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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