting about Vonn's comeback. Let's find out what our reporters have to say about last weekend's races.

Racing with Heart. We are going to be serious for a moment. Yes, even we can be serious once in a while. Canada's Larisa Yurkiw was 4th in the second downhill race in Lake Louise. She was faster than race winner Lindsey Vonn in the first half of the course. If she had an earlier start number and a cleaner course, she may have easily won the race. But nonetheless, Larisa skied her heart out and had the run of her life. Unlike the racers from the bigger teams, Larisa had to overcome obstacles that were the equivalent of the Biblical 10 Plagues. She came back from a major injury and was dropped by her federation. (see this story)  Not only that, Alpine Canada placed what they thought would be impossible requirements on her to qualify for the Sochi Olympics. Larisa exceeded those requirements. If we had an Intrepid Spirit Award, Larisa would be the runaway winner. Larisa, if you ever need a job when you retire, we will hire you in an instant.

If One Is Good...The question that ski racing fans everywhere have been asking is why there are two women's downhill races in Lake Louise but only one for the men? We asked random people in the stands watching the races to see if they knew. Here are some of their replies: 1. Women are slower learners than men and therefore need two downhill races instead of just one.  2. Because it's so exciting to see the same people win in Lake Louise every time.   3. If one downhill is good, then two must be better.  4. The FIS wants to make sure that the big gliders have a chance to win a race.  5. It gives team witch doctors a double opportunity to practice their spells before the European speed races. 6. It is comforting to know who the winner will be before the race even starts. There are too many surprises in life, so the FIS is helping ski racing fans keep their lives predictable. Well, it looks like we will never know the real answer as to why there are two women's downhill races in Lake Louise every year.

Wanted: Speed Suit Designer. France started a trend at the Schladming World Championships with hideously ugly speed suits. We have already commented on Finland's racing suits and how they were designed by someone painting their pyschedelic acid trip onto cloth. Julia Mancuso, already known for her ever-changing hair color, decided to enter the competition for the worst speed suit last weekend. The suits that she wore in Lake Louise were obviously designed by a person whose last job was making Clown College outfits. I can understand Finland having bizarre suits because it has a small team and wants its racers to be noticed. Maybe Julia felt the same after being totally ignored by the media in Lake Louise and wanted to do something to draw attention to herself. Or she could have possibly thought that having a weird speed suit would give her artistic style points. She actually received negative points for her suits because the artistic judging panel in Lake Louise preferred a more simple and classic look. The plain red Italian suits turned out to be the judges' favorites.

Spotted. Our eagle-eyed reporters spotted Lindsey Vonn's father, Alan Kildow, in the audience. The logical explanation was that he was there to watch his daughter ski. But that was not the full story. First of all, Lindsey needed someone to hold up her dog Leo for the cameras during and after the race. None of her sisters were available, so Mr. Kildow volunteered to babysit Leo. It turns out there was another reason for Mr. Kildow to be in Lake Louise. He was recruiting volunteers for a new force to invade both Slovenia and Switzerland. Tina Maze of Slovenia won the first downhill race in Lake Louise and Swiss star Lara Gut won the Super-G for the second year in a row. Lara's win was especially intolerable because it proved that a petite skier with an imperfect run can win in Lake Louise with or without Lindsey in the race. Judging from how the last invasion force he recruited fared (see this story), Mr. Kildow and whoever he recruits for his new army should stay in North America. By the way, nobody has heard anything about the original Slovenia invasion force since it boarded a train in Moscow for somewhere in Siberia. At least the elephants are safe in Austria.

Artistry Winners. The hands down winner was Switzerland's Patrick Kueng in the Beaver Creek downhill. The judges were so impressed by his save, they gave him a perfect score of 10 plus a 7.5 point artistry and originality bonus. Patrick earned most of his bonus points for his one-footed landing with his back leg out at a 90 degree angle. It was obvious that he had either figure skating or ballet training sometime in his life. He misjudged a compression and ended up with a move that will be hard to top this season. See this video. Vincent Kriechmayr of Austria tried to imitate Patrick the next day in the Super-G race, when he went into a compression too quickly and also landed on one leg. He scored an 8.3. While he did come down on one ski, and had his leg out at 90 degrees when he landed, he also fell and lost points.  See this video.  Marianne Abderhalden got originality points for falling just before the finish of the first Lake Louise downhill and sliding in on her backside without missing a gate. Her score was 7.9

Best Witch Doctor. No Blickbilld report would be complete without mentioning witch doctors. France's Dr. Djibuku was the best witch doctor by far. He seems to be the hot commodity now and left Germany's Dr. Mabongo in the dust. French star Alexis Pinturault was 3rd in the Beaver Creek Super-G race and showed that he is not a one-hit Super-G wonder. He tried using the witch doctor that Head provided for him in Levi, but ended up with a DNF and came back to Dr. Djibuku. The next day in the giant slalom race, France had 4 finishers in the top 15: Pinturault (2nd), Victor Muffat-Jeandet (5th), Thomas Fanara (6th) and Mathieu Faivre (11th). The good witch doctor got his boys eating their Les Wheaties again. Norway's witch doctor also did well because Kjetil Jansrud was 1st in the downhill, 2nd in the Super-G and 15th in the GS. Kjetil's teammate Leif Christian Haugen was 12th in the GS. Germany's Dr. Mabongo did not have such good luck. Even though Felix Neureuther (8th in his GS comeback) and Fritz Dopfer (10th), were in the top 10 in the GS, their teammates Linus Strasser and Dominik Schwaiger failed to finish the second run. With technical races coming up in Are next weekend, it will be a good head-to-head test of the witch doctors.

And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive report. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Aren't you glad you read our report instead of the same old stuff that everyone else has written?

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.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Secret to the Austrian Women's Success

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The Austrian women have been been on fire this season, taking 7 out of the 12 possible podium places in the first four races. What is the secret to Austria's success this season? Did you like the alliteration in the previous sentence? The others are currently talking about Lindsey Vonn's big comeback in Lake Louise and whether her dog Leo will accompany her on the race piste. But not us. One of intrepid reporters scored an interview with Austrian women's head trainer Juergen Kriechbaum. He reveals the secrets of Austria's success and a few other things. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: The Austrian women have been on a real hot streak this season, getting on the podium in the first four races of the season and winning three of them. What is the secret to their success?
Kriechbaum: The team is very close-knit and the ladies all support each other. They are good friends on and off the race course.
BB: Is it true that your superstars have to train with the rest of the team and can't go off on their own like the US ski racers?
Kriechbaum: That's right. Our veterans, like Lizz Goergl, Kathrin Zettel, and Anna Fenninger, are  role models for the younger racers coming up. The Austrian Ski Federation (OeSV) gives our racers everything they could possibly want or need to help them succeed. Why would they want to go off on their own? They are training with their friends and the younger girls get advice from their more experienced teammates. It's a win-win situation.
BB: Give us an example of what the racers would want or need.
Kriechbaum: They get the best trainers of course, service men, massage therapists, sports psychologists, gym equipment, and food. The OeSV also provides bikes for summer training and any clothing that the racers would like. For example, if one of the ladies wants a new bikini for a summer holiday on the beach, the OeSV would give her the money to buy one. We want our athletes to focus on their skiing and nothing else.
BB: Are you saying that you want the Austrian team to be a group of skiing robots?
Kriechbaum: Au contraire! Our women are anything but robots. Marlies Schild was half of the World Cup's greatest power couple. Regina Sterz is married and several of our racers have boyfriends and a life outside of skiing. Did you see Eva-Maria Brem's reaction when she won her first World Cup race in Aspen? She is definitely not a robot. Neither is Kathrin Zettel, who placed 3rd in the race that Eva-Maria won, who was thrilled for both herself and her teammate. Robots cannot express emotions.
BB: That is correct. Going back to what you said about the OeSV providing your athletes with the best food...Is it true that Kjetil Jansrud gave your team some of his grandmother's ojlmsfjaegger? Could that be the secret of Austria's success this season?
Kriechbaum: What is ojlmsfjaegger?
BB: It's a special treat that Norwegians eat on their birthdays. They are cubes of pickled reindeer heart covered in a special smoked salmon and chocolate sauce. Kjetil and his teammate Henrik Kristoffersen have combined to win three out of the four men's races this season. I know for a fact that Kjetil eats a lot of it, even when it isn't someone's birthday.
Kriechbaum: That must be the weird-smelling stuff that Lotte Smitest Sejersted gave out to all of the other racers on her birthday. I don't think that anyone actually ate it.
BB: Now for the question that the whole ski world has been asking about your team...Did you get a witch doctor in the off-season?
Kriechbaum: No! Absolutely not! We are Austria and we don't need a witch doctor. How could you even think such a thing?
BB: Other teams have been acquiring witch doctors. In fact, there is such a high demand for them that the FIS has set up a special program to train people to be witch doctors because the Congo no longer issues visas for them. 
Kriechbaum: Let the other teams get all of the witch doctors that they want. We will never get one because we are Austria. We win the Nations Cup every year without any voodoo magic. Our natural talent and hard work give us victories.
BB: Do you think that Austria is setting a bad precedent by not having a team witch doctor?
Kriechbaum: Not at all.
BB: Let me put it another way. If the demand for witch doctors for ski teams drops, then there will be too many in their home countries. This will cause mass unemployment in those countries and cause their economies to crash. Do you really want to be responsible for the economic collapse of African nations?
Kriechbaum: I hardly think that our team not having a witch doctor will cause economic collapse in Africa.
BB: It only took one case of Ebola to start an epidemic. I bet you will feel horribly guilty when you read about how African countries fall into an economic depression because you think that your team is too good for a witch doctor.  (short pause)  One more question...Do you think that Lindsey Vonn's dog Leo should be allowed to participate in races with her?
Kriechbaum: Why would anyone want their dog racing with them? Doesn't he have a bad leg?
BB: He does. But he goes everywhere with her and could suffer major psychological trauma if he is separated from her for even a minute. That is why she brings him to her interviews, red carpet appearances, and even to the toilet. 
Kriechbaum: That is crazy! Anyway he can't race with her because he is male and wouldn't be allowed in women's races. I don't see why anyone in their right mind would bring a dog onto a race course.
BB: Marcel Hirscher had his dog Whitey with him. (see this story)
Kriechbaum: That was an entirely different situation. Whitey was Marcel's guide dog before he got eye surgery. She served a specific purpose. Leo seems to have no real purpose except to serve as a good prop for Frau Vonn to score points with her fans who are dog lovers.
BB: Wow, you are very unsympathetic! First you don't care about being the guilty party if the economy of the Congo goes belly up because you refuse to get a witch doctor for your team. Then you say that Leo Vonn has no specific purpose in life. Have you forgotten that Lindsey suffered from divorce, tax problems, belly aches, bad hair days, losing races because of the wind, and depression? Leo could be helping her get over those things. 
Kriechbaum: All I know is that my racers would never bring a dog onto the course with them. Judging by the results in Soelden, Levi, and Aspen, they are doing quite well all on their own.
BB: I agree with that. The Austrian ladies are on a tear in the technical disciplines. I hope they continue to do well and I hope that they also have great results in the speed disciplines this season. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview and for your insight into what makes the Austrian team so great. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We don't need a staff witch doctor. But we would get one if it helps to keep the Congo's economy afloat. 

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