Tuesday, February 17, 2009

2. Alpensi Biathlon Venue

Pyeongchang is the "hub of winter sports" in Korea; I passed multiple signs and billboards while on the bus today that read Yes! Pyeongchang!, Towards the Olympic Games, Remember, Dream of Pyeongchang! that remind everyone of PyeongChang's vision and passion for the 2018 Winter Olympics. I went for a run at the venue the other day and ventured down into the main ski jumping stadium. Like a jobsite in the spring after the winter thaw, the jumps, stands, landscape, and main building were littered with pipes, tarps, wood, railings, debris and bricks and a few jumps are still covered in scaffolding. In the background I could hear a table saw. The dreary, rainy winter day juxtaposed to the continued work at the jump site illustrated the Koreans' collective drive, despite even a melting winter day, to build this venue to fulfill their vision of hosting nordic, biathlon and ski jumping events for Asia, and for the world.

Here is Carolyn during training. We each have our own green women's "training bib" that we wear during each training session throughout the World Cup season. The men's are orange.

Here is a look at the backside of the course. Oh yeah, we are racing on a golf course. It looks a little bit whiter now, but the rain last week hit the venue pretty hard.

Squint, and you see that that is nearly 50 degrees F. The board on the left prounances an "Urgent Notice" about the closing of the trails to save the snow. The board to the bottom left is one of a few at the venue. The air and snow temperature at both the stadium and on the highest part of the course are recorded throughout the day. This is crucial information for our wax techs, who test skis and grinds throughout the day.

This is a look down wax cabin lane. The puddles are now ice, as the temperature dropped to 20 degrees F and has been slowing climbing back up to the 30s and 40s.

Lanny and I at the venue. Because of Korea's rules on firearms is very strict, we all keep our rifles in a storage room at the venue. For training, we have to sign our rifles in and out each time. Coaches and staff take care of the ammo, and in a similar manner sign out ammo and upon return after training, have each box counted to account for every single bullet.
The following trail photos are from last year when there was a bit more snow. But with the recent colder temps and ability to recover the courses with man-made snow, race conditions are quite similar. To ski on manmade snow is just not the same. Undoubtably, it feels very different. Here, it is dryer - both the snow and the climate. Because of the changing temperatures and the dry wind, the snow on the tracks is icy, transformed, and sugary. When skiing on real snow there is a unique silkiness to the glide that is one of the best feelings in the world. Ah - Vancouver will be nice.

This is the "big hill" on the course.
This is what the "big hill" will look like during the Relay Saturday night, which does not start until 7:15pm. I will race in the second leg this time, starting after Lanny Barnes, around 7:40 or so.

I can't find any photos of our crew racing, so here are a couple of some of the best in the world skiing, crossing the finish line, and standing on the podium.

Okay - post #2, 3 and 4 are on their way.

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