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. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Athlete Profile: Felix Neureuther

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Germany's Felix Neureuther is one of the most-liked ski racers in the World Cup. Nobody has a bad word to say about him, even though he has broken women's and men's hearts all over Europe. One of our intrepid reporters caught up with Felix during a break in a ski camp in Austria that he was conducting and had the chance to chat with him. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: A very belated congratulations on winning a bronze medal in St. Moritz.
Neureuther: Thank you.
BB: Also congratulations on expecting your first child. Will the baby be a boy or girl?
Neureuther: You will be the first to know. Well, the first after family, friends, and the rest of the media.
BB: Fair enough. Your son or daughter could be a third generation ski racer. It will be interesting to see him or her racing against little Maiers, Raichs, Kostelics, and all of Bode Miller's kids. But we will have to wait about 20 years for that. (short pause) Let's talk about your childhood in Garmisch-Partenkirchen as the son of famous and successful ski racers. I assume you learned to ski at an early age.
Neureuther: Yes. My parents were my first teachers. In fact, I was on skis almost as soon as I could walk. That is pretty normal growing up in a ski resort. I was skiing down the Kandahar downhill course while still in kindergarten.
BB: It is well-known that the German star footballer (soccer player to our North American readers) Bastian Schweinsteiger beat you in a ski race when you were kids. How did it feel to be beaten by a football player?
Neureuther: Bastian did both ski racing and football when he was a child. It was the only time he ever beat me. Afterward, he was more interested in playing football.
BB: Did your parents bribe young Bastian to start playing football so that he would not beat you in ski races anymore?
Neureuther: Basti and I were friends as kids and are still good friends to this day. Our friendship has nothing to do with him changing over to football after beating me in a kiddie ski race.
BB: Would you say that your parents encouraged you to be a racer, or did they force you into it?
Neureuther: My parents have always been very supportive and encouraging. They never forced me to race. I did it because I enjoyed it. Anyway, it is natural for a child to go into his parents' profession. A lot of doctors are sons of doctors, lawyers are sons of lawyers, and kids grow up being groomed to take over a family business. Even the oldest sons of witch doctors become witch doctors.
BB: Lindsey Vonn claims that her father used to beat her, shock her with a cattle prod, and send her to bed without dinner when she lost races. That is why she always wants to win. Did you parents ever punish you like that for not winning races?
Neureuther: Never. As I said before, they were very supportive. I could not ask for better parents.
BB: They even gave you milk and cookies when Bastian Schweinsteiger beat you? Even when you disgraced the family by getting beaten by a football player?
Neureuther: How many times do I need to say that Basti and I were kids at the time? He only beat me once. I evidently got over it because we are good friends now. You seem to be the one who keeps bringing it up. Didn't you ever get a higher score on a math test than the class nerd?
BB: Yes, one time.  In third grade I got a better score on a math test than Thomas Finnegan, who was the smartest kid in my class. 
Neureuther: And what did Thomas Finnegan grow up to be?
BB: A mechanical engineer. 
Neureuther: There was one time in your life that you got a higher math score than the class genius, yet he is a mechanical engineer and you are a reporter for the Blickbild. And yes, my parents gave me milk and cake even when I lost races as a child.
BB: Let's say for a moment that you did not want to become a ski racer, but an accountant or a biologist. Would your parents still have loved you as a child?
Neureuther: Of course they would have loved me! What kind of question is that?
BB: We at the Blickbild ask the questions that nobody else dares to ask. What about your child? Suppose he or she has no talent for skiing and the only Olympics that he or she will compete in is the Math Olympics. Will you still love your child?
Neureuther: I will love my baby no matter what he or she wants to do in life.
BB: Even if he or she becomes a biathlete like his or her mother instead of a ski racer like you?
Neureuther: Yes!
BB: Suppose you have two children. One child is a talented skier and outstanding junior racer. The other wants to be a nuclear physicist and has zero interest in ski racing. Would you favor the child who is a ski racer over the one interested in physics?
Neureuther: I would hope that I would love both children equally. After all, my parents did not disown my sister because she stopped racing. They still love her.
BB: It sounds like you will be a very good father even if your kid doesn't turn out to be a ski racer. Now let's talk about the famous Austrian TV incident in St. Moritz with Manuel Feller. You crashed Manuel's interview to tell him that he was lucky for winning a silver medal. Was he really lucky, or did he simply have his best race that day? (see this link, which is in German). 
Neureuther: First of all, Manuel and I are friends and he knew that I was joking around with him. We were both laughing through the interview. He had a good race and I was happy for him. He picked a good time to get his first podium place.
BB: But your bronze medal was because of your skill and speed?
Neureuther: That's right. By the way, is this your first job?
BB: What?
Neureuther: Is this Blickbild job your first job in journalism? You really got lucky working for the Blickbild!
BB: Wait a minute! I earned my job because I am very intrepid. We have the most intrepid reporters in the business!
Neureuther: I think that you had some really good luck to get your job. You Blickbild reporters seem to spend more time on holiday than you do writing stories.
BB: The editor was impressed with my writing and interviewing technique.s And of course my intrepidness. Getting this job had nothing to do with luck.
Neureuther: So you are saying that the more respectable publications would not take you, but the Blickbild did? That sounds like luck to me.
BB: Someone here recognized my talent and hired me. Just like Manuel Feller got his silver medal because of his talent.
Neureuther: What would you have done if you were not hired by the Blickbild?
BB: Hey, wait a minute! I'm supposed to be the one conducting the interview. But you seem to be good at it. Would you be interested in a job with the Blickbild? I'm sure you would be hired instantly.
Neureuther: I think I will stick to ski racing for now. But maybe after I retire...
BB: Will we see you in the Olympics next year?
Neureuther: I hope so. And yes, I hope to win a medal or two.
BB: One more thing. In a video that you posted on your Facebook page, you were doing some snazzy ski ballet moves. Are you thinking about taking up ski ballet?
Neureuther: No. I will stick with the technical events.
BB: You would have received some high marks from the judges for your one ski work.
Neureuther: Maybe so, but I still think I am better at slalom and giant slalom races.
BB: Think about the ski ballet and getting a job with us. Well, it looks like we are out of time. We at the Blickbild hope that your baby is healthy. Maybe we will see him or her on the World Cup circuit in about 20 years. We also wish you a successful 2017/18 season and hope to see you on the medal stand at the Olympics. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters are talented and not simply lucky, although they are lucky to be working for us. But of course they are the most intrepid in the business.

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.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Summer Meeting Preview

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

The FIS's summer meeting in Portoroz, Slovenia is coming up soon. It's a real miracle that the powers that be actually get any work done at their summer meetings. They always go to cool places like Cancun, Dubrovnik, or Portoroz. Or maybe that's how they come up with some of their crazy ideas--their brains get baked by the sun. One of our intrepid reporters went to FIS headquarters in Switzerland to try and get a sneak peek of what the FIS will come up with for next season.  We know what you are thinking. We have not put out any stories for a long time and have lost count of the number of reporters we fired because they were more interested in watching the ski races rather than reporting on them. But now we have a new batch who will hopefully do some actual work. Enough complaining about our  former reporters, who made sloths seem energetic. One of our new reporters (who is not quite as intrepid as our original reporters) had a chance to talk with Bob, our favourite contact at the FIS. Let's find out what he has to say. 

BB: We heard through the grapevine and smoke signals that the FIS has several exciting new changes for next season. 
Bob: Yes. I think that ski racing fans will be pleased. After all, TV ratings are very important to us. 
BB: Of course they are. Tell us about the first thing. 
Bob: The men will be going back to the old giant slalom skis.
BB: You mean wooden skis?
Bob: No, the previous type that was replaced by the current type, which was the previous type before being replaced. 
BB: So the previous GS ski, which is the future type of GS ski, will become the current GS ski. And the current skis will become the old, obsolete ones. Got it. What is the purpose of changing the skis so much?
Bob: We switched skis because of injuries. But it seems like the racers were injured more with the current, soon-to-be-past, GS skis than they were on the skis they used before them. But we switched anyway because we didn't realize that there would be more injuries on the new skis. 
BB: Maybe injuries happen because of course settings or making courses icier than ever before. Just a thought.
Bob: The fans want to see the racers pushing their limits. We think changing back to the previous skis should let the athletes go fast and reduce injuries. 
BB: Why not really challenge the racers and go back to wooden skis? 
Bob: I don't think any of them know how to handle wooden skis on a modern giant slalom course. Nobody would even finish a race.
BB: But everything comes back into style after a time. Maybe wooden skis will become the standard in a few years. But I guess we will have to wait and see. We heard that the next thing on the agenda is to increase the number of parallel races. 
Bob: That's right. Fans love parallel races. But we are working on a way to make them even better. 
BB: Really?
Bob: Yes. Instead of two athletes racing side-by-side, we will have eight. 
BB: In current parallel races the athletes take a turn racing from each gate. Will they do the same if eight are racing side-by-side? If a certain gate course is faster, it would keep things fair.  Would there be eight runs per heat? And how would you track all of the times?
Bob: People love watching ski cross because the athletes are racing head-to-head against each other. They don't do multiple runs because one side of the course might possibly be faster. Think of this new format as being a hybrid of  the current parallel racing format and ski cross. It should be a real winner with the fans.
BB: How will you calculate the points? And how many athletes would be allowed with this new format?
Bob: We will figure out how to calculate the race points at the summer meeting. The new format would allow more than the current 16 men and women. Half would be eliminated in each heat until only the final two are left. 
BB: I see. How will you prevent crashes? Even with the two-at-a-time format, there have been cases of racers crashing into each other. Eight athletes on a ramp would increase the chance of crashes.
Bob: The people who set up ski cross races don't worry about crashes or racers tackling each other, like Filip Zubcic did to Felix Neureuther in Schladming. It is all about seeing the racers compete directly against each other as well as the clock. Falls and tackles are part of the game.
BB: Some of the racers who have won parallel events feel like they did not win a "real" World Cup race. How will you change that perception?
Bob: We are talking about increasing the number of parallel races and giving a globe in that discipline. Then the races would seem real to the athletes. Get used to parallel races because they are the future of ski racing.
BB: Just like changing from old skis to new ones and back again.
Bob: Exactly!
BB: The FIS always talks about wanting to expand its audience. One way to get more Europeans and Americans interested in ski racing is to involve guns. Europeans love biathlon and Americans love their guns. 
Bob: I don't think we would have any ski racers left if they all carried guns.
BB: Imagine you are one of eight racers on a parallel slalom course. You not only have to ski fast down it, making all of the gates, but you need the ability to hit a moving target while avoiding being hit yourself. That would get great TV ratings!
Bob: I'm sure it would. But how would the athletes carry both their poles and a gun?
BB: By going back to basics. Young children learn to ski without poles, right?
Bob: Yes, but--
BB: Exactly! The racers will carry a gun instead of poles. 
Bob: But beginning skiers also go down the hill in a snowplow. Ski racing fans want to see the racers go fast, not in a snowplow.
BB: Winning a race by having the fastest time, whether it is head-to-head against others, or by beating the clock, is so 20th century. It is time to bring more excitement into ski racing. Thus the guns.
Bob: But they will end up all killing each other! Each race would be total carnage!
BB: The racers would not be using real bullets. They would either use paintballs or a laser tag system to record the hits and misses. Think of the excitement of watching the athletes ski down a ramp, shoot at a moving target, and dodge bullets. Bring it up at the summer meeting. I bet the others at the FIS would love this idea.
Bob: I'm not so sure, but you never know.
BB: Are there any more changes that ski racing fans can look forward to next season?
Bob: We are talking about getting rid of Super-G.
BB: Wait a minute! As of now, there are already more technical races on the calendar than speed races. How can a speed specialist possibly compete for an overall globe if approximately two-thirds of the races are technical?
Bob: He or she will have to be very consistent or not lose the technical skills. Super-G is basically a shortened downhill, or as we like to call it, Downhill Lite.
BB: I think that the fans will protest getting rid of Super-G. A lot of racing fans love it.
Bob: Super-G is the newest discipline, introduced to the World Cup in the mid-1980s. It is not one of the classical disciplines. But we at the FIS understand that a lot of fans like it. Therefore, we will replace it with something that the fans will appreciate just as much.
BB: Are you going to tell us or leave us in suspense?
Bob: You don't have the world's biggest readership, so I feel safe telling you this secret. We are going to replace Super-G with ski ballet. There will even be a globe for it! Imagine...our best ski racers can not only go fast down a race course, they can dance on their skis. (see this video)
BB: Ski ballet? Seriously? I thought it died back in the early '90s.
Bob: As you recently said, everything old becomes new again. We would modify it to make it even more exciting, like requiring the ski ballet dancers to throw their poles in the air and catch them after doing a spin or other acrobatic maneuver. There would be deductions for dropping the poles or not catching them. Think rhythmic gymnastics on skis. Imagine Mikaela Shiffrin dancing in a tutu or Aksel Lund Svindal doing ski ballet in a sequined suit.
BB: Who in their right mind would want to do this?
Bob: Anyone who wants to earn World Cup points, especially speed specialists when we get rid of Super-G.
BB: Next you're going to tell me that there will be a ski ballet globe.
Bob: Wow, you really are psychic! We will be increasing the number of small globes to six:  downhill, giant slalom, slalom, super-combined, parallel slalom, and ski ballet.
BB: One more thing. This is a bit awkward, but won't people be turned off by ski ballet because it would be perceived as
Bob: I think that ski racing fans will appreciate the athletic ability required to spin, do flips, and do artistic things with poles while on skis and the perception of it being gay won't be an issue. If macho-looking men like Dominik Paris or Aksel Lund Svindal start doing ski ballet, then that perception will go away very quickly.  Anyway, several ski racers, for example Felix Neureuther, have a large gay following. If ski ballet helps to increase the number of gay people watching ski races, then we will be happy. TV ratings are very important to us and we want as many people as possible all over the world to enjoy our wonderful sport. It doesn't matter if our fans are gay or straight.
BB: Are you gay?
Bob: No. What does it matter anyway?
BB: It doesn't. But I thought I would ask because our readers might like to know.
Bob: And now they do. Shall we move on to the next question?
BB: Okay. What about giving ski ballet a more macho image by requiring the athletes to use guns?
Bob: What is it with you and guns?
BB: We are talking about changes that will make ski racing more exciting. The most exciting movies and TV programmes always involve guns. It is time to bring them to ski racing. Imagine two athletes doing ski ballet at the same time. One does a triple spin and then aims his gun at his competitor, who tries to dodge the bullet by doing a flying camel spin on skis.  That would certainly be more exciting than watching someone in a shimmery costume simply doing spins and flips on skis. 
Bob: I don't know.
BB: Are there any other things that will be discussed in Portoroz?
Bob: No. Those are the main ones.
BB: Oh, there is one more thing. Why are the FIS summer meetings always on the coast? How much work really gets done at these so-called summer meetings?
Bob: We at the FIS work very hard to bring fans the races that they want to see. Therefore, we deserve a little holiday too. You would be amazed at the ideas that are generated after spending 8 hours lying in the sun.
BB: Judging from our interview, and past ideas like three-run slaloms and short course downhills, I can easily imagine what goes through everyone's minds at the FIS. As they say, idle minds are the devil's workshop.
Bob: The expression is, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop."
BB: Same thing. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for another interesting interview. Ski racing fans are definitely looking forward to all of the changes next season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Idle minds are the Blickbild's workshop.

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, January 19, 2017

What to Do, What to Do....

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

Lindsey Vonn stated in an Austrian TV interview that she would not know what to do with herself if she could not race. We at the Blickbild are not professional career counsellors, but we decided to do a good deed and help a damsel in distress. One of our intrepid reporters convened a group in a town hall style format to help Lindsey figure out her future. OK, the offer of free ice cream, chocolate, cinema tickets, and Amazon gift cards also helped us get people. Let's not forget how we got the teenage boys--we showed them a photo of Lindsey in a bikini and told them that they could see her in person. Nothing is too low for us! Lindsey appeared with her dog Lucy in this unique town hall forum. Let's find out what she has to say.

BB: Lindsey, there will eventually come a time when you will have to stop racing. Have you thought about that time and what you will do?
Vonn: I just don't know what I would do without being able to race. Ski racing is my whole life. Maybe there is a senior circuit where I could race when I am older. Or I will just stay in the World Cup until I am 80.
BB: Why not become a trainer? You would be on skis and passing on your knowledge and wisdom about racing to the next generation of ski racers. That could be very rewarding to see one of your pupils have a successful career. 
Vonn: Oh hell no! What if one of my students breaks my records? That would be devastating! My records are my legacy and nobody should ever be able to break them. 
BB: What about becoming a writer? Your first book was a success and there could be many more in your future.
Vonn: That was a lot of work to write my book. My sister Laura is still mad at me because I didn't choose her to ghost write my book.
BB: What about being a dog trainer or kennel owner? You have three dogs, so you have experience handling them.
Vonn: I don't know. That seems like hard work. I had a hard enough time training Lucy on where to pee.
BB: I may lose my reputation for intrepidness here, but I give up. It's time to ask our audience to provide suggestions. 
At this moment, Lucy starts barking furiously.
Vonn: Lucy! Stop that barking now! Bad dog!
While Lindsey is trying to stop Lucy's barking, an audience member speaks up.
Audience Member 1: I am a dog trainer and also a canine-to-English interpreter. Lucy is telling us something. Let's listen for a moment. 
Everyone is silent while Lucy barks for another minute, then stops.
BB: Okay Dr. Doolittle, tell us what Lucy just said.
AM1: This is strange...a squared plus b squared equals c squared...that is the Pythagorean Theorem.
Vonn: The what?
AM1: Now she is saying minus b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus 4 a c over 2a. That is the Quadratic Formula.
BB: Wow, it seems like Lucy is a very intelligent dog.
Vonn: Of course Lucy is very smart. She is my dog!
Lucy (speaking through AM1 as an interpreter): Thank you. I know that Lindsey likes to make excuses for when she does not win races, but she had a valid one last weekend in Zauchensee when she said that the snow was different between training and the actual race. It was. Because of the weather over the course of the day, the snow's coefficient of friction changed. Her service man did not take that into account when waxing her skis and that is why she did not win.
Audience Member 2: I thought it was because the snow during the race was a different shade of white than the snow in the training run.
Lucy: It sounds like someone needs to go back to school to learn some basic physics. Next question.
Audience Member 3: Lucy, I can tell that Lindsey loves you very much.
Vonn:  I really do. Lucy is the best dog ever!
Audience Member 3: Why doesn't Lindsey put you into her speed suit when she races so you can be with her all the time?
Vonn: That would not be legal and I would be disqualified.
Lucy: That is technically incorrect. There is nothing in the FIS's Big Book of Rules which specifically prohibits racers from putting animals inside their speed suits. But having me in Lindsey's racing suit would change her center of mass and affect her skiing.
BB: Come on, Lucy. Did you really read the Big Book of Rules?
Lucy: Of course I have. When Lindsey is racing, I need to do something to occupy my time. Hanging out with the service men can be rather boring. I do a lot of reading. In fact, I just finished reading War and Peace in the original Russian.
Audience Member 4: Lucy, is it true that space aliens can compete in FIS-sanctioned races?
Lucy: Again, there is nothing in the Big Book of Rules mentioning beings from other planets. So the answer would be yes.
Audience Member 5: Lucy, what is the capital of ancient Assyria?
Lucy: It would be the capital of modern-day Syria--Damascus.
Audience Member 5: What is the velocity of a laden swallow?
Lucy: An African or European swallow?
Audience Member 5: Oh I don't know. I thought they were all the same.
Lucy: You need to learn about swallows. They most certainly are not all the same. Next question.
Audience Member 6: You are a real genius about physics and FIS rules. So why did it take you so long to learn the proper places to weewee?
BB: That is a very good question. Lucy?
Lucy: I am helping Lindsey generate publicity for the sport of ski racing. Every time I pee in the wrong place, it puts Lindsey, and therefore ski racing, in the news. Lindsey thrives on being in the limelight, and I help to keep her there.
Vonn: Lucy! You just peed on me! Bad dog! Look what you did! I'll have to throw away these pants.
Lucy: You made me wear that awful sweater for one of your press conferences. I was so embarrassed to be seen by other dogs in that thing. What were you thinking? Now I have my revenge for that sweater. I hope that Leo or Bear chewed it up so I'll never have to wear it again.
Vonn: I will have to leave you home with Leo and Bear and find another dog to replace you for peeing on me.
Lucy: I'm surprised I lasted this long with you. Leo and Bear were thrown over for younger models rather quickly. I knew my time would be coming.
BB: Whoa! Let's not get into a fight here. Lindsey, I can see why you don't want to become a dog trainer. It takes a special person to be one and you are obviously not it. Well, it looks like we are out of time. Lindsey and Lucy, I want to thank you for this interview and I also want to thank the people who came to our little town hall meeting.
Vonn: Wasn't the purpose of this town hall meeting to help me figure out what to do with my life? You certainly failed because I still don't know what I would do except race some more.
BB: We did not fail because our readers got to know you and Lucy a little better. But everyone is ready to go home and so am I. We are done here. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters are smarter than dogs.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine skiing, please follow us on Facebook. We are also on Twitter as bostonblickbild.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Making Austria Great Again

A Boston Blickbild Exclusive

What has happened to the mighty Austrian Power Team? So far this season the athletes are performing like they are the Austrian Sissy Team. The only Austrian man or woman to get on the podium this season has been Marcel Hirscher with his win in Levi and two second places. Austria's legacy of past greats is being tarnished. To add insult to injury, Italy tops the Nations Cup standings. What can be done to make Austria great again? One of our intrepid reporters had the chance to interview new Austrian co-trainer Werner Franz. It appears that he has the perfect plan to restore Austria to its usual ski racing glory. Let's find out what he has to say.

BB: Should our readers be concerned about the recent decline in the Austrian Team?
Franz: No. On the women's side there have been many injuries. Eva-Maria Brem and Carmen Thalmann suffered season-ending injuries. Anna Veith is still recovering from her injury. For the men Matthias Mayer just came back from fractured vertebrae and Hannes Reichelt from back surgery. 
BB: I understand about all of the injuries and that it takes time to get back to racing form after them. But how long can you use that as an excuse?
Franz: Let's see how well you can report ski racing news if you injured your hands.
BB: The Blickbild has the most intrepid reporters in the business! We can always improvise. You can do anything with a Swiss Army knife. But back to Austria. What is your grand plan for bringing back Austria's glory?
Franz: First of all, the plan is to get the racers back to their winning ways. It is a great plan!
BB: Tell our readers what it is.
Franz: As I said, it is important for our racers and our national morale to get our ski racers winning again. Ski racing is Austria's national sport. We need to ensure that our Sportsmen of the Year are ski racers and not football (soccer to our North American readers) players.
BB: Are you going to explain your astounding plan sometime today?
Franz: Yes. It is the best plan ever to get our racers winning again. It is like no other plan and is simply the best.
BB: One more time. If you do not explain your super plan, this interview will be over. Our readers want to know what your amazing plan is. Does it involve hiring a witch doctor for the team or feeding them ojlmsfjaegger? 
Franz: Okay, okay! The others were simply satisfied with me telling them that the Austrian coaching staff has a stupendous plan to get our racers winning again. You are obviously not like the others.
BB: That's right. So let's hear it, unless of course there is really no plan and you are simply playing mind games with the Austrian people by telling them what they want to hear. 
Franz: You win. First of all, our World Cup racers, except for a select few like Marcel Hirscher, will be relegated to the Europa Cup. If football teams can be relegated for poor performances, then we should be able to relegate ski racers. Our World Cup racers should be able to win Europa Cup races easily and improve their record of wins and podium places.
BB: Let's suppose that being relegated to the Europa Cup level does not make the Austrian racers win. Will the next step be for them to do FIS races?
Franz: Yes. Our World Cup racers should be able to dominate FIS races. Then the next step would be to bring them back up through the Europa Cup and then to the World Cup.
BB: That sounds good. You boost the athletes' confidence by giving them easy opportunities to win, and then bring them back up again. By the time they get back to the World Cup level, they will be winning again and the Austrian ski team will resume its rightful Number One position.
Franz: Yes! You got it!
BB: Playing devil's advocate here, what if your plan backfires? Maybe the athletes feel so demoralized by being relegated that they have no confidence and stop winning. What will you do then?
Franz: This plan should be foolproof because it is so brilliant, but I will indulge you. We will keep on relegating the racers until they start winning, even if it means having them compete in a children's division.
BB: Wait a minute! Won't people be suspicious if they see Olympic gold medalist Matthias Mayer in a race for ten-year-olds?
Franz: Yes, but we would simply say that he is big for his age. After all, if Vanessa Mae competed in a junior race in Slovenia when she was in her 30s, there should be no problem with World Cup racers competing in children's races in Austria. It is all about getting our racers to win again.
BB: That seems a bit extreme. Why not change your training methods or hire a team psychologist or witch doctor?
Franz: We will not hire any witch doctors because we believe Austria is so great already!
BB:  You just contradicted yourself. First you said that you need to make Austria great again. Then you said that it is already great. Which is it?
Franz: (sighs) You media people always come up with absurd trick questions. No wonder our racers are doing so poorly.
BB: You obviously don't read the Blickbild, or you would know all about absurd questions. Do you have a backup plan if relegation does not work?
Franz: Yes. Just like the Swiss a few seasons ago (see this classic story), the men will compete in women's races. The men should easily be able to defeat the women. Their victories over the ladies will give them the confidence they need to go back to the men's division and start winning there.
BB: Has the FIS given the Austrian Ski Federation permission for the men to compete in women's races? It would not let Lindsey Vonn participate in men's races except as a forerunner. 
Franz: We should have no problems getting the FIS's consent because we are Austria. We can get anything we want. The Swiss got special permission for their men to compete in women's races, so the precedent has been set. We will also have our women in men's races.
BB: A woman can't win a men's race because men have more muscle mass than women. How would having women in men's races bring back Austria's ski racing glory?
Franz: We would not really have the women race against the men. We are not crazy! But having the women around would embarrass the men into winning again. No man wants to be beaten by a girl. The men would go out and do their best in order not to be beaten by women, even if the women don't actually start the race.
BB: That is even more ridiculous than something we would come up with. Don't you think the men would catch on after a few races that the women were hanging around in the starting area but not actually participating?
Franz: Hmmmmm...We didn't think of that possibility.
BB: Evidently not. You underestimated the intelligence of your fellow Austrians. Shame on you! What about bringing in successful racers from other countries to compete for Austria? Someone like Mikaela Shiffrin or Aksel Lund Svindal would be real assets to the Austrian team. I'm sure that you could find a way to get a waiver from the two-year residency requirement for switching teams. 
Franz: The Austrian team should be composed of real Austrians and not immigrants pretending to be Austrians just to get some glory through sport. Mikaela and Aksel would also have to go through a long vetting process to ensure that they are not terrorists. By then the season would be over.
BB: What about this idea...Italy is leading the Nations Cup overall standings. Why doesn't Austria invade Italy, or at least the Suedtirol, and bring the Italian ski racers onto the Austrian team? That would be a win-win situation. Austria gets Italy's land and its successful ski racers. 
Franz: What a great idea! I'll run it by Herr Schroecksnadel and the rest of the powers that be at the Austrian Federation at our next team meeting. I'm sure he would find a way to get the Austrian army to invade Italy and put their ski racers on the Austrian team. That could be the solution to our problems.
BB: Invading Italy would be a short-term solution to the problem of the winless Austrians, Marcel Hirscher excepted. But have you or your colleagues thought through a long-term plan? This generation of both Austrian and Italian racers will eventually retire. Who will take their places?
Franz: The Austrian federation has a huge plan for ensuring that future generations of skiers will win races. It is so huge it is gargantuan! Nothing compares to how enormous this plan is.
BB: Ai yai yai! Just tell our readers the details already.
Franz: In Austria we have our special academies where we develop our racers from the time they learn to walk. We originally thought about bringing back the guillotine and installing one at each academy, but someone pointed out that if we chop off the heads of every junior racer who does not finish on the podium, we would quickly run out of ski racers. Parents would not bring their kids to the ski academies for training for fear of them being beheaded instead of simply dropped from the team.
BB: Oh those pesky facts! If the guillotine idea was a failure, what are you doing to inspire Austria's young racers to win?
Franz: We are doing the next best thing with our aspiring racers and bringing back the pillory. If a young racer finishes off the podium, he will be put in the pillory and the fans can throw rotten fruit and vegetables at him.
BB: How will putting young children in a pillory and throwing rotten food at them going to motivate them to win races?
Franz: We heard that Lindsey Vonn's father used to beat her and poked her with an electric cattle prod when she did not win in her youth. She now has the attitude that she must win all the time because second place is really the first loser. We must develop that attitude in our young racers so when they grow up they will win and take their places among the Austrian greats. We will also have pillories at World Cup, Europa Cup, and FIS races. The pillory worked wonders back in the Middle Ages, so why wouldn't it work now. Sometimes older ideas are the best ones.
BB: Doesn't that seem rather extreme? Who is going to pay for the pillories and the cost of transporting them to all of the different race venues?
Franz: Italy should pay for them! The Italians have taken Austria's rightful place in the Nations Cup standings and need to be put in their place. What a magnificent plan!
BB: I'm not sure how the Italians would feel about paying for pillories for Austrian ski racers and their transportation. But that is something to worry about if your plan actually gets approved.
Franz: Why wouldn't it be approved? It is the grandest plan of all!
BB: Let's see how everything plays out this season. Hopefully the Austrian men will find their mojo and start winning regularly so that order can be restored to the world. Well, it looks like we are out of time. I want to thank you for this interview and wish the Austrian team success for the rest of the season. And that concludes another Boston Blickbild exclusive interview.

The Boston Blickbild. Our motto is: Our reporters may not be stupendous, but they are the most intrepid in  the business.

The Boston Blickbild is on Facebook. If you enjoy our unique perspective on World Cup Alpine ski racing, please like us on Facebook. We are also on Twitter as bostonblickbild.

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.

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