Sunday, February 7, 2010

Other venues and athletes!

It has been a couple of days since my last post, so I will fill you in on what has been going on.

We have finished our training at Britannia (BRT), so now it is just putting together all of the finishing touches. The venue is still in "Load in", or "Fit Out" status (which means that things are still getting set up). After the security sweep this week, it will become a live venue and we will have to get used to going through the security tent (personal screening area-PSA) everytime we go on venue.

The ice should be ready to go now. The Icemen (that is what they are called at Britannia) have been layering and layering water with a hand sprayer for the last 3 days. They are doing it this way (as opposed to using a fire hose) as it puts less air in the ice and makes it harder. They are hoping to get it to an inch or inch and a half thick. Again, they are doing the same processes at CHP so that this ice will feel the same from practice to game time. One thing that I have learned is that ice is not ice and that at this high level, the condition of the ice (for whatever sport) is important and therefore is closely monitored.

In the past couple of days, I have had the opportunity to visit two other training venues, Killarney (Short track speed skating) and Trout lake (figure skating). They are both live now, so it was good to see how they worked. We went to Killarney to pick up some signage and things for BRT and got a tour of the facility. There were no athletes there yet, so we got to go on the ice. More ice facts: Short track speed skating has ice that is 2-2.5 inches thick! They have mats about a metre thick around the ice (no boards). I hope to go back and see some of the skaters in action to see how fast they go up close.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day at trout lake, shadowing their operations. Nicole Clarke (a former Queen's athlete and A & R employee)is the Deputy Venue Manager there-so she showed me around. It was good to see how another venue works with their volunteers and how they set things up. I got some good ideas to bring back to BRT. It was also especially exciting as it was the first day that athletes came to practice. Although they had training scheduled for the day before, believe it or not, they don't take attendance at these sessions and it is up to the athletes to use the time or not.

So when Transport radioed that a van was in progress, a buzz went up in the building. The first group to arrive was a pairs team from Great Britain. All the staff was there to see them walk in. When it was time for them to get on the ice, it was amazing to see how fast and smooth they skate up close. The rest of the morning, I saw another pair from Germany, and a men's single from Italy. They expect that there won't be a full practice session for a few days as most of the skaters are still not in the village and are training elsewhere.

One thing I also enjoy about visiting the other venues is learning a little bit more about the sport. For instance, did you know that at large competitions they have a group of skaters called "Ice patchers"? Here it is a group of 14-16 (ish) year old figure skaters that come on the ice after each group has skated and patch the hole and divots in the ice (from toe picks) before the OLYMPIA (not zamboni!) comes on. They are all dressed in really cool Vancouver 2010 outfits and do this at every practice and competition.

That about all for today, let me know if you have any questions. I hope that you all have a great Superbowl and that the WF curling team continues on their winning ways!