Beijing Updates - David Chamberlain
Greetings from Beijing! I have been over here at the Paralympic Games for 6 days doing ski service as a part of the US Para-Nordic (USPN) team. It has been a busy trip, but very successful for the team with 10 medals, two gold, 6 silver, and 2 bronze.
The most challenging part of the trip was getting over here. The Covid measures here in China are very tight. To cross the border into the country I had to have a well-documented series of negative Covid tests and spent several days in a hotel in LA getting all the documentation together. I flew from LA to Beijing on March 4th with a layover in Tokyo. I was a late arrival apart from the rest of the team but was very fortunate to be traveling with my friend Simi Hamilton who was also heading over late to the Games. Simi was a perfect traveling companion, easy-going and relaxed, and together we navigated all the Covid tests and paperwork that we had to submit to get into China. We endured a 12-hour flight to Tokyo, a four-hour layover, another 4-hour flight to Beijing, another Covid test at the airport, followed by a 5-hour bus ride to Zhangjiakou. After arriving at 5 am we headed to the venue at 7 am to get integrated with the team for the first race for the following day. It was a crazy travel experience and didn’t leave a lot of time to get acclimated before the work began.
Waxing has been challenging but very fun. I am part of a 4-person wax team here. Dave Mark is the head of the service team for US Para and leads the show. Jason Kask and Chris Mallory and I are the hired guns. We have had wildly changing conditions over the first 5 races, with morning temps as low as -18C and some of our daytime high temps over +10C. The snow has gone from Start Green conditions up to wet, sloppy, soft snow. There is no fluoro ban here for these races and it has been fun to collaborate and share our almost forgotten fluoro knowledge with the other guys. We all play a hand in testing, applying, managing race and test skis, communicating with the athletes, cleaning up, and filling any gaps with the race day coaching that might come our way. With 15 athletes it is a busy job with well over a hundred skis kicking around the wax rooms every day.
Testing waxes and different application methods has been the fun part. In general, our routine is to pick a powder and topcoat in two separate tests before each race, then take the waxes and run a separate application test where we apply the waxes in different ways and test to find the fastest combination. The trick is to time the tests so we can apply waxes to the athlete's race skis before the start time. Doing this for three different races throughout the day makes for a busy week! Luckily we have worked very well as a team and the result has been some very fast skis.
And it has been successful! Oksana Masters and Kendall Gretsch kicked off the first race with gold and bronze in the biathlon sprint. It has been a flood of medals since with 10 medals in the team overall the disciplines. We will certainly have the opportunity to add some more over the last three races. All of the athletes here are incredibly inspiring and this week has been an amazing experience all around.