Saturday, December 26, 2015

Questions and Answers December 2015

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive
Ski racing season is in full swing now. Our mailbag is full of letters from ski racing fans all over the world. Here to answer our readers's questions is our very own Answer Man, who is really one of our intrepid researchers. Let's find out what our readers and Answer Man have to say.
Question 1: Lindsey Vonn said that she was able to finish the slalom portion of the Alpine combined race in Val d'Isere with only two days of slalom training. Why are the slalom specialists training so hard if you only need two days of training to make it down the course?
Answer Man: That is a very good question. The short answer would be that even an advanced beginning skier could ski on a slalom course with just a few lessons, so Ms. Vonn's feat is not so extraordinary. But the slalom specialists go fast and look good while doing so, which is why they train so much.
BB: Do you think that ski schools will start promoting "Absolute Beginner to World Cup Slalom Course Finisher in Two Days" programs? After all, there are "Couch Potato to Marathon Finisher in 12 Weeks" training plans.
Answer Man: That is a possibility. A World Cup slalom course is much shorter than the 42.2 kilometer (26.2 miles) marathon distance, so a person would need less time and training to ski down it. If it takes 12 weeks to go from a junk food eating sloth to marathon finisher, I think that two days for a beginning skier to slalom course finisher sounds about right.
BB: Those quickie marathon programs are designed to get a runner to the finish line with no regard for finishing time. Would a two-day Beginner to Slalom Course Finisher course have the same goal?
Answer Man: Yes. The goal would be to make all of the gates and finish the course. Speed would  not be an issue. Just like elite marathon runners train hard for their races, it is the same for World Cup slalom specialists. Keep in mind that Michaela Kirchgasser, who is a technical specialist, had the best slalom time in the Alpine combined race in Val d'Isere. Just like recreational runners are not elite athletes, beginning skiers are not either. Therfore, they just need a short training period to make it to the finish line. Watch for ski magazines and online skiing forums to start publishing their own "Absolute Beginner to Slalom Race Finisher in Two Days" programs soon so that every skier can be like Lindsey Vonn.

Question 2: Why was Tina Weirather disqualified from the downhill portion of the Alpine combined race in Val d'Isere?
Answer Man: This time it was not for wearing her arm guards on the outside of her speed suit instead of on the inside. She learned her lesson about the FIS's high-tech arm guard detection methods after wearing her arm guards in the wrong place.
BB: What does it matter where a racer wears her arm guards? Isn't the important thing that she is wearing them?
Answer Man: If a racer wears her arm guards in the wrong place, it could set a dangerous precedent. Soon everyone will be wearing them in the wrong place and then it would be total chaos. What is the point of having rules if nobody is willing to follow them?
BB: Good point. Back to Val d'Isere. Why was Tina disqualified?
Answer Man: It appears that she was wearing a training suit instead of a racing suit.
BB: Again, who cares which suit Tina was wearing? Nobody cares about Lindsey Vonn or Julia Mancuso wearing non-official US team racing suits.
Answer Man: Just like with the arm guards, it would set a precedent of letting the athletes wear their training suits in races. If the FIS is going to have a Big Book of Rules, those rules must be enforced. It looks like Tina was trying to ignore the rules, but the FIS has stealth technology that detects whether an athlete is wearing a training or racing suit.

Question 3: Some of the athletes in Val d'Isere only did the downhill portion of the Alpine combined race? Isn't there a penalty for skipping the slalom?
Answer Man: There is currently no penalty for only doing the downhill or Super-G portion of a combined race. Everyone knows that a certain percentage of the athletes use the downhill portion of a combined race as an extra training run. There is nothing in the Big Book of Rules that prohibits this.
BB: Do those who skip the slalom portion take advantage of an extra training run because they are slow learners?
Answer Man: Some people might think so. But I think that they are actually smarter than average  because they found a way to sneak in an extra training run.
BB: Let's imagine that you ran the FIS and could come up with any way to encourage athletes to do both parts of a combined race. What would you propose?
Answer Man: If I ran the FIS, any racer who skipped the slalom portion of a combined race would have 250 points deducted from his or her total. If that racer had less than 250 points, then a 50% reduction would be fair. The exception would be for sudden illness or injury during the speed portion, which would be verifed by three independent doctors who are not associated with that racer's team. If there is no injury or illness, the athlete would be put on a pillory in front of the stands with a sign around his or her neck that says, "I am a quitter."
BB: That sounds a bit harsh!
Answer Man: Not really. At least we are not arming the fans with rotten fruit to throw at the person in the pillory. That would be a bit extreme.  But remember, the pillory worked quite well in the Middle Ages and it could still be effective today.

Question 4: Now that Lara Gut has taken the lead in the overall standings, will there be an invasion of Ticino?
Answer Man: I don't think so. The people who attempted to invade Slovenia ended up at the Lubyanka prison instead of in Ljubljana. They still have not been found. The only ones who benefitted from the attempted invasion were the elephants, who are fat and happy in the Salzburg Zoo.
BB: Wouldn't you think that the lesson learned from the failed invasion of Slovenia was that reading a map is a good thing to do before setting out?
Answer Man: It is always good to read a map, though the ancient Roman legions made it all the way to Great Britain without Google Maps or a GPS system. But I can only imagine that anyone trying to invade Ticino would end up in Torino or even Toledo.
BB: Toledo? The one in Spain or the one in Ohio?
Answer Man: You never know.
BB: Do you think that the whole country of Switzerland will be bombed? Besides Lara taking the lead in the overall standings, Fabienne Suter is tied for the lead in the downhill standings.
Answer Man: Switzerland hasn't been invaded in many, many years. You have to remember that every able-bodied man in Switzerland is part of the National Guard and will defend their country. You don't want to mess with Swiss men. For any invading force, the upside is if they bomb the whole country, they are bound to hit Ticino. But...they have to ensure that they are reading their maps correctly and not accidentally bombing Swaziland. That could cause an international incident.

Question 5: There was a Norwegian podium Super-G sweep in Val Gardena last weekend and the Norwegian trainer set the course. Nobody said anything about that. But people got upset when Marcel Hirscher won a Super-G race in Beaver Creek on a course that the Austrian trainer set. Why is there this double standard?
Answer Man: Everyone loves the Norwegians. They are a small team that produces great ski racers and they have given the world ojlmsfjaegger. Also, ski racing fans dislike Marcel Hirscher because he wins too much.
BB: He can't help it if he is consistent. Marcel has also been answering his critics by doing Super-G races. When was the last time you saw Aksel Lund Svindal or Kjetil Jansrud doing a slalom race?
Answer Man: the slalom part of a combined race. They don't look very graceful doing slalom, but they make it down the course without a lot of slalom training.
BB: Are you saying that Lindsey Vonn is not the only one who does just a little bit of slalom training to prepare for a combined race?
Answer Man: Yes, that's right.
BB: So ski schools and online ski forums should amend their "Beginner to World Cup Slalom Course Finisher" programs to say that students will be just like Lindsey and the Norwegian speed racers?
Answer Man: Hmmmm...I suppose they would have to include the Norwegian speed racers in their promotions.

Question 6: What are the Norwegians eating for breakfast these days? Aksel Lund Svindal came back from a death-defying injury, Kjetil Jansrud is having a great season, Henrik Kristoffersen is leading the slalom standings, Alexander Aamodt Kilde had his first podium finish, and Nina Loeseth is on a hot streak.
Answer Man: The Norwegian team is being well-supplied with ojlmsfjaegger. Evidently, it is not just for birthdays anymore on the Norwegian ski team. Or perhaps they eat it every day because every day is somebody's birthday. In addition to Grandma Jansrud, other Norwegian grandmothers are doing their part to keep the team eating their ojlmsfjaegger.
BB: Can you explain what ojlmsfjaegger are for our newer readers?
Answer Man: Of course. They are cubes of pickled reindeer hearts covered in a special smoked salmon and chocolate sauce, which are eaten on birthdays.
BB: Ojlmsfjaegger were originally considered a banned substance by the FIS. But they changed their mind and allowed the Norwegians to eat them. Will the FIS consider banning them again because the Norwegian team is having a super season?
Answer Man: We all know that the FIS is always right, even when it's wrong.  I think for now ojlmsfjaegger will still be legal.
BB: Norway got a witch doctor this season, Dr. Mwafume. What effect has he had?
Answer Man: He has obviously had a positive effect on the team's performance. He could even beat Dr. Mabongo for the Dave Seville Witch Doctor of the Year Award. But the Norwegian team seems to think that as long as they have their ojlmsfjaegger, they will keep on winning.
BB: Will other teams drop their witch doctors and start eating ojlmsfjaegger? Or does it only have a good effect on Norwegians?
Answer Man: Somehow I don't forsee other teams eating ojlmsfjaegger. It's definitely an acquired taste. I think that teams will stick with their witch doctors. Whenever the Norwegian team has a birthday party and invites racers from other teams, the non-Norwegians refuse to touch the ojlmsfjaegger. I know that you have tried the ones that Grandma Jansrud made, and lived to tell the tale, but most of the World Cup racers are not as intrepid as you.
BB: Of course not! The Blickbild has the most intrepid reporters in the business! Well, it looks like we are out of time and questions to answer. I want to thank our Answer Man for taking the time to answer everyone's questions. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive story.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters had more than two days of training to become the intrepid journalists that they are.

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