On Oct. 7, the Whistler Sliding Centre will open for training and remain open six days a week through the winter season as the new Olympic track holds test events and hosts the Canadian team and other international teams.
Dozens of candidates took part in an officials training course this past weekend, and a second camp planned for this coming weekend is already booked up.
Craig Lehto, director of the Whistler Sliding Centre for the Vancouver Organizing Committee, is confident that the facility will have enough trained officials for the upcoming test events at the track, as well as for the Games. Some officials will come from the tracks in Calgary or Salt Lake City, but the emphasis today is on building local capacity for the sport and finding officials who already have beds in Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish.
“The course from this past weekend went well. We went through both the provincial and national level officials certification for luge, and this weekend we’ll be training bobsleigh and skeleton officials,” he said. “We have close to what we need at the level of training needed for the Games, but we’re also endeavoring to get more than we need.”
Between 70 and 100 officials are needed for the sports and many have to be familiar with the rules from two different sanctioning bodies — the FIBT for bobsleigh and skeleton, and the ILF for luge.
The largest number of officials will be the volunteer members of the track crew, which Lehto is starting to recruit. About 40 individuals will ultimately be responsible for operating and maintaining the track to international standards.
Some of the roles other officials will play include race directors for the start and finish areas, officials that weigh sleds and take temperature readings to ensure that none of the sliders is cheating, and administrative positions working with international judges, timers, and other staff appointed by the two federations.
Test events scheduled for this year — World Cup Bobsleigh and Skeleton Feb. 2-8, and World Cup Luge Feb. 16-22 — are also a training opportunity for those officials, as well as a preview as to what they can expect in 2010.
As for volunteers, Lehto says VANOC is in the process of finding people to work both inside and outside the fence during the World Cup events in 2009, and encouraging people interested in volunteering at sliding events to visit www.winter2010.com. The exact number of volunteers required isn’t known yet, but Lehto says they will have a better idea after the test events are held.