We are a few hours away from the Women’s 4 x 5 relay. 2 of whom will ski 2 laps of the 2.5km course using classic technique and then 2 will ski the same course twice using free technique. The 2.5km course is imbedded into the 3.75km Blue course. Last night we groomed / tilled everything perfectly flat and then Lars worked with the stadium crew to set up the 5 classic tracks in the start grid and a set of 2 classic tracks in the lap lane. Fairly straight forward stadium a little more complex on the course. Jury wanted 4 classic tracks up the first 500 meter climb out of the stadium to accommodate the mass start. There is a narrow gap at the top of the climb where the red and blue course split and there is not enough space for 4 tracks plus a free technique lane. I kept the set of 4 tracks on the red side, did a short 5 meter scrub or neutral zone (no tracks) crossed back over and then set 2 tracks on the right side of the rest of the 2.5km blue course. The blue course is inside of the red course and therefore has many more twist and turns versus the red which follows the outside perimeter of the venue (golf course). Each twist and turn is a neutral or scrub zone as skis will not stay in the tracks. Personally I feel this course is more suited to free technique.
The crowds are back in town in huge numbers. There is a line of traffic driving into town form the main highway (the infamous highway with no exits). Kilometer long line up to get into the Olympic Plaza. The Korean “Bridgehead” had people waiting outside. It is a 4 day Korean holiday due to the Lunar New Year.
The weather is amazingly stable. Clear skies, cold nights, and the days are just around freezing. As we are at 37 degrees Latitude the sun is strong. It feels like those beautiful spring days we get at home.
With the constant wind and very low humidity the snow is noticeably sublimating. Ground is appearing where there was natural snow only a week ago. Thankfully the man-made snow is holding up very well. Next time you watch an event, see if you can notice how dirty the ungroomed parts of the course are. There appears to be a fine sandy dust in the air here. Likely also combined with some unsavory emissions from neighboring areas. Many locals wear masks. All of us notice it in our throats. We have had to wash the windows of our grooming machine multiple times in order to be able to see out. I wonder how the athletes are managing.
European TV rules the agenda of the Olympics. Many events are late at night so they can be viewed during prime time in Europe. The Nordic events in Whistler were held early in the day for the same reason. The Women’s Relay is scheduled to start at 18:30 local time, which will be early morning viewing for Europe and Scandinavia. If you want to watch it live in Ottawa, you will have to get up with Toni Scheier around 04:30. The Women’s relay is followed by Official Training for the Men’s Relay. Thankfully I set the tracks on the extra 800 meters for the 3.33 course last night. We can go on the course once that is wrapped up at 22:00. Another late night – early morning.
1/ 2 tracks on skiers right on the start of the Blue course
2/ 4 tracks up the first hill leaving the stadium area