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?

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