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. 

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