I lead my blog post for the 2008 Canadian Nationals with a shot of the inukshuk at Whistler Olympic Park, so I thought I would do so again, only this time with a different composition.
I was in Callaghan Valley for another pre-Olympic warm-up event. This time it was the Viessmann World Cup that was held at Whistler Olympic Park in Callaghan Valley. The facility is really coming together now that the day lodge is done. This will likely be the last event for me at this facility until the Games begin in a little over a year.
We were able to grab the ski rental room in the day lodge for our daily Course Marshall’s meeting. Which was much better than being jammed in with everyone else like we were last year.
This event was a couple of notches higher than last year’s Canadian Nationals, both in terms of intensity from the athletes and in terms of ‘officialdom’.
All of the athletes, coaches, trainers, industry staff, and jury wore special bibs that identified them to each other and to those of us working the course. This was extremely helpful in terms of managing traffic.
The event was broadcast on television, although I do not know if any Canadian stations picked it up. A news report in the Vancouver Sun mentioned that the TV audience was in the millions, mostly from Europe. It also meant a quick crash course on media relations. On my first shift, I took up my customary station for the start of the Men’s Sprint Finals, which turned out to be smack in front of Bruce’s camera. All he could see was my blue and yellow “MARSHAL” vest. I heard that the director said a few choice words.
The press corps was also out in force. This is about half of the photojournalists that were attending. I was amazed to see that on the second day, they all had lenses that were 2 to 4 times bigger than what they were using here on the first day.
There were a lot of big names from the cross-country world attending the event. Here you can see Vergard Ulvang (centre left – green bib) talking with Pierre Harvey (centre right, blue shell).
Vergard is a three time Olympic gold medalist from Norway and Pierre won three World Cups for Canada. Vergard is current Chair of the FIS Cross-country committee and Pierre was calling the race for broadcast. Since he was in the broadcast booth right at the finish line, Pierre had an excellent seat to watch his son Alex win a dramatic bronze medal in the Men’s team sprint event, just 0.6 seconds behind the gold medalists. Vergard stopped by for a chat on his way around the course, as did Pierre.
Pietro Piller Cotrer of Italy (Killer Piller) complained to the press that the course was too easy. It could have been because the weather was fabulous for the whole event. It was cool in the morning, but when the sun crested the ridge, it felt like someone had turned on a heat lamp! It made for fast conditions and kept the wax crews busy testing and trying to give their athletes an edge.
It seemed to me that the pace was much faster than what I saw last year.
While there may not have been a big television audience, there were quite a few spectators. There was even a VIP seating section, although I never did see anyone sitting there. Everyone was always standing to better see the skiers battle down to the finish line.
The organizing committee threw a beer & pizza party in the spectator tent, which was much appreciated. After standing all day, it was nice to sit down, have a cold one and munch on some pizza.
It was also a chance for the volunteers to grab some keep-sake photographs.
A short event meant there was little time off to take many photographs. I did get a chance to take some sunrise shots at Whistler and in Callaghan Valley before my shifts started. I had forgotten how beautiful the colours of a mountain sunrise are.
A slide show of these shots is here.