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.

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