Sunday, January 4, 2015

Athlete Profile: Travis Ganong

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The USA's Travis Ganong is not as flashy as his teammate Bode Miller, but he has quietly and consistently moved up the downhill rankings. He is now in the top group of men's downhill racers. Travis just got his first World Cup win in Santa Caterina last weekend. One of our intrepid reporters had the chance to interview Travis while he was watching the slalom race in Kuehtai. Let's get to know him a little better...

BB: First of all, congratulations on your first World Cup win!
Ganong: Thank you.
BB: I see that your teammates didn't shave off your beard to celebrate your win.
Ganong: The beard stays. My teammates can give me a funny haircut or shave my head, but they know not to touch the beard.
BB: You and teammate Steve Nyman each have a win this season. What is the secret of the US men's team's success? Are you eating something different this year?
Ganong: No. We eat the same things we have always eaten.
BB: You didn't break into Kjetil Jansrud's stash of ojlmsfjaegger?
Ganong: His what?
BB: Ojlmsfjaegger. They are cubes of pickled reindeer heart in a special smoked salmon and chocolate sauce. Norwegians eat them on birthdays.
Ganong: That sounds awful! But that does explain why Kjetil is leading the overall standings this season. He's probably trying to get away from someone chasing him with them.
BB: I happen to know that his grandmother makes very good ojlmsfjaegger. (short pause) Does the US men's team now have a secret witch doctor?
Ganong: No. Why would we need a witch doctor?
BB: A lot of ski teams now have witch doctors. A witch doctor can really help a team by making special potions to help a ski racer become more physically and mentally fit. They can also put curses on the opposition.
Ganong: Wouldn't some of those potions violate the policy on performance enhancing drugs?
BB: Evidently not. So far the FIS has allowed witch doctors' potions.
Ganong: I see. But no, our team doesn't have a witch doctor. I think that our success comes from self-belief and  good training, not from voodoo magic.
BB: Think what you want. But witch doctors have helped other teams. Back to your maiden win. Do you feel a little weird because you won a women's race?
Ganong: It was a men's race. There were no women in the field.
BB: But you started at the women's start, therefore it was a women's race.
Ganong: The start was the reserve start and it was moved there because of the weather. It was a very tough course. I can't imagine women being able to ski it well.
BB: I won't argue with you because that would be poor journalism. Let's just say that we will have to disagree on Santa Caterina being a women's race because of the start and it being on a shorter course. Let's move on to another subject...your relationship with Canadian racer Marie-Michele "Mitch" Gagnon. What initially attracted you to her?
Ganong: She is very beautiful. After we talked, we realized that we have a lot in common.
BB: Fair enough. So your attraction to her had nothing to do with your last names being anagrams of each other's?
Ganong: No. But we figured that out very quickly.
BB: I'm sure you did. Now that Marlies Schild has retired, do you think that you and Mitch should be Alpine skiing's power couple?
Ganong: Why not! Benni and Marlies will be hard to top, but Mitch and I would do our best to fill their shoes.
BB: If, or when, you and Mitch get married, will she change her name to yours or will she be Marie-Michele Ganong-Gagnon?
Ganong: We haven't thought about that. But I think that Marie-Michele Ganong-Gagnon would be too much of a tongue twister. By the time a commentator said that whole name, Mitch would have finished her run. Maybe we will really confuse the fans and scramble the letters in our last names into something new like Gannog or even Noggan.
BB: Wouldn't you feel guilty for confusing the fans and racing commentators by doing that?
Ganong: No. In fact, it would be a lot of fun.
BB: Maybe you and Mitch could keep your last names and give each of your kids a different last name that are all anagrams. 
Ganong: Mitch and I want to have children when we retire from racing. But we haven't discussed their names yet. I'll have to talk with her about giving each child a different last name. I'm sure that she would go along with that.
BB: I can imagine her going along with it. She seems like a woman who likes to have fun.
Ganong: She is. That's one reason why I love her.
BB: What are your goals for Vail?
Ganong: Hopefully to win a medal or two. I hope that Mitch can also win a medal.
BB: Good luck in Vail and congratulations again on your first World Cup win. May it be the start of many more wins. 
Ganong: Thank you.
BB: Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview. We at the Blickbild wish you even more success this season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

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