Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Soelden 2015 Report

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

 The 2015/16 ski racing season officially kicked off with the giant slalom races in Soelden last weekend. The others will report about Ted Ligety's 4th win in Soelden, Federica Brignone's first World Cup win, and the comebacks of Aksel Lund Svindal, Manuel Feller, and Sophia Goggia from injuries. But, as usual, our intrepid reporters will tell our readers about the stories that the others don't dare to print. Let's find out what they have to say.

 Before getting into reporting about Soelden, we will get serious for a moment. Anna Fenninger will be out for approximately 8 to 9 months because of her injury. We at the Blickbild wish her a full recovery from her horrific injury and hope to see her on the race pistes again.

 The Power is in the Hair. What do Italian ski racer Federica Brignone and Samson have in common? Fede is one of the top ski racers in the world and Samson was a Biblical strongman. What could they possibly have in common? The answer is a lot of hair. Just like Samson, it seems like Fede's power is in her hair. Fede may not be able to lift mountains and rub them together like Samson, but she can ski down them better than those of us who are mere mortals. But we hope that Fede will keep her beautiful mane of  hair, just in case that is where her real power lies. You never know what could happen if she got a haircut and we really don't want to find out.

Un-American Behavior. It's a good thing that Joe McCarthy and his Committee on Un-American Activities is no longer in existence. Otherwise someone would have to report second place finisher Mikaela Shiffrin to them as being a bad American. When Mikaela saw the video of Soelden winner Federica Brignone's first run, she said that Fede deserved to be so far ahead. Mikaela did not make excuses for not being in first place, nor did she blame rocks, the course slippers, or the conditions. She has not yet realized that it is the American way to blame others and make excuses for not winning. Remember last year in Soelden, when Ted Ligety finished 10th and blamed the Naughty Ninja Stone? In addition, Mikaela sincerely congratulated fellow podium finishers Federica Brignone and Tina Weirather. Even after four years in the World Cup with 15 wins, three slalom globes, two World Championship gold medals, and one Olympic gold medal, Mikaela has not become a prima donna. Her parents have obviously done something wrong, or she must be spending too much time around Europeans, because Mikaela has the best sportsmanship in the World Cup and is not a diva. This must change if she is to be like her other famous teammates.

No Pressure Here. Eva-Maria Brem, who finished 9th, had the weight of Austria on her slender shoulders on Saturday. It's a good thing that Austria is a fairly small country, or else she would have been crushed flatter than a pancake. One of our intrepid reporters overheard the Austrian trainers talking to Eva-Maria, trying their best to motivate her and take the pressure off. Here is a sampling of what they told her: Trainer A: "We don't want to pressure you, but with Anna out for the season, you're now the top GS skier on the team. Show the world why you are our Number One." Trainer B: "There is no pressure from me, but the whole country is watching you. But just relax and don't let the stress get to you."  Trainer C: "You cannot fail us because you are the team leader. Imagine the shame of the Austrian Power Team's leader faltering on home turf. But I'm not putting any pressure on you to perform." Trainer D: "You are Austria's last and only hope for any World Cup success this season. So simply relax, enjoy the race, and don't feel the pressure of being the one our country is turning to for redemption." With motivational speeches like that, it's a wonder that Eva-Maria managed to finish the race at all.

Wham-O Comes to Soelden. There was a Wham-O Slip and Slide (see this video if you never heard of a Slip and Slide) on the course in Soelden. Several racers slid all the way from the top of the Steilhang (steep face) to the bottom. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. One of our intrepid researchers found out why the Slip and Slide was there. According to the FIS, ski racing is just not exciting enough anymore. The powers that be at the FIS were trying out the Slip and Slide in Soelden before heading out to their big meeting in November. According to audience surveys, the Slip and Slide was a big hit and we should see more of them on race courses in the future. Who knows...The sport of Alpine Slip and Slide could replace the downhill races at the Beijing Olympics.

Don't Trust Anyone (With a Bib Number) Over 30. Don't trust anyone over 30 was the motto of the hippies back in the 1960s, but it definitely won't be the new FIS motto. In the men's race, about 25% of the racers in the second run had start numbers higher than 30: Hannes Reichelt (31), Adam Zampa (34), Roland Leitinger (39), Christian Hirschbuehl (52), Andrea Ballerin (57), Manfred Moelgg (62), and Steve Missillier (66). All of them finished in the points, with Leitinger tying for 6th place and having the fastest second run, Reichelt finishing 16th, and Ballerin 19th. When the FIS convenes in November, it will recommend changing the start order to a totally random draw in technical races. Soelden showed that a racer's start number in the first run was not a factor in making it to the second. With a random draw there will be no more complaints about how start order favors the best racers, or that certain racers get an advantage because of their bib numbers.

Best Artistic Impression. No Blickbild race report would be complete without an award for best artistry. That award goes to an unknown course worker during the second run of the men's race. He started at the top of the Steilhang and slid all the way to the bottom headfirst on his belly. Maybe he was an Anja Paerson fan and wanted to imitate her famous belly slide. Or perhaps he was trying to promote the new sport of Alpine Slip and Slide racing (see the paragraph about the Slip and Slide). Nevertheless, the course worker's belly slide earned him an artistry score of 9.7.

Top Witch Doctor. Just like we include best artistry in our reports, we also tell our readers which witch doctor was the best. It looks like French witch doctor and three-time Dave Seville Witch Doctor of the Year runner-up, Dr. Djibuku, was tops in Soelden. He is certainly going to make it hard for Germany's Dr. Mabongo to win his 4th Dave Seville Award. There were 4 French men in the top 10 in Soelden: Thomas Fanara (2nd), Alexis Pinturault (5th), Victor Muffat-Jeandet (9th), and Mathieu Faivre (10th). However, Dr. Djibuku's award for the top witch doctor in Soelden was controversial. The Italians protested and thought that their new witch doctor, Dr. Mujingu, should have named the top witch doctor. They certainly had a strong case. Italy had the women's race winner and a total of 6 women in the top 16 as well as men's tin medalist Roberto Nani, 11th place Florian Eisath, 13th place Giovanni Borsotti, 19th place Andrea Ballerin, and 23rd place Manfred Moelgg. However, the Italian protest was denied, though Dr. Mujingu got a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, and a card from the FIS for coming in second. It looks like the competition for the Dave Seville Award this season will be more than a two-horse race between Drs. Mabongo and Djibuku.

Well, dear readers, it looks like we are out of time. We will bring you all of the excitement in Levi in 3 weeks. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive report.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters are never under pressure to produce a story.

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