The Haywood Ski Nationals wrapped up this past Sunday after eight days of cross-country racing featuring some of the fastest skiers in the world, such as Canadian Olympic medalists Chandra Crawford and Sara Renner, and Olympic sprint champion Bjoern Lind of Sweden.
All told more than 700 athletes took part, with the assistance of hundreds of volunteers recruited by Cross Country Canada and their partners at the Callaghan Valley Local Organizing Committee (CALOC).
The weather conditions of the past week, which ranged from sun and spring-conditions, to winter blizzards, put the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic venue through the paces. Organizers used water injection, fertilizer and other techniques to harden up a few softer sections of the courses, including a descent on the sprint loop where several athletes fell.
“We did have some challenging weather conditions last week, which was good for us to experience,” said Rob Bernhardt, director of cross country for the Vancouver Organizing Committee of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games. “In February the weather is typically easier to deal with than the spring conditions we’ve seen in March, but it’s good to have that experience, and of course for the Paralympics as well. It’s only our first year operating, so it’s been great to look back at the experience and to deal with as many conditions as we possibly can.”
According to Bernhardt, skiers from 16 different countries took part in the nationals this year, far more than in a typical year.
While the event was a test for the venue, it was also an opportunity to test volunteers and officials and familiarize them with the venue.
“We have a competition committee of certified and experienced cross country ski officials, and about 150 members on the competition committee for this event, and that all have specific roles,” said Bernhardt. “CALOC was responsible for other activities, like the awards ceremonies, the banquet, marketing, transportation, parking and a host of other services provided around the competition. The whole thing, both on the committee side and competition side, went extremely well.”
Bernhardt says that the venue is also in good shape for next season when Whistler Olympic Park will host a World Cup cross-country event to test the venue for the Games.
“We’re not only in good shape in terms of numbers, but it’s clear the people we have are more than capable of doing what’s required,” he said.