Friday, December 9, 2016

Making Austria Great Again

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

What has happened to the mighty Austrian Power Team? So far this season the athletes are performing like they are the Austrian Sissy Team. The only Austrian man or woman to get on the podium this season has been Marcel Hirscher with his win in Levi and two second places. Austria's legacy of past greats is being tarnished. To add insult to injury, Italy tops the Nations Cup standings. What can be done to make Austria great again? One of our intrepid reporters had the chance to interview new Austrian co-trainer Werner Franz. It appears that he has the perfect plan to restore Austria to its usual ski racing glory. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Should our readers be concerned about the recent decline in the Austrian Team?
Franz: No. On the women's side there have been many injuries. Eva-Maria Brem and Carmen Thalmann suffered season-ending injuries. Anna Veith is still recovering from her injury. For the men Matthias Mayer just came back from fractured vertebrae and Hannes Reichelt from back surgery. 
BB: I understand about all of the injuries and that it takes time to get back to racing form after them. But how long can you use that as an excuse?
Franz: Let's see how well you can report ski racing news if you injured your hands.
BB: The Blickbild has the most intrepid reporters in the business! We can always improvise. You can do anything with a Swiss Army knife. But back to Austria. What is your grand plan for bringing back Austria's glory?
Franz: First of all, the plan is to get the racers back to their winning ways. It is a great plan!
BB: Tell our readers what it is.
Franz: As I said, it is important for our racers and our national morale to get our ski racers winning again. Ski racing is Austria's national sport. We need to ensure that our Sportsmen of the Year are ski racers and not football (soccer to our North American readers) players.
BB: Are you going to explain your astounding plan sometime today?
Franz: Yes. It is the best plan ever to get our racers winning again. It is like no other plan and is simply the best.
BB: One more time. If you do not explain your super plan, this interview will be over. Our readers want to know what your amazing plan is. Does it involve hiring a witch doctor for the team or feeding them ojlmsfjaegger? 
Franz: Okay, okay! The others were simply satisfied with me telling them that the Austrian coaching staff has a stupendous plan to get our racers winning again. You are obviously not like the others.
BB: That's right. So let's hear it, unless of course there is really no plan and you are simply playing mind games with the Austrian people by telling them what they want to hear. 
Franz: You win. First of all, our World Cup racers, except for a select few like Marcel Hirscher, will be relegated to the Europa Cup. If football teams can be relegated for poor performances, then we should be able to relegate ski racers. Our World Cup racers should be able to win Europa Cup races easily and improve their record of wins and podium places.
BB: Let's suppose that being relegated to the Europa Cup level does not make the Austrian racers win. Will the next step be for them to do FIS races?
Franz: Yes. Our World Cup racers should be able to dominate FIS races. Then the next step would be to bring them back up through the Europa Cup and then to the World Cup.
BB: That sounds good. You boost the athletes' confidence by giving them easy opportunities to win, and then bring them back up again. By the time they get back to the World Cup level, they will be winning again and the Austrian ski team will resume its rightful Number One position.
Franz: Yes! You got it!
BB: Playing devil's advocate here, what if your plan backfires? Maybe the athletes feel so demoralized by being relegated that they have no confidence and stop winning. What will you do then?
Franz: This plan should be foolproof because it is so brilliant, but I will indulge you. We will keep on relegating the racers until they start winning, even if it means having them compete in a children's division.
BB: Wait a minute! Won't people be suspicious if they see Olympic gold medalist Matthias Mayer in a race for ten-year-olds?
Franz: Yes, but we would simply say that he is big for his age. After all, if Vanessa Mae competed in a junior race in Slovenia when she was in her 30s, there should be no problem with World Cup racers competing in children's races in Austria. It is all about getting our racers to win again.
BB: That seems a bit extreme. Why not change your training methods or hire a team psychologist or witch doctor?
Franz: We will not hire any witch doctors because we believe Austria is so great already!
BB:  You just contradicted yourself. First you said that you need to make Austria great again. Then you said that it is already great. Which is it?
Franz: (sighs) You media people always come up with absurd trick questions. No wonder our racers are doing so poorly.
BB: You obviously don't read the Blickbild, or you would know all about absurd questions. Do you have a backup plan if relegation does not work?
Franz: Yes. Just like the Swiss a few seasons ago (see this classic story), the men will compete in women's races. The men should easily be able to defeat the women. Their victories over the ladies will give them the confidence they need to go back to the men's division and start winning there.
BB: Has the FIS given the Austrian Ski Federation permission for the men to compete in women's races? It would not let Lindsey Vonn participate in men's races except as a forerunner. 
Franz: We should have no problems getting the FIS's consent because we are Austria. We can get anything we want. The Swiss got special permission for their men to compete in women's races, so the precedent has been set. We will also have our women in men's races.
BB: A woman can't win a men's race because men have more muscle mass than women. How would having women in men's races bring back Austria's ski racing glory?
Franz: We would not really have the women race against the men. We are not crazy! But having the women around would embarrass the men into winning again. No man wants to be beaten by a girl. The men would go out and do their best in order not to be beaten by women, even if the women don't actually start the race.
BB: That is even more ridiculous than something we would come up with. Don't you think the men would catch on after a few races that the women were hanging around in the starting area but not actually participating?
Franz: Hmmmmm...We didn't think of that possibility.
BB: Evidently not. You underestimated the intelligence of your fellow Austrians. Shame on you! What about bringing in successful racers from other countries to compete for Austria? Someone like Mikaela Shiffrin or Aksel Lund Svindal would be real assets to the Austrian team. I'm sure that you could find a way to get a waiver from the two-year residency requirement for switching teams. 
Franz: The Austrian team should be composed of real Austrians and not immigrants pretending to be Austrians just to get some glory through sport. Mikaela and Aksel would also have to go through a long vetting process to ensure that they are not terrorists. By then the season would be over.
BB: What about this idea...Italy is leading the Nations Cup overall standings. Why doesn't Austria invade Italy, or at least the Suedtirol, and bring the Italian ski racers onto the Austrian team? That would be a win-win situation. Austria gets Italy's land and its successful ski racers. 
Franz: What a great idea! I'll run it by Herr Schroecksnadel and the rest of the powers that be at the Austrian Federation at our next team meeting. I'm sure he would find a way to get the Austrian army to invade Italy and put their ski racers on the Austrian team. That could be the solution to our problems.
BB: Invading Italy would be a short-term solution to the problem of the winless Austrians, Marcel Hirscher excepted. But have you or your colleagues thought through a long-term plan? This generation of both Austrian and Italian racers will eventually retire. Who will take their places?
Franz: The Austrian federation has a huge plan for ensuring that future generations of skiers will win races. It is so huge it is gargantuan! Nothing compares to how enormous this plan is.
BB: Ai yai yai! Just tell our readers the details already.
Franz: In Austria we have our special academies where we develop our racers from the time they learn to walk. We originally thought about bringing back the guillotine and installing one at each academy, but someone pointed out that if we chop off the heads of every junior racer who does not finish on the podium, we would quickly run out of ski racers. Parents would not bring their kids to the ski academies for training for fear of them being beheaded instead of simply dropped from the team.
BB: Oh those pesky facts! If the guillotine idea was a failure, what are you doing to inspire Austria's young racers to win?
Franz: We are doing the next best thing with our aspiring racers and bringing back the pillory. If a young racer finishes off the podium, he will be put in the pillory and the fans can throw rotten fruit and vegetables at him.
BB: How will putting young children in a pillory and throwing rotten food at them going to motivate them to win races?
Franz: We heard that Lindsey Vonn's father used to beat her and poked her with an electric cattle prod when she did not win in her youth. She now has the attitude that she must win all the time because second place is really the first loser. We must develop that attitude in our young racers so when they grow up they will win and take their places among the Austrian greats. We will also have pillories at World Cup, Europa Cup, and FIS races. The pillory worked wonders back in the Middle Ages, so why wouldn't it work now. Sometimes older ideas are the best ones.
BB: Doesn't that seem rather extreme? Who is going to pay for the pillories and the cost of transporting them to all of the different race venues?
Franz: Italy should pay for them! The Italians have taken Austria's rightful place in the Nations Cup standings and need to be put in their place. What a magnificent plan!
BB: I'm not sure how the Italians would feel about paying for pillories for Austrian ski racers and their transportation. But that is something to worry about if your plan actually gets approved.
Franz: Why wouldn't it be approved? It is the grandest plan of all!
BB: Let's see how everything plays out this season. Hopefully the Austrian men will find their mojo and start winning regularly so that order can be restored to the world. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview and wish the Austrian team success for the rest of the season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters may not be stupendous, but they are the most intrepid in  the business.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine ski racing, please like us on Facebook. We are also on Twitter as bostonblickbild.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The 12 Labours of Henrik Kristoffersen

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Norwegian technical ace Henrik Kristoffersen was told that he had to meet three conditions in order to be back in good graces with his team.  First, he had to apologize to his teammates that he alienated with his comments. Secondly, he has to behave better, which has all sorts of interpretations. Does that mean that he can't torment Marcel Hirsher, the proud owner of two reindeer, with recipes for reindeer stew? Or does it simply mean that he should follow team rules without questioning them? The last condition is that his father must not interfere with Henrik's training or business.

We at the Blickbild feel that three conditions is not enough. After all, Hercules had to perform 12 labours. OK, I hear you all thinking that Hercules killed his family and needed to perform his 12 labours to atone for  that deed. All Henrik did was boycott a race over team orders about what to wear on his head at ski races. Boycotting a race is not as big a sin as killing your family, and should merit a lesser punishment. But we feel that in order to really atone for his sins with the Norwegian team, Henrik should be a modern day Hercules and also perform 12 labours. We sent out a survey to our staff for what they thought Henrik should do. Unfortunately, there are no more mythological creatures for him to slay, like Hercules had. Our labours are based on real life tasks that help teach teamwork,  humility and independence with physical fitness as a side effect. Here are the top vote-getters, though not necessarily in order. Let's find out what the Blickbild staff has to say.

Labour 1.  Run a marathon. This should be one of the easier labours to accomplish. Ski racers have strong legs from lifting weights and also from cycling long distances in the summer. But as any experienced marathon runner knows, running 42.2 km (26.2 miles) is never easy. When the muscles decide that they don't want to run anymore, a marathon runner must tell himself that the finish line is only 4,572 more steps away and that he can make it. The best part about completing this particular labour is that Henrik will get a finisher's medal at the end of the race.

Labour 2. Teach math to a class of 8th graders as a substitute teacher. The first thought was that Henrik should spend his spare time teaching beginners how to ski. It would be a way for him to give back to the sport that has given him so much. But that would be too easy and not really considered a Labour. Teaching math to a class of 13 to 14-year-olds who think that they know everything would be much more of a challenge and real mental labour to ensure that everyone understands the subject. Being a substitute teacher makes it even more challenging because kids that age are on their worst behaviour with one. If he can get through two sentences without being interrupted, he will have done well.

Labour 3. Dig ditches for a week. People the world over make fun of ditch diggers. But they perform a useful function. Digging ditches is real physical labour. Henrik would have plenty of opportunities to dig ditches because new US president Donald Trump wants to build a wall on the Mexican border. In order to build the wall, he will need plenty of ditch diggers. The bonus of digging ditches is that it is an excellent upper body workout. After a week of digging ditches, Henrik will have the strongest arms on the Norwegian Ski Team.

Labour 4. Work at a McDonald's. Most people love fast food. Therefore restaurants like McDonald's need workers to keep up with the world's appetite for fast food. Working in a McDonald's is a rite of passage for many teenagers the world over. Henrik probably skipped that part of his adolescent development because he was training to win ski races. But it is never too late. Working in a fast food restaurant teaches people to be part of a team and get along with their co-workers. When Henrik finishes this task, he should get along better with his ski racing teammates.

Labour 5. Compose a 4-movement classical symphony. Henrik is a genius on the race pistes. But a true genius is also well-rounded and creative. This is a real mental labour because Henrik must know how all of the various instruments sound together and use his creativity to come up with an original composition. You may wonder how this is relevant to ski racing. It isn't. But not all labour is physical.  He has to work with temperamental musicians, which can be stressful. Composing a symphony would also unleash Henrik's creative talents and make him more well-rounded.

Labour 6. Work as a dishwasher in a restaurant.  Everyone loves to eat, but nobody loves to wash the dishes afterward. Henrik and his teammates go out to a lot of restaurants when they travel to  races. But do they wash the dishes? No, but somebody has to. Working as a dishwasher is an entry-level job that teaches humility. It also builds muscles from handling piles of dishes and scrubbing pots.

Labour 7. Clean the exhibits at the San Diego Zoo. One of Hercules' labours was to clean the Augean Stables. Poor Hercules had to clean stables which hadn't been touched in 30 years and the horses there were supposed to live forever, which meant never-ending piles of poop. If cleaning the Augean Stables was good enough for Hercules, then Henrik should have no problems cleaning zoo exhibits. At the San Diego Zoo, the exhibits are cleaned more often than every 30 years, so Henrik will have it easy. But cleaning up after a lot of animals is still physical labour and will build his muscles.

Labour 8. Hunt alligators in the New York City sewers. Nothing says labour quite like working in a sewer. Back in the 1950s and early '60s kids in New York got baby alligators for presents. But the kids' parents quickly realized that alligators don't stay cute and little--they grow up. The baby alligators got flushed down the toilet and ended up in the sewer system, where they grew up to be big alligators. Men went into the sewer system to hunt the alligators, but they probably missed a few along the way. Those who were forgotten have reproduced, necessitating the need for a new generation of alligator hunters. After spending a few days in the sewers and facing alligators, a slalom course will seem easier than ever.

Labour 9. Cook ojlmsfjaegger for the Norwegian Ski Team. One of the conditions for Henrik to be part of the team is to apologize to his teammates. After all, he did the equivalent of putting his thumbs in his ears, sticking out his tongue, and saying, "Nanny nanny boo boo" to his teammates when trying to get them to take Red Bull sponsorship without all the benefits that Henrik would get (private training, own Mafia hit man). But if he reads a prepared apology, how will his teammates and trainers know that he is really sincere? An apology is rated more sincere when there is food involved. Therefore, the next labour for Henrik to perform would be making ojlmsfjaegger for the team for a season. Who knows...Maybe Henrik's ojlmsfjaegger will be the magic potion that helps Norway achieve good results this season. I know what you are is traditionally women who make ojlmsfjaegger. Yes, that is true. But some traditions are meant to change with time and this could be one. Henrik could be the trend setter who sends legions of Norwegian men to the kitchen to make ojlmsfjaegger.

Labour 10. Lead an army into battle. The best way to turn a boy into a man is for him to do military service; and the best way for him to become well-respected is to lead soldiers into battle (and hopefully win the battle). Military service and leading men teaches independence and importance of teamwork. We modified this suggestion because we prefer to see Henrik on race courses and not risking his life in a war zone. So we came up with the next best thing, which would be joining a paintball league for a season and being a team captain. He will still get to wear a uniform, fire a weapon, get shot at, and develop strategy for beating his opponents just like a real military leader. However, the worst injury would be some bruises from the paint balls. Henrik will learn to lead men into battle without direction from his father, which will help him to make sound decisions for himself in the future.

Labour 11. Go on a walkabout. Generations of Australian aborigines have gone on a walkabout as a manhood rite. They go out alone into the bush for 40 days. If they survive the experience, they become full-fledged men. Henrik could also go on a 40-day walkabout in the off-season instead of taking a beach holiday like the other ski racers. He would only carry the following items with him: a Swiss Army knife, a roll of duct tape, a bottle cap, and a piece of string. If the TV hero MacGyver could defeat bad guys and escape from dungeons with only those four items, then Henrik could easily survive a walkabout. Henrik will learn valuable hunting and survival skills (he needs to eat after all) and also how to use duct tape, string, and a bottle cap to construct both an emergency shelter and an explosive device.

Labour 12. Find the Holy Grail. Knights have gone on a quest to search for the Holy Grail since the days of King Arthur. It has never been found. Henrik could go on his own quest for the Holy Grail and bring it back to his team. He has the advantage of modern technology, which King Arthur did not have, to help find the Grail. King Arthur did not have a Swiss Army knife or a bottle cap to help him search for the Grail. If he found the Grail, he would be hailed as a hero and welcomed back to the Norwegian team with open arms. If he didn't find the Grail, but won a Crystal Globe this season, that would also be okay with his team. Either way, he will be forgiven and would be allowed to move on with his life and racing career.

After Hercules finished his 12th Labour, it was decided that he fully atoned for his sins. It should be the same for Henrik after completing the labours mentioned above. If Henrik does a satisfactory job completing all of those tasks, his teammates and trainers should welcome him back with open arms. We at the Blickbild wish to see Henrik back on the race pistes. Slalom and giant slalom races are much more interesting when Henrik is competing. We hope he is successful this season in his quest to win races. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive story.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters just have to be interviewed and pass a few tests to get their jobs. They don't have to complete 12 labours.

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.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Levi 2016 Race Report

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Last weekend's races in Levi saw two familiar faces on the top step of the podium. Mikaela Shiffrin and Marcel Hirscher each won their second reindeer. Mikaela named hers Sven and Marcel named his Leo. In the women's race, Wendy Holdener and Petra Vlhova rounded out the podium. We will definitely see them on the podium in other slalom races this season. The men had a newcomer, Michael Matt, and a veteran, Manfred Moelgg, in second and third places. The others have reported on the Levi races in great detail already. We are going to focus on the reindeer instead. How do the reindeer get picked as race prizes? Here to talk with one of our intrepid reporters is Matti the Reindeer Herder, who we met two years ago (see this story). Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Matti, it is good to see you again. It looks like you have a nice healthy herd.
Matti: Yes, my reindeer are some of the healthiest in Finland.
BB: How do you decide which reindeer get picked for the slalom race winners? 
Matti: I look for a young reindeer who is not aggressive and that looks like a typical reindeer.
BB: We noticed that the reindeer given to Marcel and Mikaela in both 2013 and 2016 were male. The same for the ones given to Tina Maze and Henrik Kristoffersen in 2014. Is there a reason for giving them male reindeer?
Matti: Male reindeer have bigger antlers and look like typical reindeer. They also have a better temperament than female reindeer.
BB: I see. Do you set up a special competition within your herd to see which reindeer is the lucky one to be owned by a ski racer?
Matti: What do you mean?
BB: Do they have to race on an obstacle course, pull a sleigh, or write an essay about why they want to be Mikaela Shiffrin's reindeer?
Matti: How would a reindeer write an essay anyway? They can't hold a pencil.
BB: Good point. Anyway, if a reindeer wrote an essay about why he wanted to be Mikaela Shiffrin's pet and Petra Vlhova ended up winning the race, you would have one very disappointed reindeer in your herd.
Matti: There is no special competition between my reindeer. I simply pick the one with the best temperament.
BB: OK. Let's say that Mikaela or Marcel want to take their reindeer with them from race to race. Could they do that?
Matti: No. I take care of them and technically own them.
BB: So even though the reindeer were prizes for winning a race, the winners don't get to keep them? 
Matti: How would someone take a reindeer all over Europe and to North America?
BB: Some ski racers bring their dogs with them on tour.
Matti: A reindeer is bigger than a dog and requires more food and care.
BB: This sounds a bit like being the Zagreb Snow Queen, where you just get a title for a year and don't get to keep the throne or win any land. 
Matti: The race winners earn the right to pose for photos with their reindeer and name them.
BB: Whoopee doo! When the reindeer die, could Mikaela or Marcel make stew from them?
Matti: No, they won't get to eat their reindeer! In fact the FIS has a special rule which states that the racers may not eat their reindeer or make ojlmsfjaegger from their hearts.
BB: What becomes of the reindeer in your herd?
Matti: We butcher some of them, breed others, and drink the milk. We also use the hide for clothing and blankets. No part of the reindeer is wasted in Finland.
BB: Let's suppose that when Marcel retires, he wants to open a guesthouse. Everyone knows that in Austria the measure of a guesthouse is the number of antlers both inside and out. Would Marcel be able to take Ferdinand or Leo's antlers for his guesthouse?
Matti: No. Ferdinand and Leo are really my reindeer and Marcel's in name only. We use the antlers for many things in Finland.
BB: I understand that, but the reindeer would be dead. Therefore, they would not miss their antlers. So why couldn't Marcel have them? I'm sure you would not want the guilt of being responsible for Marcel's guesthouse failing because of an insufficient number of antlers on the walls?
Matti: Wouldn't a guesthouse fail because the food was bad? I never heard of a guesthouse failing because there were not enough antlers on the walls.
BB: You have obviously never been to Austria. When you are faced with the choice of two Austrian guesthouses, you always pick the one with the higher number of antlers. So what will you do with the antlers if Marcel can't have them?
Matti: Turn them into decorative objects, use them for medicine, and even eat them.
BB: You eat reindeer antlers?
Matti: Doesn't everybody? You should try boiled antlers. They are a delicacy. I'll make some for you when you come to Levi next year to cover the races. After all, you are supposed to be intrepid.
BB: Of course I'm intrepid! The Blickbild has the most intrepid reporters in the business! I'll try your boiled antlers next year. Back to the reindeer that you give to the race winners. You said before that you give the race winners male reindeer. Isn't the real reason to prevent the racers from taking them home to breed them and start their own reindeer herd? After all, two gay reindeer cannot breed.
Matti: My reindeer are not gay! Where do you come up with such statements? You really are absurd!
BB: Our logic is different from everyone else's. That is why we are the Blickbild. How do you know that your male reindeer are not gay?
Matti: Because they mate with the female reindeer.
BB: Maybe they are mating with the females to cover the fact that they are gay.
Matti: I never heard of gay reindeer and certainly never owned any. Santa's reindeer are all male and nobody says that they are gay. This is getting really ridiculous.
BB: One more question. Do Mikaela, Marcel, Tina, and Henrik go onto your special website to watch their reindeer?
Matti: Mikaela and Tina like to watch their babies growing up. Marcel logs in from time to time. Henrik has been banned because he makes too many comments about reindeer steaks.
BB: I can understand that. After all, he showed up in Levi in 2013 with a copy of 365 Ways to Cook Reindeer. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for your interview and look forward to your reindeer being awarded to the winners in Levi in future seasons. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: How do we get out of eating boiled reindeer antlers next year?

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.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Henrik Kristoffersen to Skip Levi

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The big news in the ski world is that slalom globe winner Henrik Kristoffersen will not race in Levi this weekend because of a dispute with the Norwegian federation. The others have covered this story in depth, so we would normally avoid it like we would playing on railroad tracks. One of our intrepid reporters tried to interview Henrik for this story, but he was not available. Then he tried to interview a representative of the Norwegian federation, but he was also not available. Not to be deterred, our gallant journalist tried one more time and lucked out. Our very own Answer Man, who is really one of our intrepid researchers, was able to give the Blickbild's unique perspective on the strife between Henrik and his federation. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: What is the story behind Henrik's problem with his federation? The Norwegians seem like such nice guys. I don't see how anyone could have a dispute with them. 
Answer Man: It is a long story. The short version is that Henrik is sponsored by Red Bull and wants it as his helmet sponsor instead of Telenor, which is the official Norwegian team sponsor. The federation insists that Henrik must have Telenor on his helmet.
BB: Aksel Lund Svindal has Red Bull on his helmet.
Answer Man: Aksel's contract with Red Bull was signed before the Telenor one. The Norwegian federation made an exception in his case and let him have a Red Bull helmet.
BB: And Henrik wants to be able to have a Red Bull helmet too?
Answer Man: Right. Everyone in Norway want to be like Aksel. He is a national hero. But think of the Norwegian team as a family and Aksel as the eldest brother. Like in any family, the older siblings get more privileges than the younger ones. Henrik will have to wait his turn just like little brothers the world over.
BB: I also heard that Henrik wants his teammates to join Red Bull, but only he will have special privileges. 
Answer Man: Yes. Red Bull has offered Henrik his own trainers so that he doesn't have to train with the rest of the team, special gyms, private jets, his own Mafia hit man, and 72 virgins.
BB: Wait a minute! Henrik is not a suicide bomber who will martyr himself for the chance to have 72 virgins in Paradise. 
Answer Man: In a way he is being a martyr for the cause of wanting to be his own man and not be bound by the rules of his federation. He is basically giving up the slalom globe that he won last season. That sounds like martyrdom to me.
BB: Where will Red Bull find 72 virgins anyway? The ratio of women to men is not high enough to support finding 72 women for every male athlete, let alone 72 who are virgins.
Answer Man: That is a good question. But if anyone can find 72 virgins for every male athlete, it would be Red Bull.
BB: Why boycott Levi and not another race? If Henrik could win another reindeer, he would have reindeer steaks and ojlmsfjaegger* for life. Other races don't give out animals to the winners.
Answer Man: Even if Henrik won another reindeer in Levi, he would not be allowed to eat it or make ojlmsfjaegger from its heart. Just like with his first reindeer Lars, Henrik had to sign a contract promising that he would not sneak into Finland to capture and eat his reindeer. He will have to use Norwegian reindeer for the recipes in his copy of 365 Ways to Prepare Reindeer.
BB: Now I understand why he is skipping Levi. The reindeer seems to be his in name only. He can't do whatever he wants with it, which could include eating it. 
Answer Man: Right. Henrik skis for Norway and should eat Norwegian reindeer anyway. At least that is what the Norwegian federation requires.
BB: I am starting to understand Henrik's point of view regarding his federation. (short pause) I heard that Henrik's head sponsor problem is not the only strife in the Norwegian federation. 
Answer Man: That is correct. There is a big conflict between Grandma Jansrud, who supplies the team with ojlmsfjaegger, and the team witch doctor Dr. Mwafume. It was the main reason that there was no Dave Seville Witch Doctor of the Year award this year.
BB: I was wondering about that and so were our readers. Tell us what happened. 
Answer Man: Germany's Dr. Mabongo won the award for the fourth year in a row. Just like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo win the Ballon d'Or every year, Dr. Mabongo wins the Dave Seville Award. Before the award was officially announced, the Norwegians found out that Dr. Mabongo won it. They felt that either Grandma Jansrud or Dr. Mwafume were more deserving because Team Norway had great performances last season while Germany was so-so. Then a fight broke out between Grandma Jansrud and Dr. Mwafume's supporters. Several hundred people were taken to the hospital. Luckily nobody was killed. It was decided to suspend the Dave Seville Award this year.
BB: I see. Have Grandma Jansrud and Dr. Mwafume's supporters made up?
Answer Man: No. The situation has gotten worse between them. It got to the point where Grandma Jansrud hit Dr. Mwafume over the head with her cane and knocked him out. Then just before Soelden she announced that she was on strike and would no longer make ojlmsfjaegger for the team.
BB: I guess that teaches them not to mess with a Norwegian grandmother. It also explains the team's poor performance in Soelden. 
Answer Man: This leads back to another point of contention between Henrik and the Norwegian federation. Part of Henrik's contract stipulates that he must have fresh ojlmsfjaegger before races. After Grandma Jansrud went on strike, it was too late to put out the call for other Norwegian women to do their patriotic duty and supply the team with ojlmsfjaegger. The federation had to resort to tinned ojlmsfjaegger in Soelden.
BB: No! 
Answer Man: Yes, it's true.
BB: I can see why he is upset with the Norwegian federation! That alone is a reason to boycott the race in Levi and even quit the team. Speaking of a boycott, I heard that Henrik is trying to get his teammates to boycott races this season. If the Norwegians boycott, and the other racers go on strike in solidarity, will the FIS bring in other racers as strike breakers so that there will be men's races?
Answer Man: About 25 or 30 years ago the US National Football League (NFL) used replacement players when the regular athletes went on strike, so a precedent has been set. It is possible that Europa Cup racers will be moved up to the World Cup or others would be brought in to compete.
BB: If the FIS decides to bring in replacement racers, would this be the big break that Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli and his band of merry Mafia hit men have been seeking?
Answer Man: It could very well happen. Team Freedonia has been looking for its break with the FIS. It is also possible that the Freedonians could recruit Henrik for their team. Since Freedonia is a fictional country, Henrik would not have to worry about the two year residence requirement like he would if he switched to another real country. There is nothing in the FIS Big Book of Rules that deals with fictional lands.
BB: Interesting. Would there be a conflict of interest if Henrik skis for Freedonia because Vinnie is a Red Bull employee?
Answer Man: That would have to be sorted out by the FIS and the proper authorities. I don't see a big conflict because Vinnie was never Henrik's personal hit man. If the FIS finds that there is a conflict of interest anyway, Henrik would have to look for another team.
BB: Here is another question. Let's suppose that the FIS decides that women could compete in the men's races because the men are all on strike. Do you think Lindsey Vonn would compete in a men's race?
Answer Man: I believe that Lindsey wants to race against men and not compete in a race that is called a men's race but where all of the competitors are women.
BB: It looks like someone is getting into semantics. One more question. Last year Anna Veith had a dispute with the Austrian federation before she was injured. She was recruited by aliens from the planet Zorkon in the Andromeda Galaxy. Has Henrik been approached by scouts from other planets?
Answer Man: I have not heard about Henrik being approached by the Zorkonians or other space aliens. But I found out from a reliable source that the Zorkonians have a colony on Earth. One of the research stations in Antarctica is really a Zorkonian colony.
BB: It sounds like the Zorkonians are serious about trying to recruit star ski racers onto their team if they have established a colony on Earth. There are mountains in Antarctica which could be developed into ski slopes and training centres. 
Answer Man: It is a matter of time before we see our first racer from Zorkon or Antarctica.  There is nothing in the FIS Big Book of Rules about competing for Antarctica since nobody has ancestors from there or also for other planets. Henrik could take advantage of that loophole in the Big Book of Rules and be the first racer from either Antarctica or Zorkon.
BB: Ski fans all over the world and universe will have to wait and see what happens between Henrik and the Norwegian federation. Hopefully this situation will be resolved soon and we will see Henrik back on the race pistes competing for Crystal Globes. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for helping our readers understand the conflict between Henrik and  his federation. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickild. Our motto is: We are still trying to figure out how every man can have 72 virgins if the ratio of men to women is 50-50.

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.

* For our newer readers, ojlmsfjaegger are cubes of pickled reindeer heart covered in a special smoked salmon and chocolate sauce. They are eaten on birthdays in Norway.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Soelden Report

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The season officially opened last weekend. The others have already reported about Lara Gut and Alexis Pinturault's commanding victories. As usual, we will report on something different. If you want a conventional race report, read Ski Racing magazine or other publications about ski racing. One of our intrepid reporters met up with former fashion students Trent Dillon and Roger (pronounced Ro-zhay) Niedermeyer in Soelden. We first met Trent and Roger at the Vail World Championships (see this story). Let's find out what they have to say...

BB: Trent and Roger, it is good to see you again. How did you enjoy the races?
Trent: We especially enjoyed the men's race. Three scrumptious guys on the podium!
Roger: I'll second Trent's opinion, and add that fourth place Zan Kranjec is also cute.
BB: I see that you two are in Europe. Are you--
Roger: Yes, we are gay. A lot of people don't realize, it, but we are.
BB: That's hard to believe. People would have to be pretty unperceptive not to realize that you are gay.
Trent: I know, right? I guess we somehow do a good job appearing straight.
BB: Anyway, I wanted to ask you why you are in Soelden for the races. 
Trent: We graduated from fashion design school last year and are now working in Europe designing ski racing suits. It is our dream come true!
BB: Really? Who are you working for?
Trent: We got hired by a real ski team to design its racing suits for the St. Moritz World Championships and the 2018 Olympics.
BB: Congratulations! Which team hired you?
Roger: Freedonia.
BB: You do realize that Freedonia is a fictional country?
Roger: But they have a real ski team and they pay very well.
BB: I would hope so. Team Freedonia is a team of Mafia hit men. 
Roger: So that's why they wanted pinstriped racing suits.
BB: Let's talk about Soelden. I know that you saw the men's race. What about the women's?
Trent and Roger (together): Booooorrrrriiiiiinnnnnggggg!
BB: Really? Lara Gut won by a huge margin and showed that she means business this season. Marta Bassino also earned her first podium place. Petra Vlhova was 8th place with start number 55 and had the best second run. How could you think the race was boring?
Trent: Let's talk about Marta's suit. What were the Italians thinking with dark grey? There were no color accents on the Italian suits. They are into a robotic look with those suits. If they are going to be robots, they should be blue because they are the Azzuri, not the Grigios.
Roger: They are too simple. A little dash of color would really make them look better. Petra Vlhova had a white suit with a splash of red and blue and it made for a simple, yet classy, look.
Trent: Dark grey is so blah! If Marta wore black, she would have felt tougher and may have even won the race. When you look tough, you perform tough!
BB: I think that Lara was unbeatable in Soelden. Nobody could have touched her there.
Roger: Ewwww! Who would want to touch her?
BB: I did not mean that literally. 
Roger: Oh thank goodness for that! Anyway, who would want to touch her in that suit?
BB: What is wrong with the Swiss speed suits?
Roger: You have to ask? The old look of red, white, and blue was fine. The suits were not too busy nor too plain. But that grey! What were the designers thinking about adding grey?
Trent: It looks like she rolled around in campfire ashes and the Swiss laundry detergent she used didn't work very well to remove them.
BB: I see.  And what about Mikaela Shiffrin's suit?
Roger: Oh my god! Pink! Who came up with that one? She looked like someone vomited Pepto Bismol all over her suit.
Trent: She might have won the race if she wasn't wearing pink. She is supposed to be a tough athlete and not a wilting flower. Pink is for sissies.
BB: Lindsey Vonn won a lot of races with a pink and white suit.
Roger: Lindsey needs pink to look feminine while being a great athlete because she is bigger than the other girls. But most women don't need pink to look like girls. If Mikaela wore black, she would have looked very intimidating and won the race.
BB: I don't know about that. Lara showed that her overall title last year was no fluke. Now on to the men's race. What did you like most about the men's race?
Trent and Roger (together): The racers!
Trent: The podium could not have been any better, except if Aksel Lund Svindal was on it.
BB: Aksel is not gay.
Trent: It's true that the good ones are either married or straight.
BB: Do you have any issues with the men's suits?
Roger: Who can resist an athlete in a tight suit? Not me!
Trent: Or me!
Roger: Marcel Hirscher really should lose the beard though. He looks much better without it.
BB: So the women's suits were bad but the men's were okay?
Trent: Not really. Let's start with Alexis Pinturault. He was also in dark grey. The French went from suits with crazy patterns to dark grey this season. You couldn't tell the French from the Italians because their suits looked alike.
BB: It seems like grey is the in color in racing suits this season. We all know that the French and Italians are fashion trend setters. 
Trent: Grey is so depressing! I'm surprised that Alexis and his teammates made it into the second run with those suits. I get depressed just looking at them. I could not imagine having to wear one.
BB: Alexis continued his hot streak in GS from last season and showed that he is a serious candidate for the overall globe. 
Trent: He certainly is hot!
BB: And straight.
Trent: It figures.
Roger: Who was the genius who came up with Austria's suits? The only thing I can say about them is that they are not grey. That pattern of turquoise and black is hard on the eyes! I'm surprised that Marcel could even see where he was going. If I wore that suit, I would have been blinded!
BB: They do match the turquoise or black jackets that the Austrian team wears.
Roger: And what is with those colors? Whatever happened to the Austrian national colors of red and white?
Trent: At least the suits match the jackets. Red and white suits would clash big time with the jackets and pants!
BB: It looks like the new trend is for teams not to put their national colors on their racing suits. The Italians and French are in grey, the US is in pink, and the Austrians are in turquoise and black. The one thing that has stayed the same over the years is the German suit.
Trent: Some things never change and I do like the snakeskin look on the arms of Felix Neureuther's suit.
Roger: Now that is an interesting look. Zebra stripes on the bottom and a snakeskin look on top. When you look like a wild animal, you feel like one and perform like one. That is how he got onto the podium.
BB: It was his first podium finish in Soelden. 
Trent: Felix is always on my podium!
BB: I hate to tell you this, but Felix is straight. But he has a big gay following.
Trent: Well of course he does! He's cute and nice too. No sane man can resist him.
BB: Do you have anything to say about the other racers?
Roger: At least Finland has a better suit this year. The Finns don't look like they graduated Magna Cum Laude from Clown College anymore.
Trent: I don't have anything to add.
BB: That's good because....well, it looks like we are out of time. Trent and Roger, thank you for another fascinating interview. You gave our readers a different perspective on the races in Soelden. Good luck with your designing career and maybe we will see your designs in St. Moritz and Pyeongchang. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We wear normal clothing at work. No weird patterns, plain grey, or clashing colors for us!

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.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Book Review

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Lindsey Vonn's book was just released and she is currently touring the USA to promote it. The others have written about her book, so we would normally avoid this subject like we would sulfur fumes. But people are buying her book, so we have no choice but to do a review with our unique spin. Unfortunately, Lindsey was not available because of her book tour calendar. But one of our intrepid reporters got the second best person to interview--Lindey's sister Laura Kildow, who is also an aspiring writer. Let's find out what she has to say.

BB: It looks like Lindsey's book is going to be a success. However, we noticed that you were not the ghost writer of her book.
Kildow: You are the first person to notice and mention that.
BB: Our reporters are not only intrepid, they are incredibly observant.
Kildow: I can see that. Hey, I am observant too.
BB: So you are. You have a goal to be a writer, yet your sister did not let you ghost write her book. Tell our readers how you feel about that.
Kildow: I'm glad that someone noticed. I would have thought that Lindsey would have made her book a family affair. After all, I wrote a nice blog that she shared on her Facebook page. I'm good enough to write a blog but not good enough to ghost write my sister's book. Is that what she thinks? If she thinks that I will share anymore of my blog posts with her, she is wrong!
BB: I can understand why you feel that way. Your blog post about the hospital in Schladming where Lindsey went after her injury at the World Championships still makes me want to avoid Austrian hospitals. And your descriptions of driving in Europe would scare anyone who never drove there before. 
Kildow: That is so kind of you to notice. You seem to be a sensitive person.
BB: Yes we Blickbild reporters are not only intrepid and observant, we are also sensitive. Onto the book itself. What did you think of it?
Kildow: Even though I did not ghost write it, I read it anyway. It was very good and any young woman reading it will no longer be ashamed of her body. Our bodies are all beautiful, especially when we eat right and exercise. We can become powerful and strong but still be beautiful. That is the message that Lindsey is trying to give girls and young women.
BB: Are you sure we read the same book? From what I read, she tells girls and women that they should not feel self-conscious about their bodies and should feel good about themselves. 
Kildow: That is true.
BB: But on the other hand, she is giving her target audience mixed messages. First she tells them to feel good about themselves, no matter how they look. But she has quite a few photos of herself wearing very little clothing. Someone reading the book will see Lindsey and feel even worse about herself because she knows she could never look like her. It's like a little girl playing with a Barbie doll and realizing that she will never have a body like Barbie's. 
Kildow: Did you really read the book?
BB: OK, I confess.  I only read an excerpt from it, which happened to contain quite a few photos of a scantily-clad Lindsey. Are you sure that girls are the target audience and not teenage boys and middle-aged perverts?
Kildow: Yes. Why would teenage boys and old men want to buy a book that talks about empowering women? You'd think that they would avoid something to help women become stronger and more beautiful.
BB: You would think so, but I'm just saying that a lot of men will buy Lindsey's book and not for the fitness tips. 
Kildow: You really think so?
BB: Yes. We Blickbild reporters are intrepid, observant, sensitive, and psychic.
Kildow: Now I understand why I was never hired by the Blickbild. I don't have all of those qualities. Being a good writer is not enough for you. Maybe I should give up writing and look for a different career.
BB: Let's move onto one more topic. Lindsey gave a recent interview in which she said that skiers and snowboarders should have their separate ski areas. What do you think of that?
Kildow: I think it's a good idea. Snowboarders sit in the middle of the run and block everyone else. They also put big ruts in the ski runs. Lindsey has a good point about keeping them separate.
BB: When was the last time that Lindsey skied on a public slope with everyone else? World Cup racers train early in the morning before the ski hill opens. The runs that they train on are also closed to the general public. 
Kildow: But it is still a good idea to keep them separate.
BB: I'm going to take your argument further. Let's suppose that you have a married couple where the husband is a boarder and the wife is a skier. Are you proposing that they must go on separate holidays?
Kildow: They would have to if there are certain resorts for skiers and others just for snowboarders. Maybe they should have realized that they would have to go to separate places before they got married. They should not wait until after the wedding to find out that they can't take vacations together.
BB: Ooooh, that is harsh! What about parents who are boarders but have young children who ski? The kids are too young to be alone on a different mountain than their parent.
Kildow: Maybe their kids should have become boarders. You really have to think about those issues
before having children.
BB: I think I found your perfect career--marriage and family counselor. (short pause) What about a person who both skis and boards?
Kildow: You mean like that Czech lady?
BB: Ester Ledecka. OK, imagine that Ester Ledecka is out with her friends and brings both skis and a snowboard. She wants to take a few ski runs and then switch to her snowboard. Would she have to ski, drive to a different hill, board, drive back to the first hill, ski, drive back to the second hill, board, and keep repeating this process all day?
Kildow: That sounds like a big hassle. But maybe she should pick one sport and stick with it.
BB: Let's take this even further. We have skiers and snowboarders separated from each other. Would you or Lindsey really want to be responsible for families being torn apart because they love different snow sports and can't participate in them in the same location?
Kildow: They are making the choice of sports. It is not my fault, or Lindsey's, if families are torn apart because some members like to ski and others like to snowboard.
BB: What about separating skiers by religion or nationality? Should the Catholic skiers have a separate hill from the Jewish, Protestant, or Buddhist ones? 
Kildow: I think you are taking this too far.
BB: I don't think so. First it starts out separating skiers and snowboarders. Next everyone is  separated by skin color, nationality, religion, color of their ski clothes, and whether they wear one-piece suits or separate pants and jacket. In five years everyone will have his or her own private ski or boarding mountain because we don't want those with green jackets mixing with those in black jackets. 
Kildow: Do you really think all that could happen from separating skiers and snowboarders?
BB: Oh yes. Maybe not in the next five years, but I can see it happening in our lifetimes. Now how do you feel about separating skiers and snowboarders?
Kildow: Maybe it is not such a good idea after all.
BB: Now you see the light. Everyone should all get along. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for another interesting chat. Maybe one day your powers of observation will help land you a job with us or as a family counselor.  And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters are not trustworthy, loyal, helpful,  friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent because they are not Boy Scouts. But they are intrepid, observant, sensitive, and have psychic powers.

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.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Bode Miller and His Lawsuits

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

US ski racer Bode Miller is suing Head in order to get out of his contract with that firm. He wants to come back to World Cup racing on Bomber skis. However, we think that he should stick to his original proposal of coming back on cheap rental skis (see this story). The others have already reported the story of Bode and his conflict between Head and Bomber. But, as usual, we have our unique perspective on this story. Here to help untangle the threads of the various contracts and lawsuits is the Blickbild's very own legal expert. We will call him Ralf because he does not want to be identified. Let's find out what he has to say. 

BB: Let's see if I have this correct. Bode has a contract with Head to use its skis through this coming season. 
Ralf: Yes. If he wants to race in the World Cup, he must use Head skis. His contract with Head says that he must use its skis for racing until the end of this coming season. After that, he is free to use any other brand. 
BB: But he would rather use Bomber skis? Are they really better than Head skis?
Ralf: Yes to the first question. He is a part owner in Bomber and wants to promote that brand. I don't know if they are really better than Head skis. The Answer Man might know because he knows everything.
BB: And Head is obviously unhappy about that. But if Bode has a contract with Head, shouldn't he honor it?
Ralf: Yes he should. But he is suing Head to get out of his contract, even though Head is paying him good money through the end of this season.
BB: It sounds like he has signed two different contracts, one with Head and one with Bomber. Which one should he really honor?
Ralf: Good manners dictate that he should go with the one he signed first, which is the one with Head. The lawsuit is to get out of that contract.
BB: It reminds me of a guy who is trying to date two girls at once. I don't think that anybody is going to end up happy. 
Ralf: Right. When a man is dating two women at once, what usually happens is that both women find out and then band together against the man. Either that or the two women turn on each other and still drop the man like a hot potato. No matter how the women react, it is generally not a happy ending for the man.
BB: Do you think that either Head or Bomber will countersue?
Ralf: It is possible. Bode could end up spending the ski season in court instead of trying to come back to racing after taking a break for a year.
BB: Do you think that Head would send Mafia enforcer Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli after Bode to ensure that he races on Head skis?
Ralf: Maybe. Vinnie is currently on holiday, but Head could tell Vinnie to convince Bode that he should race on Head skis instead of Bombers. I'm sure that Bode values his kneecaps and would come around. This would certainly avoid any prolonged legal battles between Bode, Head, and Bomber.
BB: I heard that this is not the only legal problem that Bode is having. Is that true?
Ralf: That is correct. He is suing his third grade teacher and seat mate for lifelong trauma caused by an injury.
BB: Hey wait a minute! Wasn't he home schooled?
Ralf: Yes. His mother was also his teacher and his sister was his seat mate at the kitchen table for lessons.
BB: Tell our readers about his particular lawsuit.
Ralf: As I mentioned before, Bode and his sister sat next to each other at the kitchen table for lessons. His sister evidently put her pencil on his side of the table and he put it back onto her side. She then moved the pencil back to Bode's side. After five or six repetitions of this, Bode took the pencil and stabbed his sister in the arm with it.
BB: It sounds like his sister should be suing him for the injury as well as pain and suffering. 
Ralf: She is countersuing for the injury because she still has a scar from where the pencil point broke the skin. Anyway, Bode stabbed his sister and then she punched him in the arm. Then she wailed very loudly, which hurt his eardrums.
BB: So why is Mom named as a party in the suit?
Ralf: According to Bode, his mother did not have control over his sister, which led to him being punched in the arm and having to listen to his sister cry.
BB: What kind of a person sues his own mother and sister for a childhood injury which obviously had no effect on his racing?
Ralf: That is a very good question. In my opinion, the injury was a good thing because it made him want to be faster than his sister. If anything, his sister should sue him for the scar, her pain and suffering, and the trauma of being beaten by her brother because he became faster than her.
BB: Was there really a lot of pain and suffering? I was stabbed in the arm with a pencil by my friend when I was in second grade and the pain went away after a few minutes. I was fine after that and suffered no lifelong trauma from that incident. 
Ralf: work for the Blickbild. Anyone who works for the Blickbild has to have suffered some sort of trauma to work there. Why else would anyone be a Blickbild reporter?
BB: Because the Blickbild is known for having the most intrepid reporters and researchers in the business. Only the most intrepid earn the right to be called a Blickbild employee. I could say the same for you because you are the Blickbild's legal consultant.
Ralf: I am a self-employed consultant. The Blickbild happens to pay very well.
BB: So you are our legal consultant for the money. Yet you seem like the type who has not suffered any sort of childhood trauma, so not all Blickbild employees have deep psychological scars. Let's get back to the subject of Bode and his lawsuits. So far he is suing Head, his mother, and his sister. Are there any other lawsuits?
Ralf: Yes, there is the biggest one of all. He is suing every racer who won in Kitzbuehel since 2003.
BB: Really? Is this like a class action suit in reverse? Instead of a lot of people suing one person, he is suing his fellow racers?
Ralf: That's right. He is suing them for not letting him win in Kitzbuehel and cementing his legacy.
BB: What is it with American ski racers and their legacies? Lindsey Vonn says that her records are her legacy and Bode says that Kitzbuehel is his. Nobody in the States really knows or cares who they are. When they retire they will lead anonymous lives or be commentators at the Winter Olympics every four years.
Ralf:  Bode has suffered a lot of mental anguish over not winning in Kitzbuehel. It is the other racers' fault for not letting him win. Every year it seems like he wins the training runs but does not win the actual race. The others really should have let him win the real races as well as the training runs. He would have won Kitzbuehel at least ten times if the others were nicer.
BB: Maybe he should be suing the team psychologist for not preparing him mentally to win the real race instead of his fellow racers. 
Ralf: That makes sense. The team psychologist is the one who helps the racers with mental preparation.
BB: Or maybe he should sue the US Ski Team for not providing him with a witch doctor. A lot of teams have witch doctors, who helped their racers with mental training.
Ralf: That is a great idea! The US Ski Team never believed in witch doctors. If the team had one, maybe Bode could have won in Kitzbuehel. There were a lot of witch doctors looking for jobs and the US Ski Team refused to hire one. Because of the refusal to hire a witch doctor to help Bode with mental training, he could not win in Kitzbuehel. Therefore, he suffered severe mental anguish because he was unable to cement his legacy.
BB: That makes a lot of sense and certainly sounds better than suing family members. One last thought. Maybe he should be suing Head for not providing him with a Mafia hit man to eliminate the competition in Kitzbuehel. Then he would have been the only athlete in the race and therefore the winner by default. He would have fulfilled his wish of winning in Kitzbuehel and furthered his legacy. 
Ralf: That is true. It sounds like Bode has a valid lawsuit against Head, but for the wrong thing. Instead of suing to get out of his contract, he should be suing Head for not providing a Mafia enforcer. Vinnie The Shark could have been Bode's personal hit man instead of Lindsey Vonn's bodyguard.
BB: Exactly! Well, it looks like we are out of time. Ralf, I want to thank you for this interview and helping to explain all of Bode's various lawsuits. Let's hope that he can settle them before the season starts next month so that his fans can watch him for one more season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We have never been sued by our employees even though we should sue our previous batch or reporters for being exceptionally lazy.

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.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Drug Testing

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Canadian World Championship medalist Dustin Cook recently gave an interview to Ski Racing magazine about his experiences with drug testing. Others approached him for interviews about the FIS and drug testing, but he chose us. Yes, one of our not-yet-as-intrepid-as-his-predecessors-but-slowly-getting-there reporters was given the privilege of interviewing the likeable Canadian. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Before we begin talking about drug testing, you and Anna Veith decided to have a competition where you used kangaroos as your champions. How did that go? (see this story)
Cook: It didn't happen. I got the t-shirts made for the kangaroos after long discussions with Anna about the colors. The national colors of both Austria and Canada are red and white. We finally decided that her kangaroo would have the red shirt and mine would have the white one.
BB: That sounds fair. Were the shirts the wrong size for the kangaroos?
Cook: No, they were perfect. But the Salzburg Zoo did not want to lend out the kangaroos for our challenge.
BB: Even though Anna is a local heroine in Salzburg?
Cook: Right. I even offered to go over to see if I could convince the zookeepers to let us borrow the kangaroos, but Anna decided that the competition was off. But we got to keep the shirts.
BB: Now that you and Anna have recovered from your injuries, will you compete against each other on the race pistes?
Cook: I'm sure that we will see each other in St. Moritz at the World Championships. But we won't race against each other. I'm sure that Anna prefers to race against other women because she is sensible and sane. It would be fun to be in a women's race because what guy wouldn't want to be surrounded by lots of women! But I will compete in men's races this season. I  hope to talk to Anna in St. Moritz because she is very nice and has a great sense of humor. (short pause)  Hey, I thought we were supposed to talk about drug testing.
BB: We will get to it, don't worry. But first, I have one more question for you. Is it true that your parents really beat you when you were not polite to others?
Cook: (smiling) Don't all Canadian parents beat their kids when they are rude? I know it seems counter-intuitive that beating your kids makes them polite and friendly. But it works in Canada. It is important for us Canadians to uphold our reputation of being nice. Even Jan Hudec, who was an immigrant, learned very quickly to be nice.
BB: Yes, Jan is one of the friendliest racers in the World Cup. So was Larisa Yurkiw before she retired. How do you feel about Jan competing for the Czech Republic?
Cook: We will miss him on the team, but I'm happy that he will carry on racing. I also hope to see him at races and in St. Moritz.
BB: Let's talk about drug testing. Do you really have to be available at all times to be drug tested?
Cook: Yes. I can be tested any time during both racing season and in the off-season.
BB: Do the drug testers give you any notice that they are coming?
Cook: In the off-season they don't. I have to let the testers know where I am so they can come and test me anytime.
BB: Suppose you decide to go for a last-minute hike in the woods. Do you have to let the testers know?
Cook: Yes. They can theoretically meet me on the trail.
BB: But what if you have too much water while you are hiking and have to pee before the testers arrive?
Cook: Then I guess they would have to wait for the next sample.
BB: Have you ever been in a situation where you were out of touch with the drug testers? For example, have you ever been abducted by aliens who jammed your mobile phone signal?
Cook:, I have never been abducted by aliens.
BB: Do you believe in space aliens?
Cook: I suppose there could be life on other planets, so I guess the answer is yes.
BB: Tell our readers about drug testing at races.
Cook: Everyone who is on the podium gets tested. Once I know I am on the podium for sure, the FIS assigns a bodyguard to make sure I don't sneak off before giving a sample. The bodyguard stays with me until I have peed.
BB: So if it takes you five hours to pee after a race, the bodyguard stays with you?
Cook: In theory, yes. I normally take care of business before a race, so sometimes it takes a while afterward until I have to go again. But the FIS has a great procedure to help the process.
BB: Can you explain the process?
Cook: Yes. After the race the podium finishers and anyone else who is randomly selected for testing go into a special room. We are shown a video of waterfalls, rivers, showers, and running sink taps for about 30 minutes.
BB: What happens if that doesn't work?
Cook: Then each racer is given a liter of water to drink. That usually does the trick for me. But if that doesn't work then the racers are given a liter of non-alcoholic light beer. If anything will make someone pee, it is light beer.
BB: True. Someone once said that people who drink light beer don't like the taste of beer. They just like to pee a lot. What if the light beer doesn't work?
Cook: Then that person must have the world's largest bladder! I don't know because either the video or the water does it for me.
BB: Is there a further step?
Cook: I'm not sure. I heard that the drug testers stick a needle directly into a racer's kidney to get a sample. I also heard that they inject the athletes with a super diuretic drug that makes them pee instantly. But I don't know anyone who either had a kidney tapped or who was given a diuretic drug.
BB: What was you most unusual encounter with a drug tester?
Cook: I was in my bathroom brushing my teeth before bed one night, when I heard a strange noise from the toilet. I looked down in the toilet bowl and there was a little man rowing a little boat. He was wearing a sea captain's hat, a blue blazer, a white turtleneck shirt, and white pants and was holding something up. (watch this video to see him)
BB: I think you have been watching too many TV commercials from the 1970s.
Cook: No, I don't know any 1970s TV commercials. Anyway, the man stood up in the boat. Then he called my name, told me not to flush, then gave me what he was holding in his hand--a specimen cup.
BB: So you're telling me that a miniature man in a rowboat in your toilet had you take a drug test?
Cook: It does sound weird, but it's true.
BB: It certainly beats Lindsey Vonn's drug test at a red carpet event for weirdness. So what happened after you gave your sample?
Cook: He took the cup and rowed away. I thought it was a dream at first, but then I got the results and I was clean. The date of the test was the night I saw the little man. I don't know how he did it, but he found his way to the testing lab in his rowboat.
BB: If you can believe in life on other planets, then you can also believe in little men in rowboats in your toilet giving you drug tests. Well, it looks like we are out of time. Dustin, I want to thank you for this interview. You were nice as ever, so you don't need to worry about Mom beating you for being rude. We at the Blickbild also want to wish you a successful 2016/17 season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters may seem like they are drugs, but they are simply unique.

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.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Is Garmisch Too Unsafe for World Cup Races?

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

We had to fire our intrepid reporters and research team because they got very lazy. Then we hired a new bunch. But they were not as intrepid as their predecessors, so we fired them and got some new ones. That group was even less intrepid and wanted to watch football tournaments instead of paying attention to the ski racing world. So we hired more reporters and researchers who were even less intrepid, and even lazier, than the second batch. But we are sticking with them for now because they are all we have. Due to a recent crime wave in Garmisch, the FIS fears that it may not be safe for the racers. One of our not-as intrepid-as-his-predecessors reporters got a chance to talk to our old friend Hermann Mayer. Herr Mayer was the police chief of Schladming and is now a special consultant to the FIS on crime. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Herr Mayer,  I see that you have two dogs with you. Isn't one bloodhound good enough?
Mayer: You are obviously new. Otherwise you would know that one is Fido, who is almost ready to retire and the other one is Spot, who will take Fido's place. Have you even read any of my previous Blickbild interviews?
Mayer: Ai yai yai! They should have taught you in journalism school to research your interview subjects. You did go to journalism school, didn't you?
BB: No. But I took a creative writing course in high school.
Mayer: I didn't think that even the Blickbild could sink so low. Well, shall we get on with this interview?
BB: Yes, of course. (short pause) Can you tell our readers about the recent crime wave in Garmisch?
Mayer: It was not really in Garmisch, but in one of the neighboring villages.
BB: What happened?
Mayer: Nineteen goats went missing about a month ago.
BB: That's it? A farmer in some village near Garmisch is missing 19 goats and that makes it unsafe for the World Cup races?
Mayer: Possibly. After almost a month, nobody knows what happened to those goats. They could have wandered off on their own, or they could have been stolen.
BB: Were you and your dogs brought in to find the goats?
Mayer: No. But we are aiding the local police. My main job is to make sure that Garmisch will be safe for both the racers and fans.
BB: Who would want to steal 19 goats?
Mayer: My best guess is someone who likes to eat goat cheese or drink goat milk. My team has also been monitoring local restaurants for sudden special offers on drinks made with goat milk, pizzas or salads with goat cheese, or dishes made with unknown mystery meat. We are also checking health food stores for unusual shipments of goat products.
BB: Could the goats have been abducted by aliens or a Yeti?
Mayer: I doubt it. There have not been any reports of space alien activity in the area and there are no Yetis in the German Alps that we know of.  
BB: Assuming the goats were stolen by a human, is this an unusual crime in the Garmisch area?
Mayer: Yes. Most crime in Garmisch involves riding bicycles the wrong way on the sidewalk. Sometimes bicycles get stolen, but this is the first time we have a report about missing goats. But we still don't know for sure if they were really stolen or simply wandered off.
BB: What are the odds of finding the goats alive after being missing for almost a month? When humans are kidnapped, most are killed within the first 24 hours of their abduction. 
Mayer: Goats are pretty resourceful and can live off the land. I would not be surprised at all if they were found wandering in the mountains. Some of the evidence points to them being driven away by a local dog. But the evidence with the dog could be a way to distract us from the real criminal.
BB: So if the goats were driven away by a dog, and are still alive, why are we discussing this at all? It seems to me that Garmisch will be perfectly safe for the races this coming season. 
Mayer: I'm surprised that the Blickbild hired you because you really need some experience on the crime beat of a local newspaper. First of all, the goats went missing from a neighboring village. This crime spree could spread to Garmisch and next thing you know, cows will go missing in Garmisch itself. Secondly, if the goats were indeed stolen, the person who committed this crime could be doing this as a test run for the World Cup races. If he could easily steal 19 goats, it would be child's play to abduct a World Cup racer. Nineteen racers could go missing in Garmisch and nobody would know what happened to them.
BB: Don't you think it would be hard to kidnap a World Cup racer? Between the other racers, the press, their trainers, and the fans, there would be a lot of witnesses.
Mayer: The racers would not necessarily be abducted on a race or training day. They could be taken from their hotel rooms or while out in town.
BB: Who would want to kidnap a World Cup ski racer anyway? They seem pretty high maintenance, plus they eat a lot. A kidnapper could not afford the food bills for one racer, let alone nineteen.
Mayer: There are a lot of strange and sick people out there. Someone out there wanted 19 goats badly enough to take them.
BB: Yes, but goats are useful. You can  eat them if you are hungry and milk them if you are thirsty. A ski racer is pretty useless, though they may be tasty because they have a lot of muscle.
Mayer: What an awful thought! Where did the Blickbild's editor find you anyway?
BB: I got my job fair and square!
Mayer: You may not remember this, but Garmisch was a real hotbed of crime a few seasons ago. Someone stole Julia Mancuso's Go-Pro camera and someone else made death threats against Tina Maze. It is not at all farfetched that someone would want to kidnap a World Cup ski racer, or even 19 of them. It is my job to ensure that Garmisch is safe for all during the races.
BB: If anyone sees the missing goats, what should he do? And how will someone know if those are the correct goats? Are they marked, or are they wearing little Lederhosen?
Mayer: If someone sees goats where they don't belong, he should call the local police. Goats grazing in a fenced-in area are probably not the missing ones. But goats riding in a ski area gondola are suspicious and are probably the missing ones.  And no, the goats are not wearing clothing, nor do they have any special markings. They look like normal goats.
BB: I hope you solve the mystery of the missing goats before the races in Garmisch. If nobody figures out how they went missing, will the races be cancelled?
Mayer: We hope that the races won't have to be cancelled. But to be safe, there will be extra security at the race venue and in town. But we are confident that this mystery will be solved. They will not end up like the army who tried to invade Slovenia a few years ago and ended up somewhere in Siberia.
BB: What happened to that army?
Mayer: You really need to read old Blickbild stories and do your homework. I can't do all your work for you. Fido, Spot, and I have work to do to help the police find the goats and ensure that Garmisch will be safe for everyone.
BB: I think that I have said all I can. Well, it looks like we are out of time. Herr Mayer, thank you for the interview. I hope you and your bloodhounds find the missing goats before the races so everyone can feel secure. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Ai yai yai! We really need our old reporters back.

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.



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Stefan Abplanalp Seeks New Horizons

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Swiss trainer Stefan Abplanalp has resigned his position as head trainer for the Swiss C-Kader. The reason for his resignation was that he is looking for new challenges and wants to expand his horizons. The others have already reported this story, so we would normally avoid it like a cup of hemlock. But we have our own unique perspective on this story. One of our intrepid reporters was able to interview Mr. Abplanalp about his surprise resignation and other things. This interview was conducted before he was hired to coach Hungarian World Cup racer Edit Miklos. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Please tell our readers why you wanted to resign from the Swiss team for the second time. 
Abplanalp: I want a new challenge in life and want to expand my horizons.
BB: That is what you have told the others. But we want to look into why you have such a hard time keeping a job. At first it seemed like you had no job troubles because you were a trainer for the Swiss team until 2012.
Abplanalp: That is correct. 
BB: Did you enjoy your time with the Swiss team?
Abplanalp: Yes. 
BB: So why did you leave?
Abplanalp: There was the story going around that I showed up drunk to a race, which is false. But it was making the rounds of the Swiss tabloids. I thought that the best way to stop the tabloid stories was to go to another team. Fortunately, the Norwegians hired me to work with Lotte Sejersted and Ragnhild Mowinckel.
BB: It's good that the Norwegians believe in second chances. You were doing a great job with Lotte and Ragnhild. Why would you leave when they started having some success in the World Cup?
Abplanalp: I absolutely hated those chocolate and fish cubes that the Norwegians eat at every meal.
BB: You mean ojlmsfjaegger?
Abplanalp: Yes. Who could have  invented such a food? Give me a good fondue any day.
BB: You must have had ojlmsfjaegger from a can because the homemade ones are pretty good. I have eaten Grandma Jansrud's ojlmsfjaegger and lived to tell the tale. They are a beloved birthday treat in Norway.
Abplanalp: Anyway, one of the requirements for renewing my contract with Team Norway was that I had to eat a minimum amount of those things every month. There was no way I could do it, so I took the job with the US Team.
BB: You really need to give the homemade ones a chance. The tinned ones are awful, but the homemade ones are much better. According the the Norwegian team, Grandma Jansrud combines those pickled cubes of reindeer heart with a smoked salmon and chocolate sauce better than anyone. But enough about ojlmsfjaegger. Let's talk about your experience with the US team.
Abplanalp: The US speed team is very talented, but in the end I could not work with them. Some of the ladies thought that they were too good to train with the team and it undermined my efforts. In Switzerland the whole team trains together. Another reason for leaving was that the US team wanted to have more US trainers and fewer foreign ones. So I went back to Switzerland.
BB: You have done very well with your Swiss group, especially Beatrice Scalvedi. She did well in the Europa Cup this past season and also won medals at the Junior World Championships. Don't you want to stay around to see how she develops in the World Cup?
Abplanalp: Once she gets to the B and A Kaders, I would no longer be training her. I would have others to train.  I decided that the time is right for new challenges.
BB: Are your romantic relationships successful?
Abplanalp: What does that have to do with my career as a ski trainer?
BB: A lot. There are people who leave a romantic relationship once the initial glow wears off. They hurry into marriage and end up with multiple divorces. They are generally the same people who leave a job once the excitement is gone. 
Abplanalp: My love life is none of your business! And as for the frequent job switches, there were good reasons. Where do you get your information anyway?
BB: Our intrepid research team watches a lot of TV programs that match our low journalistic standards like Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer. But getting back to new challenges....We at the Blickbild would like to help you find a new job that is challenging and will definitely expand your horizons.
Abplanalp: If you are offering me a job at the Blickbild, I'm not so sure I would take it. 
BB: And we are not so sure that you are intrepid enough to work for us, so the feeling is mutual. Our first suggestion is to get a job coaching a team from Africa or Asia. That would be a big challenge because there are very few Asian skiers in the World Cup and none from Africa. You could be the trainer of the first African World Cup racer.
Abplanalp: That would definitely be a challenge.
BB: The FIS always talks about trying to get the whole world to watch ski races. It would certainly generate a lot of interest in Africa if there was an African World Cup racer. Think of the glory you would earn!
Abplanalp: Do you have a more realistic suggestion?
BB: Our editor knows some Arab sheiks who are interested in hiring a coach from a powerhouse ski country to train their sons to be ski racers. You would earn tons of money and you would train the first Arab World Cup racers. 
Abplanalp: If I were to stay with coaching, I would want to be in a place that actually has snow and support for ski racing. 
BB: Well, that does not sound very challenging at all! We have another suggestion. Have you considered becoming a witch doctor? There is a college in Canada that offers a witch doctor training course. You would not be training ski racers, but you would create potions to help their performance and throw curses at opposing racers. The challenge would be to pass your courses and create potions that the FIS deems legal. Going to Canada would also qualify as expanding your horizons.
Abplanalp: I never thought about being a witch doctor. We don't use them in Switzerland. But I don't think that I want to stop working for four years to become a witch doctor. 
BB: We have one last suggestion. Have you considered working with a ski team on another planet? You could be the first Earthling to be a trainer for another planet's ski team. If that doesn't challenge you or expand your horizons, nothing will.
Abplanalp: How do we know there is even life on other planets?
BB: Last summer Anna Fenninger was recruited to compete for the planet Zorkon in the Andromeda Galaxy. So we know there is at least one planet out there with life. 
Abplanalp: I don't think I would be interested in training space aliens, if they even exist. I prefer to work on Earth. 
BB: We are out of suggestions and we know one thing. You are extremely picky about what jobs you will take. Someone who changes jobs as often as you do should be grateful to us for trying to help you find employment. You are officially hopeless. 
Abplanalp: Uh.....Maybe I need some time to think about your suggestions, ridiculous as they are.
BB: Get back to us if you change your mind. Well, it looks like we are out of time. Mr. Abplanalp, thank you for an insightful interview. Good luck with the job search, finding a new challenge, and expanding those horizons. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our jobs are very challenging and help our employees to expand their horizons.
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.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Injury Prevention

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Injuries have always been a part of ski racing. But this past season, it seemed like there was a record number of injuries. Every week there was a report of athletes injured in races, training runs, or simply getting out of bed in the morning. What were the causes of so many injuries and what can be done to reduce them next season? Well dear readers, you are in luck. One of our intrepid reporters scored an interview with Bob, our favorite contact at the International Ski Federation (FIS), and talked to him about all of the injuries. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Bob, it is nice to see you again. Are you still working in media relations?
Bob: Yes. The position in media relations was supposed to be temporary, but the FIS made it permanent after reading my interviews with your reporters.
BB: The Blickbild doesn't just have ordinary reporters, we have the most intrepid reporters in the business. It's nice to see that we are good for something. (short pause) This past season, over 50 ski racers, from big stars to lesser-known racers, were injured. What seemed to cause this epidemic of injuries?
Bob: There are a lot of theories as to why so many athletes were injured. I'll go into the most popular one by one. The first is snow conditions. There was either too much snow or not enough. It was difficult for service men to decide which type of wax to put on the racers' skis, so they sometimes used the wrong one for the snow conditions.
BB: Do you really believe that all of the injuries were caused by the wrong wax? Surely the athletes' service men know which waxes to use for different snow conditions. That is why they are paid so well.
Bob: I didn't say that I believe this theory. But it is one popular theory making the rounds. Another is that pain killers are masking the little aches and pains that every ski racer has. The racer then pushes himself beyond his limits because the medicine is masking the pain and gets injured.
BB: I'm not so sure about that one. Ski racers have been taking pain killers since the beginning of the World Cup. That does not account for last season's carnage.
Bob: I agree that there has to be something more than pain killers at work. From talking to the athletes, I heard that the snow was a different shade of white than it has been in the past.
BB: That is absurd, even by our low journalistic standards! Are you saying that a ski racer can really tell the difference between the snow being pearl white and eggshell white?
Bob: Yes. It could be that the racers were expecting the snow to be one shade of white and wore the wrong goggles. They could not see the bumps or ruts on the course, which made them crash and get injured.
BB: I don't'd think that the racers would have goggles that would work no matter what shade of white the snow was. Variations in snow color cannot account for all of the injuries that we saw.
Bob: Right. But sunspot and solar flare activity could.
BB: Wait a minute! Our intrepid research team looked into sunspots and solar flares. The past year was a period of low sunspot and solar flare activity.
Bob: Maybe the lack of sunspots and energy from solar flares striking Earth affected the athletes' brain waves and made them sluggish, which resulted in the injuries.
BB: I seriously doubt that low sunspot activity would affect the brain waves of people on Earth and make them sluggish and injury prone.
Bob: You never know. But there has been a lot of volcanic activity on Jupiter's moon Io.
BB: Are you really saying that volcanic activity on the moon of a planet millions of kilometers away is the cause of all the injuries that we saw on the race pistes?
Bob: When you say it that way, it does sound a little ridiculous. By the way, I read that Pluto could have a warm underground ocean and possibly harbor life forms.
BB: You do realize that Pluto is no longer considered a planet? It is a dwarf planet.
Bob: It will always be a planet to me.
BB: So are you going to say next that the alien life forms on Pluto somehow affected ski racers and caused them to get injured?
Bob: You never know! Plutonians could be among us on Earth now and we just don't know it. But I do know that the aliens on the planet Zorkon in the Andromeda Galaxy were upset about Anna Fenninger being injured just before the season started. They wanted to recruit her to compete for Zorkon after her falling out with the Austrian Federation. Perhaps they went out and shot ski racers with their ray guns to get revenge on the FIS for not allowing Anna to compete for Zorkon.
BB: Don't you think that spectators  or course workers would have noticed space men with ray guns on the training and race courses shooting the athletes?
Bob: The Zorkonians could be invisible to Earthlings.
BB: Let's get back to this planet and reality for a moment. Who do you like better, Messi or Ronaldo?
Bob: What do football (that's soccer to our North American readers) players have to do with all of the injuries we saw last season?
BB: I'm the one asking the questions here. That's why I'm the intrepid reporter and you are my interview subject. Messi or Ronaldo?
Bob: Umm...Jan Oblak
BB: Jan Oblak?
Bob: Yes. He is the goalkeeper for Atletico Madrid and has given up the fewest goals in the Spanish football league this season. Even though I live and work in Switzerland now, I am Slovenian and Jan is one of the national team goalkeepers.
BB: I thought you might have answered with Neymar, but now I can see why you went with Oblak. Now that we are back on Earth, here is my opinion about what is causing all of the injuries. I think it is a combination of faster skis and courses that are basically sheets of ice. The athletes are being pushed beyond their limits.
Bob: Wait a minute! That is not fair! People want to see the racers go fast and at their limits. After all, think about some other sports. Do people like auto racing because they enjoy watching cars going in a circle for several hours? No, they want to see crashes. Hockey fans don't actually like the game. They want to see the players fighting. We at the FIS are giving the fans what they want by changing the skis and making the courses super fast.
BB: Isn't athlete safety supposed to be one of the FIS's main concerns?
Bob: Of course it is, but so are ticket sales and TV ratings. If the skiers went down a beginner slope wearing bubble wrap suits, nobody would watch. These days everything is about making the races as exciting as possible for the spectators.
BB: Races are more exciting to watch when there are not big pauses for injuries or theatrics. Whenever there is a big injury break I end up changing the channel on the TV. I'm sure other fans who watch the races do the same thing.
Bob: We have noticed that ratings for curling and ice dancing increase and ski racing ratings decrease whenever there are big injury pauses. But we will soon remedy that by showing films of past crashes to keep the viewers from changing the channel.
BB: Why not just make the courses slightly slower or change the skis to make them safer? I'm sure ski racing fans prefer their favorites to finish the season in one piece.
Bob: You really need to get into the modern world. Sports where athletes are simply measured against the clock and their fellow competitors are so 20th century. There needs to be something more exciting to keep fans interested.
BB: I'm not so sure that your way of thinking will stop the injury epidemic. Ski racing fans that we talked to were saddened by their favorites dropping like flies.
Bob: At our summer meeting in Cancun we will discuss some proposals that fit the FIS values of safety, excitement, entertainment, and high TV ratings. We will keep you posted on the outcome.
BB: I hope you will. Well, it looks like we are out of time. Bob, I want to thank you for another enlightening interview. It was interesting as always. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We polled our staff and they prefer Messi over Ronaldo, though they say that Ronaldo's dives and theatrics are better than Messi's.

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