Whistler Village, best place to hang while not forerunning!
Watching the Opening Ceremonies on the big screen.
Just in case your wondering, a Forerunner’s job is to ski the course both prior and after the race. Before the race is to make sure all the tracks are skied in to give all competitors equal advantage in the race. In the case of heavy snowfall we are expected to ski during the race on sections where there are no competitors. As for skiing the course after the race or “postrunning”, this seems to be done mainly for tradition and it signals that the course is now open again for training.
So this doesn’t sound to hard but the catch is you start forerunning up to less than 5mins before the start of the race. This means the pace at which is skied is fairly quick (slightly below race pace) because the best skiers in the World are hammering behind you. Also, the goal in Forerunning is to look good skiing in a pack with other Forerunners, and to ski the course technically well. Skiing in front of thousands of people at “The Big Show” before a start of a race is a crazy experience and the pressure can build when it comes to staying on your feet on those tricky downhills.
Other perks that come with the Forerunning gig is while at the Venue we are pretty much treated as athletes or competitors. This means we can ski or train on any of the race trails when we went, or chill and hang out in the Athlete lounge with all the other Olympic skiers. We are also blessed with unlimited free coke products and lunch and snacks cooked at the Venue for Coaches and athletes. I am happy to say I am never hungry and I am always well hydrated.
My first three days spent at WOP we did some TV rehearsal races. This was practice for the race organizers, timers, and for the camera crew to work out all their angles and such. They treated as the real deal, which made it pretty cool to take part in. Some highlights were seeing myself on the big jumbo screen in the stadium, having camera follow you up entire hills, and getting to experience the overwhelming of TV crews and cameras up in your grill.
Sunday we foreran the Nordic Combined event. It was a great race to watch and the course shaped up nicely. Nordic Combine is an exciting event to watch and before now I didn’t know too much about these athletes. It’s fun to see how the event plays out because the best ski jumpers (After getting an up close view of them take the jump, I like to call it ski flying!) are not the best xc skiers. As for the forerunning aspect of this event it went quite well. It was a shorter easier loop so it was good to get a feel for the job before the big and upcoming Cross-country events.
These guys are crazy!
Monday was the first big day for me. The Men’s and Women’s Skate Individual over 15km and 10km respectively. The course was amazing compared to what I found my self-skiing in last week. Last week there was super soft wet soupy snow, slow enough that I almost stopped to check to see if there was Klister on the bottom of my skate skis. But with the hard work and dedication of the Olympic groomers here at WOP they pulled through like we knew they would. Thanks to a little salting of the course most of it was firmly packed on Monday and the only exception was the downhill corners remained tricky with some mushy snow. Also this was probably the nicest day yet at WOP weather wise, with no snow or rain and slightly cooler temps, which made for awesome racing and enjoyable for the spectators.
I only foreran the Men’s race on Monday, we skied pretty quick in tight pack and got the job done with ease. We then got to hang out in the Stadium and watch the race, which was awesome. The forerunner privilege gets us as about as close to the action of the race that anyone can get, even closer than most coaches and media.
This allowed me to snag a couple of sweet pictures.
Start of the Womens 10km Skate.
Petter Northug. All I can say is I'm looking forward to watch him seek revenge in the Sprint on Wednesday.
George Grey starting the 15km Skate.
Alex Harvey finishing up. A solid day, look out for him in the later races!
Ivan Babikov laid down a sweet performance! 8th Place, and he didn't leave anything in the tank.
Killer Piller lunging for 2nd!
That’s all for now, stay tune for a recap of the Sprint race and Pursuit race later this week. Meanwhile I will be chilling out at the WOP, training on the race trails and exploring other local trails, watching Biathlon and taking in some of the Olympic fever in Whistler Village. Stoked!