If the Torino Olympics are a school for VANOC and the people putting on the 2010 Games, one of the most attentive people in class is Peter Young, the long-time race organizer for Whistler-Blackcomb.
Young, better known as YP, has been in Sestriere since early February, and will remain there until the Paralympics conclude in mid-March. Hes been working with the jury for the mens races; on the hill inspecting the courses in the morning, sitting in on jury meetings in the evening and participating in discussions about scheduling, training runs and what needs to be done to make the courses safe for racing.
"Ive been having an unbelievable learning experience here in Sestriere," Young said.
"Ive worked on quite a few World Cups and the Olympics is just such a whole other animal in terms of I guess what makes it different is the security and also the media and the whole complicated aspect of the broadcast. Its not just one show that youre looking at if you have to change the schedule, its all the other events that are going on at the same time."
The alpine ski events of the 2006 Olympics were spread over three different mountains, with three different finish areas, in Sestriere Colle, Sestriere Borgata and San Sicario Fraiteve. The situation will be different in Whistler in 2010.
"Here I think its a little more complicated than it will be in Whistler," Young said. "Because in Whistler we will only have one stadium, one big double finish area, so the infrastructure wont be quite as big. Itll be a little more efficient.
"There may be some challenges with the scheduling and potential re-scheduling of events with that setup, but thats some of the stuff were learning now as were here; how it works. Were kind of already working on our schedules and backup plans and what have you."
The finish for the mens and womens alpine events in Whistler will be on the Timing Flats above Creekside. There will be some major reshaping of the area, starting this summer, in order to accommodate the stadium and some changes to the mens and womens courses.
"Well have a double finish at the Timing Flats," Young said.
"The womens course will be coming down Franzs and Frandola and Fortners Corner and that area into the finish. And then the men will be coming down the Dave Murray through Coaches Corner. And at Heinzs Hop, now, the course will hang a tighter right and it will go right out to the power line. And then there will be a new Hot Air for the mens finish.
"The theory is well be able to run training runs for both men and women simultaneously, and that way well be able to keep on with the schedule."
Because of clear, cold weather, course preparations for the mens downhill and combined downhill at Sestriere looked relatively simple, but Young said the race jury worked very hard with local ski instructors and members of the Italian military to get things ready prior to the Games.
"About a week before (the Olympics started) they had 40 cm of new snow, so they had a lot of work to do and a lot of preparation in churning the snow up, applying lots of water to the hill with the water bars to make it really hard," Young said.
"Its sort of interesting to see how with the mens courses they apply a lot more water, its a lot harder then the womens. And also interesting to see how they can change the surface a little bit from mens to womens events by doing a little grooming on top of that water-barred surface.
"For the Paralympics, which will all be here in Sestriere, theyll also recondition the hills so theyre not quite as hard."
All in all, school is going well for Young.
"Ive just met so many great people here in Italy," he said. "I totally respect what theyre doing on the hill. I think theyre doing a fantastic job. Lots of them are wanting to come and work in Whistler in 2010."
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