Not only do we own the podium in Whitehorse, but we also have to store it and recondition it for the Haywood Nationals which will take place in less than a week.
Nearly 200 volunteers will be wearing the royal blue jackets that were sponsored by Lotteries Yukon and Apogee, a Montréal garment company. And many of those volunteers have been working on the event for the last month making preparations to host skiers from across the country.
One of the 200 volunteers is John Wright, who put the finishing touches on the medal podium that will be used for the five races. He used one of the Canada Winter Games podiums and gave it a face lift. That was just one of the many tasks that John has taken on to help out with the Nationals.
Over 30 volunteers, many of them ski team members led by Bill Greer, Mike Kramer and Darren Trudeau, shovelled tons of snow onto the trails in early February. The recent melting was discouraging, but thanks to the hours of shovelling, most of the trails have a good snow base.
Bill Greer, chief of course, and Gord Wood, chief of course marking, have been planning and preparing signs to mark the many courses over five days of racing. They have depended on volunteers like Ron McFadyen, who spent many hours placing numbers on the chloroplast signs.
If you thought that timing a race meant standing in the cold with a stopwatch, think again. The timing team, led by Beth Hawkings, has been training and practising all winter to ensure that they will provide accurate results as quickly as possible.
The team of over 20 volunteers will be expected to announce the results within minutes of the race finish. And many of those finishes will be close, so a video camera will also be used to help sort out the finish order. Many of the timing and computing details have been taken care of by Erik Blake who has a knack for that technology.
Many other volunteers work to make the races fair and safe for the athletes. Hand groomers, led by Keith Lay, will ensure that the corners are raked smooth and bare spots covered between each race.
Ginny MacDonald, chief of controllers, and her crew will ensure that all racers ski the correct course and that there are no infractions.
Afan Jones and his course marshals will direct spectators and non-racing athletes so that they do not interfere with racers on the course. Forerunners will ski the courses just prior to each race to look for possible hazards and to “ski in” the tracks. And there will be ski markers, refreshment servers, finish line stewards and so on.
The focal point of all the races will be the ski stadium. Allan Frostad, chief of stadium, will be busy every morning by 5 a.m. along with 20 helpers to lay out markings and fencing so that we present our best possible face to the skiing world.
There are many other volunteers behind the scenes, but there is one important function that most racers and spectators will not see: the Race Office staff, headed up by Susan Tinevez. They will work from morning to night each day preparing start lists, organizing race bibs, answering coaches’ enquiries, publishing and posting results and keeping the information flowing.
Spectators will be welcome of course. After watching some exciting Olympic races, there may be more interest in seeing the action live.
Many of Canada’s top skiers, including Chandra Crawford and George Gray, will be here.
Other Olympians and national champions will be on hand, too. Spectators will be encouraged to watch the action in the ski stadium or on trails adjacent to the Mount McIntyre chalet. Our announcers, Christine Smith and Marc Champagne, will keep spectators informed in both official languages.
Spectators are also encouraged to watch the racing at several points along the race course, but please ask at The Ski Base how to access those spots. Be sure to pick up a cowbell for cheering on the skiers. Cowbells will be available on the race site.
Those who aren’t participating, volunteering or watching, are winners too: the trails will be open for recreational skiing throughout the event, even for those who ski with a dog. Park in the Dog Trail parking area and ski on Dog Trail to Lynx or to Crossroads. Be sure to use a leash for the first 200 metres.
Race courses will be posted so that recreational skiers will know where skiing is not permitted.
Good luck to the volunteers and participants and THANKS to all the supporters, sponsors and city workers who have helped to make the event possible.
We are all winners!