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.