Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Behind the Scenes in Soelden

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The opening races of the season start in 11 days in Soelden. While everyone focuses on the athletes, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to get everything ready for a World Cup race. From course workers to those who work in local shops, hotels, and restaurants, there is a whole team of people working together to make a World Cup race successful for the fans. One of our intrepid reporters is already in Soelden and decided to interview some of those workers that the public doesn't usually see or associate with the races. Let's find out what they have to say.

1st person. Someone working to prepare the course. 
BB: Course preparation begins well in advance of the race itself. What is your role in preparing the course?
Course Worker: My job is I take the snow from that pile over there (points to the left) and move it over there (points to the right).
BB: I see. Are you involved with slipping the course or smoothing out the snow?
Course Worker: No, that is not my job I will explain again what I do in case you did not understand my English. My job is I take the snow from that pile over there (points to the left) and move it over there (points to the right).
BB: That is all you do, move the snow from one place to another?
Course Worker: Yes, that is my job. I move the snow from that pile over there (points to the left) to over there (points to the right). It is a very important job. If I do not do my job, the skiers would be racing on grass.
BB: True enough. One of the important jobs behind the scenes is making sure that the snow is in the right place. This worker is doing his part to make the races in Soelden a success.

2nd person. A waitress in a local restaurant.
BB: The restaurants in Soelden are very busy feeding athletes, fans, and support staff. (short pause) Servus! Race weekend must be a hectic time for you.
Waitress: Yes. We have many customers during the races. It is quite busy.
BB: Which country has the least fussy customers?
Waitress: Germany. You can feed a German anything and he will be polite and eat it. Serve a German beets and Brussels sprouts in liver sauce, and he will clean his plate. Germans are brought up to eat everything on their plates no matter what and then say that they loved it. 
BB: Has your restaurant ever served beets and Brussels sprouts in liver sauce?
Waitress: No! Nobody would eat here if we served that.
BB: What about ojlmsfjaegger or surstroemming?
Waitress: What are those?
BB: Special Scandinavian delicacies which a German would probably eat to be polite. Who are the fussiest customers?
Waitress: Definitely the Americans. They want to know if our food is organic, non-GMO, low-fat, carb-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy free, wheat-free, and peanut-free. A lot of Americans also want to know if our meat comes from free-range animals who have classical music played to them while they graze.
BB: Have you even been tempted to serve an American a peanut butter and soybean sandwich fried in lard where the bread is made with non-organic, GMO wheat?
Waitress: Uh....No. But you gave me a great idea for my next customer who asks too many questions about our food.
BB: At the Blickbild, we are always willing to help others with our creative ideas. The restaurants in Soelden have waitresses just like this one all throughout race weekend. When you go into a restaurant on race weekend, think about how hard she and others like her work to serve you.

3rd person. A Race Day Ticket Taker
BB: What do you do on race day?
Ticket Taker: I ensure that everyone entering the race venue has a valid ticket.
BB: Have people tried to come to the races with counterfeit tickets?
Ticket Taker: Yes. You wouldn't believe how many try. But they don't get by me.
BB: That's good to hear that you are so diligent about checking tickets. (short pause) Goesser is the official beer of the Soelden races. What if someone tries to get into the race venue with a Stiegl beer?
Ticket Taker: That is practically a criminal offense! There is  only one beer at the races and that is Goesser.
BB: Do you have a Mafia hit man on call to terminate those who bring Stiegl beer into the race venue?
Ticket Taker: No, but we call Security and they deal with the offender.
BB: What about people who try to bring voodoo dolls to the races?
Ticket Taker: I haven't seen anyone trying to bring a voodoo doll to a race and I  have been a ticket taker for 15 years. 
BB: But in theory, would it be okay for a fan to bring a voodoo doll to a race?
Ticket Taker: I don't see why not as long it is one of a non-Austrian racer.
BB: So you are saying it is okay to bring a voodoo doll to a race but not a Stiegl beer?
Ticket Taker: Uh...I guess so.
BB: It is good to see workers like you who are dedicated to rooting out the wrong beer at the races. If it weren't for people like you, fans would bring any old beer with them and not Goesser. Thank you for helping to make race weekend a success.

4th person. A Sports Shop Employee
BB: I'm sure that you have many people coming into your shop on race weekend to rent or buy ski equipment. 
Store Worker:  We have a lot of people coming into the store, but not so many buyers.
BB: Do you increase your prices because it's a busy, high-demand weekend?
Store Worker: No. In fact, we have special offers. But the reason people come into my store is because some of the racers have autograph sessions there. 
BB: But you would think that after getting an autograph, someone would check out your merchandise.
Store Worker: One would think so. But most of the ski fans are in the shop just to get the free autographs and a photo of their favorite racers. What a bunch of cheapskates!
BB: Can't you tell the people who come in for autographs that they can't leave the shop unless they buy or rent something?
Store Worker: That would not work. The fans would just wait until after the race to get a photo or autograph.
BB: Sure it would. If every ski shop in Soelden said that you get an autograph and photo card if you spend 25 euros, and could have your photo taken with your favorite racer if you spent 50 or more euros, it would be a win-win situation. The fans would get their autographs and photos, the ski shops would make money, and you could keep your job.
Store Worker: Interesting idea. I must ask my boss about that.
BB: Our reporters are not only intrepid, they are also clever. Dear readers, if you are in Soelden for the races, buy something at one of the local shops so that the workers can keep their jobs. 

5th person. A Course Slipper
BB: I see that you are not doing anything right now. What do you do for the big race weekend?
Course Slipper: I am not skiving off, but I'm on a break. According to Austrian labor laws, I am entitled to take a break. but during the races I am very busy as a course slipper.
BB: That is a very important job on race day.
Course Slipper: It certainly is! Smoothing out the ruts and ensuring that every racer has a clean course is a huge responsibility.
BB: Last season some of the racers criticized the course slipping and said that it was very poor. What is your opinion on that?
Course Slipper: Only the very best can slip courses at World Cup races. We course slippers are very experienced. The people who criticized us are sore losers who were looking for a good excuse. 
BB: So it is not true that the quality of course slippers has been declining?
Course Slipper: Heavens no! That is a rumor spread by people who didn't win their races. Saying that the winner was the best that day was simply not good enough, so they unfairly slammed us course slippers. We need to pass a lot of exams to become World Cup course slippers. I think that we are better now than we were back in the early days of the World Cup. 
BB: You don't deliberately do a poor job when you know that your least favorite racer is next on the course
Course Slipper: Of course not! We are supposed to be neutral.
BB: Did you or one of your fellow course slippers plant the rock that bit Ted Ligety's ski on the Soelden course last year?
Course Slipper: No, no, no! That stone was proven to have teleported itself onto the course. We course slippers had nothing to do with it and could not have prevented it from getting onto the race piste. We can only remove ordinary stones.
BB: What if a Yeti comes onto the course? Can you remove it before a racer crashes into it?
Course Slipper: What a ridiculous question, but I'll answer it. No, I have personally never encountered a Yeti on the course. But if there was one, I would remove it in time to prevent a crash. I would grind it into the snow and smooth it out so that a racer would never even know it was there. 
BB: Let's hope that neither the Naughty Stone nor a Yeti appear in Soelden to test your course slipping powers. Otherwise, you poor course slippers will come under even more fire than you were last season. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I hope you enjoyed meeting some of the people who work behind the scenes in Soelden to make race weekend a great experience for everyone. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive story.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our job is to write the stories that nobody else dares to print. And our intrepid reporters are smarter than a rock.

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. 

No comments: