We have been here for almost 2 weeks and are less than a week away from the Opening Ceremonies. Tickets are expensive and we are low on the totem pole, but live close enough to the Olympic Stadium we can see the dancing light show from our townhouse. Looking ahead at the weather, we will likely be grooming at that time to prepare the Stadium and Course for M/W Skiathlon “Official Training” the next day.
The Venue is now open. Teams and Wax Techs are moving in. Ran into Yves and Joel (2 of 6 Canadian Wax Techs) in the wax compound this morning. The courses are open for skiing and testing from 09:00 to 19:30. We have shifted to evening grooming, starting at 19:30 and pretty much wrapped up by midnight. In the mornings we jump on our skis to check track locations, scrub zones and get feedback via John Arlberg. There is no fuel storage anywhere on the venue for security reasons so we meet the fuel truck at 4:00PM daily to fill up the 3 machines.
We are still working on getting the stadium as flat as possible. First we cross till/groom the entire width at a 45 degree angle from the centerline in each direction. Then we finish with parallel runs from one end to the other. We till all the courses with 2 to 3 passes and then do a final pass to set the tracks. For training we are setting tracks on skiers right leaving the balance of the course for free technique. Each pass of each of the 2 courses takes us between 20 to 30 minutes.
In addition, there is always a nightly “Groomer Do” list. A few nights ago we were asked to push snow inside a large tent so OBS could park all of their snowmobiles inside. Good thing we have access to a small PB100 which could negotiate the confined space. Tonight, the Stadium crew have finished installing all of the “Look of Games” bannering along the Finish and now we can level the skiing surface right up to the fence.
Another interesting challenge is to accommodate the Snowmobile Cameras on certain sections of the course. They require approximately 2 meters of space to safely drive alongside the skiers. There is one from the Stadium up the first climb and follows the Red course for almost 1,000 meters. At the 700 meter mark the Blue course joins in and further constricts the width. You will notice on the women’s 30km and men’s 50km classic events we will only be able to set 3 tracks for each course through this section, where the majority of the remaining course will have 4 tracks.
Olympics seem to like acronyms, a few I will share with you;
IOC, International Olympic Committee – I think we all know that one
NOC, National Olympic Committee – For each Nation
OIAC, Olympic Identity Accreditation Card – everyone needs one of these to access various venues and areas within venues. And most importantly gets you meals
VAPP, Vehicle Access and Parking permit. We are fortunate to have a car with a VAPP to a parking area right beside where the groomers are located.
VSA, Vehicle Screening Areas – you drive through, they check your engine, trunk and underneath the car.
PSA, Pedestrian Screening Areas – Similar to the airport
OPN, Open Venue Access – Only for the important people
SID, Sport Information Desk
TST, Training Session Tickets. To access the Stadium grandstands on official training days
OBS, Olympic Broadcast Services – the group that films everything on the venues during the Olympics. They run the rail cams, aerial cameras, fixed position cameras and possibly a few drones (not allowed directly over the FOP). That footage is provided to the various broadcasters, i.e. CBC
FOP, Field of Play…in our case, stadium, race, and warmup courses.
PVL, Pyeongchang Olympic Village
ASP, Alpensia Olympic Park – host of the 3 Nordic venues, XC, Biathlon, Ski Jumping (and “Big Air”)
The majority of the volunteers at the 3 Nordic venues are all young university students. At lunch today I asked about it and this period is their winter school break. Universities in Korea get two breaks of equal length in summer and winter. Very different demographic than the volunteers that helped at the Games in Vancouver. All Koreans, young and older, seem very friendly and happy. Younger bows with respect to those older. They are very conscious of personal hygiene. Quite often I have noticed groups of men brushing their teeth in the public washroom. Hand washing is fully engrained in their habits. Ironically the amount of litter on the venue is outrageous. When I first arrived I would stop on the trail and pick up zip ties, plastic, and pieces of cardboard left behind by the workers installing cabling and TV platforms. Thankfully as we get closer to Day 1, and most construction is nearing completion, I am seeing crews cleaning up.
And then there is the food. Lunch and Dinner are available at the Venue for all volunteers and workforce. Every meal is served buffet style and starts with Rice, Kimchi, Finely sliced lettuce and then there are some interesting options. One day I heaped my plate with what looked like noodles. When I sat down and put my glasses on I noticed each noodle had a set of eyes J. Tonight we are going to Canada House for burgers and beers.
Have a great Day 2 at Easterns – dress warm!