Being a volunteer for 2010, the adventure so far...

In the early summer, I signed on at the 2010 Volunteer website along with 20,000 - 30,000 others. In late June I got the "pre-screen" call, and was invited to attend an orientation session being held July 20th. Once there, it was a 4 stage process of submitting ID for security clearance (courtesy of the Vancouver City Police), being screened again in small groups, then being interviewed one on one for a specific position, and then attending a "motivational" 2010 group session, with about 24 others.
Communication was to be through direct phone calls, email, and the official volunteer website, and so far has been quite good.

Well, I must have passed all the hurdles, and was contacted ("Olym-picked"?) in August regarding the original position that I was screened for. In October, there will be an ISU World Cup Short Track Skating event in Vancouver at the Pacific Coliseum, being held as a test-run for the future 2010 event, which will be held in that facility. The intent is to give the athletes a preview of the facility they will be competing in next year. Apparently the ice surface has been enlarged to 60m x 30m (the "International" sized rink), and a number of changes were made to the place to accomodate the 2010 requirements. On Oct 20th I was at an "on-site" meeting, and after more security clearance, another "motivational" session with 120 or so other volunteers, it was time to get together with the other 11 in my group. Apparently there are a total of about 300 volunteeers involved in this event.

The small group that I'm in is a sub-group under the "Technical" heading, and we will be doing lap timing/counting support for the event. Back in July, this seemed like an interesting offer, as I would get the change to be up close to the event. Certainly more interesting than directing visitors to the nearest washrooms... We will be working with a Swiss company that makes the timing equipment, and even though it's all computerized, they still need people involved. Apparently the skater's timing is not based on their first foot across the line, but on the first foot still on the ice that crosses the line. So each skater in the group of 4-6 is assigned to one of us "timing assistants", and we mark each time the cross the line. That timing mark is the one used by the computers to display lap times, etc. The photo-finish camera is the final authority on the winner's identity. Apparently among the group of 12 of us, at least 7-8 are members of the BC skating group, and already have local experience with timing and lap counting for these racing events. So they added a few of us rookies to the mix. I was heavily questioned in my interviews on how I handled stress, my attention to detail, and tolerance to cold. Now I know why! We all received a "uniform" of a navy blue vest with logo's, etc. The actual racing will take place Fri-Sun (Oct 24 - 26), and I will to be there for 14 hrs on Fri, 11 hrs on Sat, and 11 hrs on Sun.

Here's inside the Pacific Coliseum, in the final stages of set-up.

A closer look at the official platform.
The large blue platform space level with the finish line is for the TV cameras.
The blue ledge closest to the ice has scattered sheets of paper marking various locations.
The marker furthest away is right on the finish line, and is where the photo-finish camera will be set up.
Next to the photo-finish camera set-up location, is a cluster of 4-5 sheets of paper, and this is where us lap timers/counters will be seated.

Here's the view from further down the bench where the timer's will be seated. Apparently we are not to "high-5" the skaters...

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