2010 Olympic Cross-Country Ski Course Crew #5 – Stage 4
By: Peter Czerny (2010/03/11)
Another amazing day at the Whistler Olympic Park encountering a great variety of folks and taking in the Nordic ski festival sights and sounds in the middle of this beautiful forest. I have been in the Olympic cross-country ski bubble, aware of but not able to follow biathlon, ski jumping or Nordic combined, let alone the eleven other sports that have been bubbling away elsewhere these past sixteen days. The rain and wet snow has returned, lending a misty, mysterious air to the trails – as well as a real challenge for competitors and their wax technicians trying to find the right combo of grip and glide for the last two races: the all-important marathons of the women’s 30km and men’s 50km events. A Norwegian fan sitting beside me on the bus yesterday informed me solemnly that these races are considered by his compatriots to be the true test of the top skiers; none can really be considered to have earned their fame until they have won at these distances. I have to agree that the marathons are very special as the high-speed physical, psychological and technical drama has a chance to develop over a longer time. These events also link back to the origins of the sport where skiing is a practical means of getting yourself somewhere for reasons as fundamental as finding food or company, or as storied as resisting an invasion (Sweden’s Vasaloppet) or saving the baby prince (Norway’s Birkebeiner). Speaking of stories ...
7. The stories that come out of those around while the race roars by
… the Norwegian fan then related a story about trying his uncle’s jumping skis, flying 56 meters and then crashing hard enough to break the ancient boards (apparently Uncle was due for new skis anyways), a feat he was clearly proud of.
... the lone Nepalese skier, Dachhiri Sherpa, an ultra-marathoner I met on his warm-down ski who explained how it was only through an IOC bursary that he could afford to be at the Games, who got wax tips from the industry reps and prepared his own skis, who did the 15km freestyle race in 44:26 (not last by any means) and then stayed on for two weeks to watch, train and represent his country at the closing ceremonies.
... the photo logistics guy who revealed that global sport image services are demanding and publishing shots of the action even before the race has finished, adding a whole new layer of cables snaking under the snow (definitely ‘call before you dig’!).
... and the Czech team devotee with little English but the international language of a smile and a pitcher of beer who told me, hand emphatically on chest, “Lucas Bauer, my heart” (winner of two bronze medals in the 15km free and the 4x10km relay).
8. The novelty of being outside all day (for those of us who tend to be indoors most of the time)
As one earning a living facing a desk, bum on a seat for the better part of my day, being outdoors for over two weeks provides a welcome shock to the system as my face feels the slow heat of the sun, seemingly even on a cloudy day, and I store up lungfulls of mountain air before the approaching return to city life. I pause on the morning of the women’s 4x5km relay, a light drizzle wreathing the still-snowbound spruce and cedars, dreaming about how the history of this valley, the creation of these trails and the running of this fortnight’s worth of elite competitions may have already invested this piece of ground with incredible meaning for the many people who have and will pass over this very spot.
Cheers from the soon-to-be homeward bound.
Quiet Speed in a Spruce Grove.
Polish Fan for Justyna.
50km racers and photographers on a mission