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Is This Really Winter?

It’s been really warm here. In fact, someone told me that they captured a screen shot of a weather related website where his last two entries searches were side by side. One was Anguilla in the Caribbean, the other Sochi, Russia. Aided by the fact that it’s mid-day in Russia when it night in Anguilla, the shot had Anguilla at 21 degrees and Sochi at 22!

It’s balmy, even at the ski hill. In fact, there is very little snow left, and what’s left of it is very soft. Salting the slopes (it creates a harder layer that ices up at night) didn’t help since it did not get below freezing at night. Most skiers prefer a hard crust or even “ice” because it’s more predictable and their ski technicians are very good at making their edges razor sharp. So do the team doctors – as strange as it may seem. Hard crust or ice creates slipping accidents, and the newer netting is very good at “catching” a wayward skier.

Salting the slopes

Soft snow creates bumps that send sit skis tumbling, and there is nothing more frightening than watching a sit ski tumble down a steep slope. Those of you with solid stomachs can watch and before you do, I can tell you that he’s OK but ended up taking an impromptu helicopter ride to a trauma hospital. I’m told our Canadian doctor was first on the scene and did an amazing job at directing the rescue effort. I’m proud of our athletes and their preparation, but equally proud of our “behind the scene” staff and volunteers who also spent years perfecting their skills.

Our Canadians did well. A few did fall to these difficult conditions, including one whose ski just detached because the snow was so heavy. It’s a fine line between making sure skis stay one and ripping knee ligaments in a fall. These “premature releases” are never liked, but we have athletes, not gladiators so that will continue to occasionally happen.

The ski techs are equally busy in Nordic skiing. Some skiers cannot use poles due to amputations or paralysis, so they have to use their leg power to go uphill and the ski techs are their best friends! Our Canadian start Nordic skier Brian McKeever won our first gold medal and needed two guides to split the work so they could keep up with it. This guy never ceases to amaze me, just recovering from a cold and still beating the closest competitor by a minute. That was a proud moment for Canada!

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