Wednesday, February 24, 2016

If I Had a Hammer...

 Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Lindsey Vonn's video of her destroying the ski that came off during the first downhill race in La Thuile last Friday is all over the Internet. That is what happens when you post something on social media--it never dies. The others have written about the destruction of the ski, Head's reaction to it, the fans' reaction to it, and even the reaction of people who never heard of Lindsey Vonn. In fact, the most mail that we have received was about Lindsey's rage against her ski. Here to talk with one of our intrepid reporters, and to provide our unique perspective on this story, is our intrepid researcher who went undercover at Head two years ago (see this story). He still does not want to be identified, so we will refer to him as "IR." Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: I see that you still do not want to be identified. Are you still worried about repercussions from Head?
IR: Yes. The powers that be are not very forgiving and have an incredibly long memory. Head also has a large stable of witch doctors and Mafia hit men. I could have a curse put on me or find a horse's head in my bed one morning.
BB: They seem to have forgiven Lindsey Vonn destroying her ski.
IR: Yes, but I am not a blonde female ski racer who brings in big money for Head.
BB: No, you are not. If you were, Head would have forgiven you for exposing its plans for world domination. But let's get back to Lindsey and her ski. Was it really defective?
IR: No. She made a mistake and the ski came off like it was supposed to.
BB: Would taking a hammer to the bindings ensure that the ski would stay on next time?
IR: No. If the ski did not release, Lindsey would have suffered another injury. But hammering the binding would make it worse, not better.
BB: Why did Lindsey wait several hours after the race to pound on her ski with a hammer?
IR: The short answer was that she did not have a hammer with her during the race, so she had to search for one. She was obviously never a Girl Scout.
BB: What does being a Girl Scout have to do with carrying a hammer while competing in a downhill ski race?
IR: The Girl Scout motto is, "Be prepared."
BB: I thought that was the Boy Scout motto.
IR: It is both the Boy and Girl Scout motto. If Lindsey were a Girl Scout, she would have had a hammer with her and she could have pounded her binding while still standing on the side of the race course. In other words, she would have been prepared to smash her ski right away instead of waiting several hours after the race to do so.
BB: Wait a minute! How would she carry a hammer in a race?
IR: In a rucksack of course. She would have the hammer along with: other tools, a first aid kit, spare socks, a flashlight, waterproof matches, insect repellent, sunscreen, a mess kit, a pocketknife, energy bars or dehydrated food, a bottle of water, water purification tablets, a poncho that could be used either for protection against rain or for constructing an emergency shelter, and a phone or camera to record destroying her ski and posting the resulting video on social media.
BB: She would need a very large rucksack for all of those things and it would be quite heavy. Wouldn't that make her a lot less aerodynamic?
IR: Yes. But what is more important in the grand scheme of things, winning races and setting records, or being able to build an emergency shelter on the side of the course if a sudden blizzard comes up?
BB: What are the odds of there being a blizzard that requires an athlete to stop and build an emergency shelter on the side of the course to wait it out?
IR: I admit they are slim. But it is best to be prepared for anything that could possibly happen, even if the odds are extremely remote. Nobody ever imagined that Marcel Hirscher would almost get hit by a drone during a race and it happened.
BB: True. (short pause) Let's say that Lindsey was a Girl Scout when she was younger. Would she have wanted to join the Boy Scouts?
IR: I would imagine so. She wanted to race against men a few seasons ago and the origins of that wish had to come from somewhere.
BB: Would the Boy Scouts have allowed her in?
IR: Probably not. The Boy Scouts are for boys and the Girl Scouts are for girls. Just like FIS women's races are for women and men's races for men.
BB: Getting back to Lindsey and her hammer. If she started carrying a hammer and other tools during races, would that set a precedent for the other athletes to do the same?
IR: It could. In fact, the FIS could start requiring the athletes to carry survival essentials during races.
BB: Wouldn't that make races slower and less exciting?
IR: Yes. But slower speeds would mean fewer injuries. And if a racer were to get injured, she would be able to perform First Aid on herself because she would have a First Aid kit in her rucksack. She would also have some food and water to eat and drink while waiting for a sled or helicopter. If the sled or helicopter takes a long time to come, she could build an emergency shelter and a fire.
BB: Wouldn't the fire melt the snow on the race course?
IR: Yes. But that's a small price for the other athletes to pay for letting their  injured colleague stay warm, dry, and fed and not dying of hunger or hypothermia while waiting for the sled or helicopter.
BB: What is the purpose of the dry socks?
IR: When the injured racer gets to the hospital, she won't get foot fungus from wet socks. She has dry socks to keep her feet warm.  
BB: And if an athlete loses a ski during a race, she would have a hammer in her rucksack so that she could pound on her ski immediately instead of waiting several hours to find one.
IR: That's right! Or if she were really handy with tools, she could even use a screwdriver or wrench to bash her bindings. The FIS is even thinking of adopting the motto of, "Be prepared" instead of its current one of, "We're always right even when we're wrong."
BB: Ski races will certainly be more interesting if the athletes had to carry heavy rucksacks full of survival essentials. Who knows how many emergency shelters and fires we'll see on the sides of race courses in future seasons. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for your time and insight. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters are not only intrepid, they are prepared for anything that may or may not happen.

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, February 18, 2016

Change of Venue

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

We had to fire all of our reporters because they were slacking off too much. They may be intrepid, but they also preferred to ski instead of report on the races. We could not tolerate that behavior any longer. It took a while to train the new batch of reporters to be as intrepid as their predecessors. Now that we have some new reporters, we have new stories.
We really wanted to report all of the wrong places where Lindsey Vonn's new dog has peed. But the others have already reported that story. Besides, our journalistic standards may be low, but they will never sink that deep. So we are reporting on something else. Many races this season were cancelled or rescheduled due to weather conditions in Europe, namely too much or too little snow. The FIS has come up with a solution to prevent this from happening again. Here to talk with one of our not-quite-as-intrepid-as-his-predecessor-but-getting-there-quickly reporters is Bob, our old friend and contact at the FIS. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Bob, tell our readers what you are doing now.
Bob: I'm still in media relations, but I am now part of the race venue committee. We decide where races will be held every year.
BB: Can you tell us any new places for the ski races next season?
Bob: Yes. This will be announced to the world soon enough. We have five new places that have never hosted a World Cup race.
BB: Are you going to keep racing fans in suspense, or will you tell us?
Bob: The five places are: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Manama (Bahrain), Qatar, and Muscat (Oman).
BB: Wait a minute! All of those places are in the Middle East and none of them have any snow in the winter.
Bob: That's right.
BB: So how can those places host World Cup ski races without snow?
Bob: All of them have indoor ski halls. The races will be there.
BB: Are you saying that the racers have to travel from Europe to the Middle East for races in an indoor ski hall?
Bob: No. All of the World Cup races will be held in those five places.
BB: This is getting absurd, even by our standards.
Bob: You obviously have not worked for the Blickbild very long. Otherwise, you would realize that the absurd is the norm. It all makes perfect sense.
BB: Maybe to you, but to the rest of us it is ridiculous to hold races in ski halls in the Middle East.
Bob: I'll start with the first point. Ski racing is an outdoor sport. Races get cancelled, delayed, or interrupted because of bad weather, lack of snow, or wind. In an indoor ski hall, weather and lack of snow are not factors. The temperature is controlled and there is always the right amount of snow. No more disappointed fans and athletes because of race cancellations.
BB: Point taken.  I can understand that fans get disappointed when they buy tickets for a race and it ends up getting cancelled. But why the Middle East?
Bob: What better place? Dubai hosts many world class sporting events. Qatar will host the 2022 football World Cup. Al-Jazeera is based in that region and would broadcast the races to a new audience. Our goal at the FIS is to increase the popularity of ski racing worldwide.
BB: I thought that athlete safety is important to the FIS.
Bob: Of course it is. On the subject of safety, indoor ski halls are much safer than outdoor courses with their bumps, rolls, and compressions. We can make the courses nice and smooth for the racers, which would make for fewer injuries.
BB: Indoor ski halls have short pistes. How can you have a world class downhill race on a course that is only a few hundred meters long?
Bob: We will run downhill and Super-G races in several runs, adding the time for each run. The one with the lowest combined time is the winner. The two-run downhill in Zauchensee was a success and I'm sure that a seven-run downhill in an indoor ski hall will be even more exciting.
BB: Won't a seven-run downhill be tiring for the athletes?
Bob: Not really. If you add the distances, it would be the same as a standard downhill race. The Super-G would be six runs and GS and slalom would be four. After all, if two runs was good enough for Zauchensee outdoors, seven will be even better indoors.
BB: How would a Super-Combined or Alpine Combined race work?
Bob: We would have fewer runs for the downhill, perhaps five. Then we would have two slalom runs. The one with the lowest time is the winner. We are even thinking about using half of the ski hall for the downhill or Super-G portion and the other half for the slalom runs.
BB: Where would the spectators sit or stand?
Bob: We will construct bleachers so that spectators can sit and watch the races.
BB: What about people who are at the ski hall to ski and care nothing about the races?
Bob: We would leave a small area of the ski hall open for recreational skiers. But once they see how exciting ski races are, they will want to watch.
BB: I'm sure they will. (short pause) You said before that all of the races will be held in those five places. Part of the excitement of the World Cup is seeing the athletes compete in different venues. Some of them are classics like Val Gardena and Kitzbuehel.
Bob: That's right. We will designate one location for the downhill races, one for the Super-Gs, one for GS, one for the slaloms, and one for the combined races. Since the distances are very close, it is not a problem to do a downhill in Dubai followed by a Super-G in Abu Dhabi the next day.
BB: Where will the racers live? It seems like it would be a pain to fly back and forth from Europe for training and races.
Bob: The FIS will construct a special compound for the athletes, probably in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Or we could even have one on the beach in Bahrain. The racers can race in the mornings and spend their afternoons lying in the sun on the beach.
BB: Where would the racers train? In the ski halls?
Bob: Yes. We would either designate an area of the ski hall for training or even construct a special training hall.
BB: What do the athletes think of this proposal?
Bob: We at the FIS stopped listening to the athletes a long time ago. They never like anything we propose, so we stopped asking for their opinions. Remember, we at the FIS are always right, even when we're wrong. Anyway, with all races being held indoors, we will never have to worry about cancellations due to bad weather ever again. Race organizers won't have to deal with refunding money to people who paid for race tickets. It's a win-win situation. We would also be creating jobs in the area. We will need people to build the athletes' compound and also to assist with the races in the ski halls.
BB: Hmmmm...will foreign workers be paid slave wages to build the athletes' compound?
Bob: Let's not get into the politics of rich emirates importing poor foreign workers to do construction work. That has nothing to do with bringing World Cup races to a new audience and increasing our worldwide TV ratings.
BB: Are the ski halls already in place?
Bob: Yes. We just need to build the athletes' compounds and then we will be ready.
BB: I'm sure ski racing fans can't wait to see every World Cup race from a Middle Eastern ski hall. I know I'm looking forward to no more race cancellations due to weather. Well, it looks like we are out of time. Bob, I want to thank you for talking with the Blickbild. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive  interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our offices are indoors, so we don't have to worry about the weather.

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.