Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2014/15 Season Awards

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Now that the season has ended, it's time to give out our end of season awards. Our intrepid research team has compiled lots of statistics and kept meticulous records to make sure that our information is accurate. Our winners won't get crystal globes or an animal, but they will get plenty of international recognition. Without further ado, let's present our end of season awards for the 2014/15 season

Best Artistic Impression. We thought that this one would go to Patrick Kueng for his beautiful save in which he lands on one foot in Beaver Creek after misjudging a compression (see this video). He earned a score of 17.5 points out of 10, which broke Felix Neureuther's record of 17 points last season in Levi. We thought that this would be an unbreakable record. But just as Marcel Hirscher came from behind in Meribel to win the slalom globe, Julien Lizeroux waited until the last race in finals to earn this award with a record mark of 20 points out of 10 (see this video). He earned originality bonus points for catapulting out the start house to a perfect forward roll to straddling the first gate. Nobody had ever done that move before. He also got a difficulty bonus for keeping his skis on during the somersault and another bonus for doing a move that will be named after him.  Benjamin Raich and Forerunner #3, both in the Vail world championship slalom race, earned the third most artistry points. They had 14.2 points, Benni for his straddle of a slalom pole to a 360 degree turn and slalom Forerunner #3 (we know his real name, but everyone knows him as Forerunner #3) for coming out of both skis and skiing down on his boots, turning, and coming to a controlled stop with beautiful arm position.

Most Disappointing Races. It was a tie between the Kitzbuehel downhill and the Meribel women's Super-G races. Kitzbuehel was celebrating the 75th anniversary of the legendary Hahnenkamm downhill race and the movie "Streif: One Hell of a Ride." Needless to say, the real race this season was nothing like the movie. Because of a patch of fog that refused to leave (even worse than the later Bansko Fog Vortex), the race started about 3 gates before the finish line. It was even shorter than a slalom run and took less time than Usain Bolt takes to run 100 meters. If you blinked your eyes, you missed it. The Meribel course was flatter than a pancake and  something that a beginner could do after a week of lessons. OK, the beginner may have to traverse from side to side instead of going straight down, but he could still make it down without a problem. The women's Super-G was also very short, about that of  a typical giant slalom run, and was more like a straight tuck and glide course rather than one which required a modicum of technical ability. So much for Super-G being super giant slalom and more for it being a short course downhill.

Best At Proving the Naysayers Wrong. The Austrian men's speed team gets this one. After the Austrian men netted zero medals in downhill at the Vail world championships, the ski blogosphere was lit up with almost everyone saying that the Austrian men were washed up and were no threat to win any subsequent races. Some ski bloggers even said that the Austrian speed team would be spending a lot of time in the salt mines instead of being able to go on a spring holiday. But in Saalbach the Austrians swept the podium in the downhill and then they repeated that feat a week later in Garmisch. While order has been restored to the ski racing world with the Austrian men back on top, the salt miners are also happy that the ski racers won't be taking their jobs.

Best Excuse For Not Winning. Lindsey Vonn wins this one hands down. Her Comeback From the Brink of Death Season also included new and different excuses from her usual ones about fog, wind, unsafe conditions, and belly aches. Her public relations people have been very busy crafting creative excuses for when she did not win a race. Ms. Vonn had three excuses which all tied for the season's best and most original. The first was that she only got one course inspection for the Super-G race in Val d'Isere. Our intrepid research team scrambled to find information about the number of course inspections that racers normally get and the answer was one. The only explanation is that she is a slow learner and requires at least a week to train at a venue to get a proper advantage over her competitors. Excuse number two was that the downhill course in St. Moritz was too easy. It was a very simple course, especially in the first section, where it was so flat the racers needed cross country skis before switching to their downhill ones. If it really was so easy, she would have won the race skiing backward on one ski while blindfolded.  The last excuse was that the snow at the downhill race in Vail was different that how it was in training. She never explained exactly how it was different, so again our intrepid research team did the work that nobody else dared to do. Our researchers found out that the snow on race day was a different shade of white than it was in training. Ms. Vonn evidently has very sensitive vision and can detect subtle differences in shades of white that mere mortals cannot.

Most Haunted by the Stone of Doom. That award goes to Ted Ligety, whose hopes for wins in both Soelden and Kranjska Gora were derailed by the Naughty Ninja Stone of Doom. We first reported about the stone just after the season-opening race in Soelden. Even though most of Ted's countrymen can't find Slovenia on a map, the stone managed to find its way to Kranjska Gora. It hid on the course and ambushed Ted just when he least expected it. The Naughty Stone was also in Vail, where it used its super Ninja powers to prevent Lindsey Vonn from winning a medal in the world championship downhill race. It was so stealthy that Lindsey didn't even feel anything as she ran over it. Now that is a real Ninja stone! There were rumours that the Naughty Ninja Stone was really on the course in Beaver Creek to get Ted one more time but it got confused about the race calendar. We will send a team of our intrepid researchers to find the stone and ask it if it meant to get Ted or Lindsey in Vail. 

Top Witch Doctor. Grandma Jansrud. Yes, this is a surprise because she is technically not a witch doctor. She is a Norwegian grandmother. All season it was very close between Germany's Dr. Mabongo and France's Dr. Djibuku. The lead kept changing with each race and it was going to come down to finals for who would be the season's top witch doctor. But in the last few races of the season the Norwegian men came on strong. At first it was attributed to the new Norwegian team witch doctor, Dr. Mwafume. But it turned out that Norway's secret weapon, as usual, was Grandma Jansrud's ojlmsfjaegger. It is no coincidence that Henrik Kristoffersen was inconsistent and Kjetil Jansrud went into a slump when Grandma Jansrud was in the hospital and the team had to rely on (horror of horrors!) store-bought ojlmsfjaegger. Once Grandma Jansrud was fully fit again, she went back to supplying the team with its favorite birthday treat and the Norwegian men were back on the podium again. It is rumored that Drs. Mabongo and Djibuku have asked Grandma Jansrud for her ojlmsfjaegger recipe. 

There you have it...we will have to wait until the end of next season for more awards. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive story. 

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