The past two days I’d reserved for skiing, and what skiing it was. The snow coverage is excellent, but slopes are empty. It was almost eerie to have entire swaths of mountainside all to myself. Whistler’s hotel rooms and condo units are occupied by spectators and athlete support staff, very few of whom are skiing. The only folks on skis tend to be the occasional local and clusters of pole-less smurfs. Smurfs are Olympic volunteers. Once you see their blue jackets, you’ll understand.
The pole-less skiing smurfs have the sweetest job, as far as I can tell. They’re the men and women who slip, slide and simply caress the ladies and mens downhill courses and, whenever they have a break, hit the slopes on Whistler Mountain in boisterous, pole-less packs. At the end of the day they have beers at Creekside. Then they do it again the next day. Nice.
From what I saw during my visit to the alpine press area today, my co-workers in the Olympic News Service are not quite so laid back. They’re working 12-hour days already, and the races haven’t even started. Stories they’ve filed include a profile of the many countries the skiers hail from this year (Cayman Islands, Pakistan, Brazil… let’s just say it’s a record) and the old high-low stories, as in youngest (16), tallest, most decorated, etc. The exotic country and oldest skier stories came together in the 52-year-old slalom skier from Peru. Yes, 52 and competing in the Olympics.
Back to the slopes, today I did spot a few athletes and their support staff from various countries. The skiers whizzing by at death-defying speeds, in perfect slalom form, were out of sight before I could determine their nationality. But some of the non-alpine skiers were easier to spot… especially these Orange Juliuses in the attached photo. I chased them down and asked where they were from. Holland, of course.