Very often after finish athletes are saying that their skies were not waxed well or, on the contrary, thank their service-teams for their victory. Sport fans know how athletes look like, get their autographs and congratulate on new medals. Still few of them know that good performance is a result of a big team of specialists. Without their help, that is often unseen, it is impossible to win medals. Here’s some info about the backstage of the Winter Deaflympics.
Cross-country skiing: Good waxing is half of the success
The coach of the center of adaptive sports of Ugra Alexey Yermilov told us about the complicated process of preparing skis for races: «In the last years a great attention is paid to waxing skis. For example, in 80-ies all athletes were skiing on “wooden” skies and winning only with their physical shape. Now everything changed. The experienced service team experts usually do not share all their secrets of preparing skis with their competitors. At first it seems like all skis are the same for every athlete, but this is not true. Theyarealldifferent. We apply an individual approach for every athlete. Each skier has 20-30 pairs of skis. All of them are prepared by the team of technical specialists. Waxing is applied in the evening, and in the morning service team applies emulsions, powder and pastes. Coaches and service team members are testing skis and then provide 3 best pairs of skis to an athlete. It’s up to him to decide which pair to use during the race.
Alpine skiing: first it’s cold, than it’s warm
Before the start of alpine skiing competitions, all skis are prepared as carefully as an athlete. In any alpine skiing centre there’s a zone for waxing and sharpening skis and checking bindings. This is a complicated and difficult job that is done by servicemen or athletes themselves. Every team has its own technology that is kept secret, and use high technology waxing materials that help skis to gain the required speed and flexibility basing upon the condition and configuration of the trail.
The member of the alpine skiing team of USA Cameron Cullas wanted to participate in the Deaflympics and was already included in the national team when he injured his knee 2 months before the start of the Games. Still he came to Russia to support his team as a service man and told us about his work in Magnitogorsk: «Alpine skiing is a technical sport, that’s why service team feels its big responsibility. The most difficult thing is the drop of the temperature. We are testing skis early in the morning when it is still cold. And when the competition starts the weather is warmer, – said Cameron. – Fortunately, it is possible to correct the waxing in the start zone, but still it is not always a success».
The temperature changes not only during the day. It is usually colder in the start zone and warmer on finish. The quality of trail is also influencing the result. Service team is not only taking care of the sliding base: «During the skiing bindings are subject to very big burden, – explained Cameron Cullas. – That’s why it is very important for them not to unfasten. We need to take into consideration not only the weight of the athlete but his style of skiing as well. This is a very big success when the team has good servicemen!»
Snowboarding: more that just equipment
A snowboard is a friend that accompanies athlete on the slope and sometimes is not changing for several seasons. For many athletes snowboard is a lucky talisman that brings success or prevents from injuries. If treated right its preparation for the races is the most important thing before the competitions.
The technology is almost the same as in alpine skiing. Still taking into account that snowboard is moving in almost all directions the big attention is paid to flexibility not to speed. The right sharpening of snowboard plays a decisive role in preparing the equipment.
The service team member of national team Jeffrey Pollok has told about the peculiarities of preparing snowboards: «In each snowboarding discipline we are using different boards. They have different shapes and hardness. Depending on the professionalism and style of athletes we are choosing a shape that will be more suitable.
When the board is chosen, we are sharpening and waxing it. We need to choose the right angle of sharpening and the right wax. Itdependsoftheweatherconditions. For example, now in Khanty-Mansiysk the snow is wet – so we need to choose a special type of wax, and a few days ago it was cold here so we used wax for cold weather. The choice also depends on the discipline: we wax is thicker and denser for halfpipe and liquid for speed disciplines».
Hockey: it’s all about the skates
Robert Miller, serviceman of Canada team, used to work for National Hockey Leaugue team “Buffalo Sabres”. He is very experienced when it comes to preparing the hockey team for competition: “Usually we come over an hour and a half before the team. We hang the uniform, fill the bottles with water, bring over the training puck and make sure everything is ready” – tells Robert.
“Hockey sticks are placed in the particular order so the players can easily find theirs. I also unpack the sweaters and do it very carefully as if I show respect to the uniform. Before the play I will hang them on the players’ places in the locker room” – Robert shares
Among the duties of hockey servicemen is also the preparation of skates. They are sharpened before each training and game. Usually, all skates are being prepared in the same routine but from time to time individual adjusting are required. And serviceman has to turn the sharpening machine on different angles and find the right one.
The sharpening machine is pretty huge, so foreign sportsmen use local machine and just hire Russian specialist. “Usually I do it by myself though. I also have all special instruments to fix the skates if something happens” – adds Robert.
“Once the game or training is over we collect the uniform, hand out towels and shower necessities, and then again collect it. I like my job, we are just like a family. Our job is to make sure that players concentrated on the game only” – highlights the serviceman.
Artur Fayruzov is a sharpening master. He is the one to prepare the skates for Canada team.
Technician always tries to adjust to the individual peculiarities, but here the Canadian servicemen asked me to do the same for all, – Artur comments. – First, skates’ blades are sharpened on the machine, then we smooth the burrs and it’s all done. Sometimes troubles happen during the game. The fastening can lose or blade can break…Every servicemen knows his hacks for different situations”
Before the training or game, player wraps the hockey stick with special cloth tape for a better contact between puck and stick. Every player does it in his own fashion – some wrap all lower part of stick, some just a part of it. Besides, players like to decorate their sticks by alternating the tapes.
Curling: the main thing is to get the ice “going”
In curling it’s all about the ice. There is a whole group of icemakers who make sure that ice is perfect. Sergey Danilov is a specialist with huge experience. He used to work at Olympic games in Sochi. Colleagues call him Aquarius, because he has to spray all fields before the game and during the breaks. “Ice should be made out of very clear water. We do it with hot and cold water and use different conductors. In between the games we water the field again, so it will get bumps” – Sergey shared
Specialists surface the ice so it will be easier for curlers to sweep. With the help of curling broom players adjust the speed of a stone.
“Judges never check the ice. While 15 minutes training players test the ice themselves. The push the stones and watch how they move.” – Sergey told
Curlers have interesting shoes. They have dissimilar shoes: the slider shoe and the gripper shoe for the hack foot. The sliding surface is made out of teflon or plastic.
Another interesting detail is that before pushing the stone, players wipes it to get rid off the tiniest trash particles
What concerns the equipment; curlers don’t have special people to take care of it. “Curler is responsible for his own equipment. The team doesn’t have servicemen for that. If the broom sweeps badly only curler is to blame for that.” – told the coach of Russian team Oleg Prigorenko.
Just like tennis players have their rockets, every curler has his own broom. The hand is made out of plastic and head is synthetic and can move in all surfaces. Mostly the equipment is imported from Canada