Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The Jobs. The Venue.

Where did I go?  So Sorry.  So Canadian of me!  But I still have some tales to tell if you want to keep following and in a few weeks I'll be heading to the World Women's Curling Championships in Swift Current, so will have a fresh event to report on.

Well, frankly, I became absolutely overwhelmed by the Olympics!  Can you believe that?  I switched to timing day time draws and after two draws, by the time I got back to my wireless node, I had no piss nor vinegar to drive me into blogger land.  But I did get a few pictures and have been continuing to observe, since venturing back here to the quiet zone.

I didn't get very many pictures of the curling atheletes because, in the volunteer handbook it said "DON'T (actually typed in red) photograph atheletes/VIPs or ask them for autographs".  So, I realized I'd have to use my handy pencil camera to get whatever shots I could.  That's why there aren't many close-ups.  I have a few for you though.

I always had to keep my eye on the lime-green jacketed officials.  They wore the radios and gave the hand signals if there was anything to disrupt a game.  Of course, there weren't very many unusual interruptions.  Once I had a technical time out on my sheet so Andrea Schöp could verify if a stone was a biter or a free guard.  Once, in a men's draw of course, a stone bounced off the side barrier and was heading back into the house.  It got blocked with a broom and literally bounced, so the ice crew had to fix a huge hole in the 12-foot.  When the fifth players subbed into the games, that team's clock kept running, so it didn't affect me.  Mostly, for me, it was just redClock yellowClock redClock yellowClock and TickTock TickTock TickTock about 160 times per game.  I had four games where teams had zero time left on the clock when all of the stones had come to rest.  In one game both teams had zero... that was the GRB SWE tiebreaker.

I'm glad I have some photographs because the venue really was strikingly beautiful.

The timing paraphernalia was pretty straight forward.  But when the games were on, we were working beside the statisticians and they had a very interesting set up.  The stats crews worked in pairs and switched from being PC operator to being Caller/observer, every second end.  The software came from CurlIT and the supervising timers all had lots of international and previous Olympic experience.  Every pair also had a back-up PC, but I didn't see anyone use them. And, in addition to the PC's, the statisticians had two monitors with direct feeds from the overhead cameras above each house.  Most of the TV viewers probably realized that there were eight overhead camera's permanently in place, two per sheet.  So the statisticians could get a view of both ends through these feeds.  That would have been great, a few years ago, when the camera's were static shots of the house, but nowadays, with the ease of remote zoom and pan, these cameras were operated in robotic fashion and were following slides and shots throughout the week, as well as giving us close-ups of the house.  And there was one other teeny little problem.
The PC software screen and the TV camera angles were opposite from one another at the home end.  Before the first draw, the TV crew and the Stats crew pondered this.  (I think it had been dealt with at the previous Olympics with static cameras).  Simple.  They turned the home-end monitors monitors upside down so the image of the house matched the screen on the software where the statisticians were depicting the shots.

All week, folks who came up to our work station, high atop the away end of the arena, were doing double takes on these monitors showing the curlers  hanging upside down from the ice and the stones sliding upward along the ceiling that resembled a sheet of ice.  It worked OK, as long as the stats crew only looked at the screen when they had the overhead shot.

We worked hard to make the games feel seemless for the atheletes.  I timed 15 games; men's, women's, and got to see most of the teams.  The supervising officials were never allowed to officiate a game that involved players from their own country, so there were no Canadian officials for the finals.  Let's hope the same scenario unfolds at Speedy Creek.  OOps.... I'm supposed to be impartial.

I have lots more pictures and stories.  Remember, I think you can get a close-up of the pictures I have posted as "small" if you click on the image.  The teams in the top photo are Bernard and Muirhead.  The jumboTron shows the scores from Draw 11.  The monitor shots were taken during practice sessions.  I'd never have DARED to take the shots during a game! (Too busy!)  I'll try to post every few days, and before I know it I'll be heading down the highway to the big city again.  Population 17,000.  Now THAT, I can handle.

Thanks for following.  So Canadian of me!

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