Nakkertok head groomer, Dirk Van Wijk is in Pyeongchang to provide expert advice to prepare the Olympic cross-country ski venue. Dirk is sending back regular updates from Pyeongchang.  We hope everyone enjoys the first hand account of Olympic preparation.

We have been here for 10 days  and have settled into a nice routine that is about to change. Until today venue has been  officially closed to skiers and most  of our work has been during the day. A relaxed 9:00am start with a meeting with John Arlberg and the Korean Groomers. Philippe who is the Sport Managers assistant acts as a translator. Communication is slow and difficult.

Tonight is the security sweep where everyone and every vehicle has to be off all three venues. The Police or Military with their complement of sniffer dogs will come in and ensure the venue is clear and safe for all of us. All the venues open to Athletes, Coaches, Waxing teams tomorrow morning. The weather has remained cold, clear with very low humidity. Fingers crossed, this pattern continues…

We are grooming all of the race courses daily and still tweaking track setting patterns, scrub zones etc. On every lap through the stadium area someone is urgently waving one of us over to fill this or level that. This week  we have done course and stadium set up simulations for a variety of events. Nice to practice and work together with the stadium crew. It is their job to let us know where they want all of the start, finish, and lap lane tracks. Their method of providing straight lines for us to follow, is to stretch out their long tape measure and then scratch a line with their boot beside it. We then follow that line to set straight tracks. A little rudimentary but it seems to work. At the Whistler Olympics we used a laser beam.

Last week while they were installing the camera track which parallels the finish they realized that the stadium was between 15 to 30 cms. too high. The shaving down of the snow has been completed with  the excess snow spread out on the first climb. We are still working on getting the stadium perfectly flat.  It is on the “list” again for us tonight J

Also on the list is to form and build ski depot areas and wax test tracks. Ski depots are flat, off course areas where wax techs can spread out their quivers of test skis all prepared with various base structures and wax selections. Test tracks are a pair of descending classic tracks where 2 techs can glide downhill beside each other and determine which skis are faster. The first group of Norwegian wax tech team is already onsite and is providing great feedback.

A few nights ago I had my first Olympic nightmare moment when I clipped a high pressure snowmaking airline with the corner of the tiller combing as I was backing up a hill. I was certain I had broken the hydrant clear off which would have resulting in shutting the system down. Dave Mallory and Ken Lindfors are a long way away to ask for help! Thankfully I just knocked open the valve releasing a jet of high pressure air and making a frightful  noise. All good once we turned off that valve.  Mental note….that valve is right beside the trail! I have renamed that wax test zone as Hydrant Hill.

In my previous note I missed the word “meters”, when I mentioned the 150,000 to 200,000 cubic “meters” of snow on the XC Venue. That translates into approximately 100 million liters of water or the equivalent of 40 Olympic sized swimming pools. Hopefully Cape Town in South Africa doesn’t hear about that.

Have a successful Easterns and Level 3 Officials Course this weekend at Nakkertok!

Cheers Dirk