Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Meet the World Cup's Latest Power Couple

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

It is all over the Internet that French giant slalom specialist Mathieu Faivre is Mikaela Shiffrin's new boyfriend. Just like Benni and Marlies and Aksel and Julia in past years, Mathieu and Mikaela are the new Alpine skiing power couple. We would normally avoid ski racing celebrity gossip like a nudist avoids clothing. But we could not resist this story. One of our intrepid reporters caught up with Mathieu and Mikaela while they were on holiday together  in Paris. Let's find out what they have to say. 

BB: How are you two enjoying Paris?
Shiffrin: It is a beautiful city. And very romantic. 
Faivre: I am also enjoying Paris and my time with Mikaela.
BB: Mikaela, is it true what they say about French men?
Shiffrin: Yes. French men have such great accents. I adore Mathieu's accent when he speaks English.
BB: We all know that the French like to eat snails. Mathieu, have you made Mikaela eat snails?
Faivre: No. She seems to prefer her Barilla pasta. 
BB: What about mixing some snails into Mikaela's pasta? They are a good source of protein.
Faivre: I eat snails but have not snuck any into Mika's pasta yet.
Shiffrin: Would you really do something like that?
Faivre: Of course not, cherie
BB: Mathieu, a lot of people in France eat organ meats. Have you ever made pig kidneys or cow brains for Mikaela?
Faivre: Not yet. But if things become more serious with Mika, I will give her my mother's recipe for sheep spleens. Nothing says amour like Maman's sheep spleens in red wine sauce. 
Shiffrin: I'm sure they are very good. But I think I will stick with my pasta. 
Faivre: You are not very adventurous. France is the home to the world's best cuisine and you only want to eat pasta. 
Shiffrin: I'd rather eat pasta than weird animal organs! Who in their right mind eats animal spleens anyway? Do you eat gall bladders too?
BB: Mathieu, I'm sure that your maman's sheep spleens are the world's best. Maybe one day Mikaela will come around and enjoy them as much as you do. And Mikaela, you remind me of Julia Mancuso. She really caused a scandal when when she refused to eat ojlmsfjaegger at Akel Lund Svindal's brother's birthday party. One of the reasons that Aksel and Julia broke up was that she refused to learn how to make ojlmsfjaegger. Things could end very quickly between you and Mathieu because you won't learn how to cook his favourite sheep spleens.
Faivre: I happen to have some of Maman's sheep spleens with me. She made some especially for this interview. Would you like to try some?
BB: I'd really love to, but I'm a vegetarian.
Faivre: No you're not! Nice try! You are not intrepid at all.
BB: Wait a minute! The Blickbild has the most intrepid reporters in the business. Bring on those sheep spleens!
Faivre: I guarantee, you will love them as much as I do. 
BB: OK here goes...one....two....three....(short pause)....Interesting. I think you have to be French to truly appreciate them.  Onto the next topic....It is hard for ski racers to maintain a relationship because they are separated for practically the whole season. What makes you think that your relationship could last? It did not work so well for Aksel and Julia.
Shiffrin: It worked out very well for Benni Raich and Marlies Schild. They ended up getting married and she has a second baby on the way. 
BB: But it did not work out so well for Aksel and Julia.
Shiffrin: Aksel and Julia were together for four years. That is a long time. 
BB: But Julia refused to learn how to make one of Aksel's favourite foods. Marlies regularly cooks schnitzel for Benni. Do you see the difference?
Shiffrin: I see where you're going. This has nothing to do with being separated for a good part of every year, but it's all about Mathieu's mother's sheep spleens. 
Faivre: How do you know what they taste like when you have never tried them? Even our interviewer tasted them. 
BB: Let's move on to another topic. Mathieu, Mikaela has mentioned that she would like to race against men. How would you feel if she beat you in a race?
Faivre: That is a silly question because she would not beat me. 
Shiffrin: How do you know? You and I have never raced against each other, though I am very fast on my roller blades. I could probably beat you roller blading. 
Faivre: We will never know because the FIS does not allow men and women to race against each other. It's just like how do you know that you dislike Maman's sheep spleens when you refuse to try them?
Shiffrin:  I bet you can't go the rest of this interview without mentioning Mom's sheep spleens. Isn't it enough that I enjoy French croissants, cheese, pastries, and wine? 
BB: Let's get off the subject of food completely, since it seems to cause a lot of tension. Mikaela, it seems like you only date ski racers. Is that really true?
Shiffrin: A fellow ski racer knows what it is like to be one, so we have that in common. It makes it easier to deal with everything when your boyfriend has the same experiences as you.
BB: That is understandable. Mathieu understands what it is like to be a successful ski racer because he is one himself. You could use your relationship with Mathieu to promote your sport in the States. 
Shiffrin: I don't think that having a French boyfriend will help promote ski racing in the US.
BB: Sure it will. Lindsey Vonn thinks that she is promoting ski racing by posing in a bikini or nude with a painted-on swimsuit. But how many kids have taken up ski racing because of Lindsey posing half-naked?
Faivre: Men and teenage boys like seeing Lindsey in a bikini, though I personally prefer Mika.
BB: Good save. But here is my logic. If Mikaela will only date ski racers, and boys would do anything to have a chance with her, what will they do? Take up skiing and become racers. A select few will make it to the World Cup, where they would have a real chance of dating Mikaela. But in the meantime, a lot of boys who would have otherwise played baseball, football (soccer to our North American readers), or basketball would be taking ski lessons and learning how to race. The sport gets a big boost and there could be some new stars on the US Ski Team. 
Shiffrin: I thought that winning World Championship and Olympic gold medals helps to promote ski racing. 
BB: That concept is so 2010. Same with posing in a bikini. Now the best way to make ski racing grow is to date a fellow racer. Boys will become ski racers in order to woo Mikaela.  Mathieu, the men's World Cup future stars will thank you for inspiring them to take up skiing. 
Faivre: Wow, I never thought that I would help to promote ski racing in America.
BB: And you would not only help ski racing grow in the States, you could also start a new culinary trend with your maman's sheep spleens. Now that is what I call a win-win situation. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you both for this interview and wish the two of you success in the coming season. We at the Blickbild look forward to watching you race. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters have eaten organ meats and lived to tell the tale.

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. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Henrik Kristoffersen Saga Continues

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Norwegian technical ace Henrik Kristoffersen has been dismissed from the Norwegian ski team. He is not allowed to train with the team or steal ojlmsfjaegger from the team's training table. The official reason is that he wants to be like his teammate Aksel Lund Svindal and have Red Bull as his head sponsor instead of Telenor like everyone else on the team. But, according to the Norwegian federation, Henrik also violated team rules and needed to be taught a lesson. What will he do? Will he train independently or join another team? How will this affect him being able to compete in the upcoming Olympics? The whole ski world is waiting for answers. Well, wait no more. We have all the answers. Our very own Answer Man, who is really one of our intrepid researchers, will tell you everything you need to know about Henrik's situation. Let's find out what he has to say....

BB: Last season Henrik also got in trouble with his federation for wanting to have Red Bull instead of Telenor as his head sponsor. He also alienated his teammates by trying to get all of them Red Bull sponsorship but without all the perks that Henrik alone would get. 
Answer Man: That's right. Henrik would have had his own personal trainers, massage therapists, private gyms, private jets, and his own Mafia hit man and witch doctor to help eliminate the competition. His Norwegian teammates would have been stuck with the regular team trainers and having to fly commercial. 
BB: Taking Henrik's side for a moment, Aksel Lund Svindal has Red Bull as his head sponsor. Henrik said that he wants to be like Aksel and also have Red Bull as his head sponsor. Both Henrik and Aksel are big stars, so why shouldn't they have the same privileges?
Answer Man: Aksel had Red Bull as his head sponsor before the new contract with Telenor was signed and was grandfathered in. And the argument that Henrik wants to be like Aksel does not work with the team. Every boy in Norway wants to be like Aksel. He is a national hero. 
BB: Last season Henrik had the same problem with the Norwegian federation and even sat out the race in Levi as a protest. He had to complete 12 Labours in order to rejoin the team. Did he complete all twelve? (see this story
Answer Man: He did all but the alligator hunting and finding the Holy Grail. It turns out that Henrik is deathly afraid of alligators and refused to perform that task. As to the Holy Grail, it will remain unfound. He did not get a slalom globe last season, which also displeased the Norwegian federation. If he couldn't find the Grail, the least he could have done was win a small globe.
BB: True. It seems that despite completing 10 out of the 12 Labours, Henrik still violated team rules. What did he do?
Answer Man: Henrik violated several team rules. One night he snuck out of the team hotel because he was having trouble sleeping. According to Henrik, he wanted some fresh air. He thought that he would be clever and put a blow-up doll in his bed to fool the trainers who were conducting the bed check that night. Needless to say, the trainers were not fooled.
BB: That hardly warrants being thrown off the team. 
Answer Man: But wait, there's more. Before a big team meeting with Erik Roste, the head of the Norwegian Ski Federation, Henrik snuck into the meeting room. He drew a stick man on the white board in that room, wrote, "Erik Roste is a dope," and drew an arrow pointing to the stick man. Henrik refused to confess to this act, but his teammates all knew that he did it.
BB: What else did he do?
Answer Man: He is also demanding that the Norwegian Ski Federation provide him with his own separate ojlmsfjaegger. Grandma Jansrud makes them for the team, and makes them with love. But Henrik feels that he warrants his own separate ojlmsfjaegger.
BB: I can see why the rest of Henrik's teammates would be upset with him. Grandma Jansrud makes the best ojlmsfjaegger in Norway. OK, I only tasted hers, but I lived to tell the tale. The rest of the team, Aksel Lund Svindal included, seems to thrive on it. 
Answer Man: That's right. At least he doesn't want tinned ojlmsfjaegger, which is terrible. But he wants his own separate ojlmsfjaegger chef. He was told to either eat the same thing that the team eats or be kicked off the team. He opted to leave the team.
BB: Wow, Henrik's story has more twists and turns than a Brazilian soap opera.
Answer Man: It does. He not only alienated himself from his teammates, but he also tormented racers on other teams. My intrepid colleagues have found out that he has been sending Mikaela Shiffrin, Tina Maze, and Marcel Hirscher reindeer meat recipes under a fake name. But they figured out that it was Henrik.  Mikaela, Tina, and Marcel all won reindeer in Levi. It is beyond unsportsmanlike to torment fellow racers like that.
BB: That is terrible! Mikaela, Tina, and Marcel all love their reindeer and would never think about eating them. So what will Henrik do? This is an Olympic year and he needs to be part of a national team in order to compete for a medal. 
Answer Man: Performing 12 more Labours is out of the question. But some other ski teams have offered to take Henrik so that he can compete in the Olympics. They are offering some terrific package deals.
BB: Really? Which countries? As far as I know, Henrik is 100% Norwegian. He would have to sit out a year in order to compete for another team unless the federation releases him. But would the Norwegian federation release him?
Answer Man: My fellow intrepid researchers found out that Henrik could join other teams without the one year waiting period. Four teams have made offers, and they are very impressive.
BB: Are you going to tell me or leave our readers in suspense forever?
Answer Man: The first is Tanzania.
BB: Tanzania is not exactly a big ski country.
Answer Man: That is the point. The FIS wants to expand ski racing into new markets. Africa has a lot of people who could be potential ski racing fans with the right star on its team. The waiting period would be waived so that Henrik could compete for Tanzania immediately. The combination of the FIS breaking into the Africa market and a new country competing at the Winter Olympics is hard to beat. Henrik could get instant citizenship because of his Tanzanian ancestors.
BB: Wait a minute! What Tanzanian ancestors?
Answer Man: The fossils of the first humans were found in Olduvai Gorge, which is in Tanzania. They were our common ancestors, so he can honestly say that he has a Tanzanian ancestor. The Tanzanian government would also develop a special training area on Mt. Kilimanjaro just for Henrik. Since he would be the only Tanzanian ski racer, there would not be any problems with alienating any teammates.
BB: What other countries are willing to take Henrik?
Answer Man: Antarctica has put in a bid for Henrik. He would have the benefit of every day with winter conditions and being able to train on snow all year. He won't have to apply for citizenship because there are no Antarctic citizens. If he got homesick, he could visit a Norwegian research station.
BB: Isn't there something in the FIS' Big Book of Rules about competing for Antarctica since nobody owns it?
Answer Man: No, and that is a benefit for Henrik. No waiting period means that he could be eligible for the Olympics and win a medal for Antarctica. He could also wear a racing suit with a penguin design in addition to a Red Bull helmet. You can't beat that!
BB: I think I would go with Antarctica. No traveling to train and a penguin racing suit. 
Answer Man: Henrik also has an offer to compete for the planet Zorkon in the Andromeda Galaxy. Since there is no specific prohibition against ski racers from other planets in the Big Book of Rules, Henrik could compete without having to wait a year. He could be the first ski racer from another planet to win an Olympic medal. That would bring him glory on both Earth and the whole universe. He could wear anything he wants on his helmet. The Zorkonians would come to Earth to work with Henrik, so he could stay on Earth. The International Olympic Committee is also looking for athletes from other planets to expand the field in the Winter Olympics. Zorkon would be a real win-win situation.
BB: That sounds like a great deal. Henrik would be crazy to pass that one up. 
Answer Man: There is one more offer. It is from Team Freedonia.
BB: Do you think that Henrik could make the Freedonian team? He is not a Mafia hit man.
Answer Man: Vinnie "The Shark" Razzovelli is the team captain and would welcome Henrik with open arms. Henrik would help the rest of the team of Mafia hit men get a chance to actually compete in the Olympics. The FIS Big Book of Rules also does not mention ski racers from fictional countries, so Henrik could carry on racing this season and qualify for the Olympics. I think that this is the best offer for both sides. The Mafia needs a place to launder money and putting that money into Henrik's trainers and ski equipment would be a perfect cover. Red Bull offers Henrik one Mafia hit man. But being part of Team Freedonia means that Henrik could have a whole team of Mafia enforcers. Nobody would mess with him.
BB: If you were Henrik, which offer would you take?
Answer Man: That is a tough one. They are all good. For me personally it would be a tossup between Antarctica and Freedonia. I'd love to have a racing suit with penguins on it, but would also think it cool to be part of a team of Mafia hit men. I'm sure that Henrik would make the right choice for himself if the Norwegians don't take him back.
BB: I agree. It will be interesting to see which offer he takes. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for another interesting interview. Let's hope that Henrik gets his problems with the Norwegian federation sorted out. Races are more interesting when he is part of the field. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We don't have a motto today.

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, June 12, 2017

FIS Summer Meeting

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The FIS wrapped up its annual summer meeting earlier this month. We have always wondered what really goes on at those meetings. Some of the proposals that they come up with are okay, but some are downright crazy. We wonder what drugs everyone is taking or if the sun has baked everyone's brains. Now we can wonder no more. One of our intrepid reporters attended a session of the summer meeting and recorded it on his iPhone. We finally finished transcribing the recording. We will refer to each delegate by his or her country. Let's find out what it says...

FIS: Item number one on today's agenda is the proposal to limit the number of athletes in every World Cup race to 50. The motion is now open for discussion.
Germany: This is a very good idea. There are now so many sports taking place in the winter and not enough time or TV channels to show all of them. I am always in favour of more football on TV. Having fewer racers would open up more TV time for football. 
USA: I noticed that there is only one NFL game on German TV per week. I am in favour of showing more football on TV. 
Germany: Not NFL football, real football. Or what you Americans call soccer.
Sweden: I am in favour of more curling on TV. 
Norway: And more cross country races!
United Kingdom: Let's not forget cricket.
FIS: Cricket is a summer sport that nobody outside the West Indies understands. We are talking about World Cup ski races, which take place in the winter. 
Austria: I am against limiting the number of racers. We Austrians produce the best racers year after year. If you limit the field in a race, the number of Austrian racers will be reduced. 
USA: I always thought it was unfair that Austria got so many athletes in a race. Maybe it will be a good thing to have fewer Austrians in a race to give the other countries a chance to win once in a while. 
Austria: Wow, first you take our trainers, then you have the nerve to complain that we are being unfair. Maybe if you treated all of your racers equally and didn't give your superstars preferential treatment, you would have more athletes in a race. We are the best ski nation in the world and earned those World Cup start places. 
Croatia: My country has a small team and you don't hear us whining about how many athletes we are allotted per race. Maybe you need to go to a safe space with your teddy bear. 
FIS: That is enough. The motion under discussion is not the number of Austrians in a race, but reducing the number to 50. 
France: I don't like this idea, especially in technical races. It happens in almost every race that someone with a bib in the 50s qualifies for the second run. Limiting the field would take that away.
Switzerland: Let's not forget Carlo Janka, who had a 2nd place finish with start number 65. If there were only 50 athletes in his race that day, nobody would have heard of him. 
Slovenia: Our legendary Tina Maze also won a race with a start number in the 50s. 
USA: I am against reducing the field to 50 because I think that is still too many. I make a motion to reduce the field to 30 racers. 
FIS: We just heard a new motion to reduce World Cup race fields to 30 racers. Let's discuss it. 
USA: I will start. Only the top 30 athletes in a World Cup ski race earn points. The 31st place finisher gets nothing. If we reduce the field to 30 athletes, then everyone will earn points.
Germany: What a stupid idea! But what do you expect from a country that gives out trophies to last place finishers?
Austria: Giving everyone points in a race would totally devalue them. Why try your best if you know that you will get a point just for showing up?
Switzerland: At least do the math. Let's assume that the average DNF rate is 15%--
Croatia: Fifteen percent is an average for a course that is set by mere mortals. It is higher on an Ante Kostelic course. 
Switzerland: Ante Kostelic doesn't set courses anymore because your country doesn't have any racers in the top 30 except for Filip Zubcic. And yes, I took his course settings into account with the 15% figure. In order to have everyone be able to earn points in a race, the field should be increased to 34 racers. 
USA: But what if all 34 finish? The 31st to 34th place finishers will be without points. How do you think they will feel?
Germany: Like they will have to improve to make the top 30. 
Italy: They can always do what our football players do--flop to the ground and then convince the referee to give the opposing player a yellow card. Or in the case of a ski race, influence the referee to give him points. 
FIS: The only referees we have at ski races are the gate judges. I don't think that flopping to the ground and pretending to be injured will influence them. The artistry judges could be another story. They could interpret diving as an original move and give the racer an artistry bonus. But let's get back to limiting race fields to 30. 
USA: I was just thinking...30 racers is too many. After all, only three racers, or sometimes four, are on the podium. Those who did not make the podium probably feel terrible. Therefore I propose reducing the field to three racers. It would have the dual purpose of making races short so that there is more TV time for other sports, and everyone would get a podium place. 
Austria: That has to be the stupidest idea I ever heard! Have you even given this proposal any real thought--like who would be picked to be the 3 racing that day? 
FIS: Let's not call each other's ideas stupid, even if they are. 
Germany: Do you really think that the FIS is going to spend all of the time preparing courses, closing the off to the public, setting them, and letting the racers inspect the course for a 3-person race? 
USA: Maybe we could have ten separate races with 3 athletes each. That way everyone not only earns points, they also get onto the podium. It's a win-win situation for everyone.
Slovenia: This is getting more and more ridiculous. I thought that the Blickbild was absurd, but you just surpassed it. In my country only the winners get trophies and the others get certificates. Nobody is traumatised for life because they got a certificate instead of a trophy. 
Austria: It is the same in Austria. Our young ski racers have to earn their trophies and medals. They don't get a medal just for showing up on race day. Not everyone can be a winner.
USA: Oh yes they can! I propose a new motion to limit World Cup ski races to one athlete. That way the racer who starts automatically wins. After all, the second place finisher is really the first place loser. I even propose that the only racer allowed to start would be Lindsey Vonn so that she can easily break Stenmark's record for World Cup wins.
Switzerland: Don't you think that Ms. Vonn would actually wish to beat somebody instead of winning by default because she is the only athlete in the field?
USA: No. She will take a win any way she can to beat Stenmark and have another record. Her records are her legacy after all.  
FIS: I think we have had enough discussion. Time to vote on all of these motions. All in favour of a one-person race with just Lindsey Vonn say, "Aye!"
USA: Aye!
FIS: All opposed say, "Nay!"
Everyone else: Nay!!!!
FIS: The nays have it. The motion for a one-person ski race is defeated. All in favour of a three person race say, "Aye!"
USA: Aye!
FIS: All opposed say, "Nay!"
Everyone else: Nay!!!!
FIS: The motion for a three-person ski race is defeated. All in favour of limiting the field to 30 racers say, "Aye!"
USA: Aye!
Everyone else: Nay!!!!
FIS: All in favour of limiting World Cup race fields to 50 athletes say, "Aye!"
Austria: I move that we keep race fields as they are this season and postpone voting on this until next year. 
Switzerland: I second the motion.
FIS: All in favour of Austria's motion to postpone discussing limiting race fields say, "Aye!"
Everyone: Aye!!!
FIS: The motion passes to leave race fields as they are this coming season and table the discussion until next year. Now onto the second item on today's agenda...
Well, it looks like our intrepid reporter ran out of recording time. But it looks like we will hear more about reducing World Cup race fields next year. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive story. 

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: We are offended that someone is actually more absurd than 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.