Testing times for VANOC

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The Vancouver Organising Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) has successfully completed its operational testing at the Nordic combined and cross–country Sport Events at Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park.

VANOC staff tested field of play, Games–time operations and trained potential Games–time volunteers over the course of two training days and three competition days. The venue will also host the ski jumping Sport Event from 23 to 25 January. "We have had very positive feedback from both the FIS cross–country and Nordic combined management teams that are here to assist us, " said Tim Gayda, VANOC vice president, sport. "Though we had challenging weather the week prior to the events, we would have liked to have been pushed a little harder with the weather this week so that our workforce could test field–of–play operations with more snow–but the sunshine has certainly resulted in a spectacular event for both competitors and spectators. "The events are part of the International Ski Federation's (FIS) 2008–09 World Cup season and featured Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games medal hopefuls, representing a total of 21 countries. Broadcast live to Europe, an estimated 20m viewers tuned in daily for the events while thousands of fans made their way to Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park to cheer on the world's best cross–country and Nordic combined athletes. Spectator response was highly favourable to sport production elements that included bilingual, live colour commentary by Canadian summer (cycling) and winter (cross–country skiing) Olympian Pierre Harvey, European sport announcer Kjell Erik Christensen, and Canadian Olympian and 2006 cross–country gold medallist, Chandra Crawford. Of particular note for VANOC's testing were pre–event snow removal procedures due to the heavy snowfall, medical ski patrollers on the field of play, and running events simultaneously on the cross–country skiing and ski jumping venues. Other testing included:Field of PlayGrooming and hill preparation were tested at the large hill ski jump area. Wind data from the landing hill was continually examined, as well as the operational flexibility to adjust to the weather conditions and the requirements from the FIS management team. "The course is as we want it, " said Vegard Ulvang, FIS chairman of the cross–country committee, and former cross–country Olympic and world champion. "It has a variety of terrain, and we are pleased to see the width of the course that allows for both traditional classic skiing as well as the newer discipline of skate skiing. Aside from some minor modifications, we will not be asking for any changes at Games time. "Press Operations/Venue Media CentreThe Venue Media Centre (VMC) team serviced some 130 local, national and international press and photographers. Positive feedback was received from the international press regarding the VMC, the competition mixed zones and photo positions. Press and photographer feedback regarding access to and movement within the mixed zones, and photo positions and interaction with broadcast media in these areas will be incorporated into planning for 2010. Timing and ScoringAll timing and scoring systems were on time, with no issues. The integration of timing and scoring results with the Olympic Broadcast Services' television graphic systems (athlete names and results, local weather and other graphic inlays) was successful. The transition of data, equipment and staff between the ski jump and cross–country skiing venues during the Nordic combined competition was seamless. TechnologyTechnology played a significant role in the competition through the first–time testing of a number of new services including a scanning check–in system for workforce and the connecting of the venue data centre's information to the 'Olympic backbone', a secure, private 10G fibre network that connects competition venues to VANOC's headquarters. The event also made use of 110 mobile phones and established over 200 temporary internet connections for workforce and officials and ensured broadcast connections. Medical ServicesThe 16–person Medical Services team replicated Games–time field–of–play medical service levels with medical personnel ski patrollers acting as first responders. No incidents or traumas requiring medical attention occurred. Access routes for medical snowmobiles at the ski jumping venue will be re–examined and changed for 2010 allowing for quicker response times for snowmobiles in getting around the broadcast crane. Anti–DopingFive full–time VANOC employees and 40 volunteers from across Canada conducted 34 urine tests and 17 blood tests, on behalf of the FIS, on both randomly chosen and medal–winning athletes. VANOC also worked with the FIS to showcase its athlete outreach booth designed to educate and inform athletes about anti–doping rules and procedures. Venue ManagementThe Venue and Event Management team were tested in their overall coordination and team communication roles, as well as in their ability to react and respond to any operational challenges that occurred. For example, though not being tested at the Olympic level, the Venue team managed larger than anticipated spectator numbers and traffic. OverlayThe Installation of temporary facilities, similar to what will be used for the 2010 Winter Games, were heavily tested due to adverse weather during the pre–event period. Cabling, snow clearing and construction crews were able to meet the demands of daily heavy snowfall during the main installation days leading up to the event. CommunicationsThe Venue Communications Centre provided a central point of contact between functional areas with over 250 radios on 22 different channels. With six key channels covering front–of–house operations, back–of–house operations, medical services, cross–country skiing, Nordic combined and technology being monitored, over 1, 200 radio conversations were recorded during the competition. WorkforceA workforce of approximately 750 (600 volunteers and 150 VANOC staff) took part with many of those teams returning next weekend for the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup. The volunteer workforce included over 200 volunteers from outside of British Columbia who brought extensive Nordic event experience. From 12 January to the conclusion of the two World Cup events, more than 2, 000 shifts were completed by Workforce. The FIS Nordic Combined World Cup, FIS Cross–Country World Cup and FIS Ski Jumping World Cup were the first sport events of the 2009 season. For more information on the Nordic World Cups, visit www. nordicfestival2009. com. For more information on the remaining test events taking place from February to September 2009, including how to purchase tickets, visit www. vancouver2010. com.

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