35 straight nights – 150 hours of grooming.
Marit Bjoergan stole the 30km Classic show on this last day and last XC event. It is Sunday and the crowds were huge. Austria’s Stadlober, should have done a few laps around the course with me in the PB. Unfortunately she crossed from the Blue course over to the Red and skied an extra 300 meters. Then she had a “junior moment” and got a little confused in the stadium. She was leading the chase group behind Marit but ended up 9th. Another great race for USA’s Jessica Diggens, 7th, and 2 other American girls in the top 21. Top Canadians were Emily Nishikawa in 30th and Cendrine Brown 43rd of 45 finishers.
The weather cooperated, no snow and little wind. We were able to groom the courses the night before starting at 7:30, and set the last tracks just before midnight. High humidity and just below freezing resulted in rock hard skiing this morning with the temperature dropping to -4 degrees. If only they could have skied at the opportune time and not wait until 1515hrs when the temp was close to +5 degrees. Very spring like conditions.
If you can handle working late night or early mornings, I would argue that course preparation is the ideal job at a Nordic event. Once the courses are open and the events have started we can relax and watch. However there are a few things that do annoy me and last night I added one to the list.
We have had late night skiers and wax techs following us as we groom. Biathlon events were all late in the evening for TV purposes and they would often come over and do their “cool down” skis at Cross Country as we were grooming. I was tempted to park one of the small Piston Bully 100’s in the underpass between the venues to block it off. One night there were a group out running on the trails just before we were finished. Good thing we noticed and could still clean up their tracks. OBS has been out many nights shifting cameras from course to course. Workers adjusting the massive amount of floodlights to perfectly light up race course for after dark events. One night there was a guy tip toeing around checking security cameras – can’t they wait a day?
Fresh grooming is like wet paint…don’t touch it … it needs time to set up. But last night, there is a snowmobile left along the side, but very much in the way, on the red race course. I went by it once thinking surely someone is around and it will move. After the third time and just before my track setting pass I called Lars and he nicely pulled it out of the way. We were tempted to pull it into the ditch alongside the course. It was still there this morning. It was removed just before the event started to avoid unsightly TV footage.
The only exciting and acceptable midnight trespassers are animals. They don’t go to the TCM’s (Team Captains Meetings) and don’t understand when a course is closed. It happens more often at Nakkertok to see some sort of animal activity between passes. Here there are small deer, the size of goats, who nightly cross the ski courses. We often see them foraging on the grass on the golf course beside the race course.
Security is huge concern at any large event. In Korea young men have a mandatory 23 month military service and it seems most of them are onsite during the games. Their presence is felt at the visitor and workforce personnel screening areas, vehicle screening areas, along the roads, at busy intersections, and at any political demonstrations.
It truly has been a pleasure to be here, meeting many new faces, working with my fellow groomer Lars, and living in a small townhouse with 5 guys. The Chinese delegation has been snooping around and we could be asked to join the next games. Lars and I may be convinced…as long as we can bring our partners!
Best of luck to fellow Canadians, Tom Kennedy and Marc Lyster, who both move in to our home in “Heidi Village” to groom for the upcoming Paralympics. And Len Apedaile who has provided insight for me prior to my arrival and also has a big role at the Paralympics here in Pyeongchang. Thanks to the Canadian wax team for perfecting my skis and even cleaning them off before packing them up today! And of course thanks to my life partner-wife who covered for me and supported the decision for me to be here 100%. I will connect with her (literally) in London, England, tomorrow night.
1/ All of the athletes and Lars and I have made it to the finish of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games J Setting the 6 tracks in the finish corridor for the 30 and 50km classic events. We have to back in and set the tracks out, as there is no way through past the finish line.
2/ With the Korean springtime sun, the little natural snow is rapidly melting off of the fairways, but the artificial snow is holding up well on the trails making ideal conditions for “Golfski”. A new sport first tried in Poland and will be a demonstration event at the upcoming Paralympics. Similar to Biathlon, competitors ski a penalty loop for every shot over par. Concerns from the wax techs, what is the most grass resistant klister**
3/ Security crew fast asleep as I drove in this morning. They have had a long Olympics….I guess we can park anywhere now.
4/ Happy Jury after course inspection on a beautiful Sunday morning before the Women’s 30km. Too bad they had to wait until 3:15pm to race.
5/ The Russian Course Marking team. Helping the Koreans setting up V-Boards and Technique Zones every morning and removing them every night. Stadlober may have a bone to pick with them! Our Classic tracks went straight!
6/ Biathlon Course is stripped down and V-Boards already re-logoed for Paralympics
7/ Security at a roadside demonstration before the Closing Ceremonies.
Sounds like North Korea is dropping bombs….no it is the Closing Ceremony Fireworks.
Thanks for following my “Views”!
See you on the trails back home!