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Posted: March 12, 2015

Volunteers help deliver a world-class event

As the spectacular Panorama Mountain Resort hums with the excitement of hosting over 100 athletes from 25 countries for the IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships, another high-performance team is also in motion, making it all happens: the volunteers.

They’ve come from across Canada as well as Australia, Great Britain and the U.S.; 120 in total. Friendly, efficient and committed, volunteers pay their own way to the event and many have been working together at ski competitions for years, some since before the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games. They work for four to 19 days and have expenses covered while onsite.

“Just to be involved with this is an incredible experience,” said chief of equipment Bobby Stewart of Jindabyne, Australia. Stewart has been at it since 2004 and manages equipment including radios, drills, skidoos and dye packs, making sure everything is ready to go, every day.

“There are some very exceptional athletes who have overcome great physical difficulties to be able to ski as fast as able-bodied people, and it’s the camaraderie between the athletes, the coaches, the volunteers,” Stewart said. “It’s a pretty good working relationship.”

Volunteer coordinator Nancy Brush of Panorama, coordinates all 120 volunteers. An event planner with 25 years’ experience in the ski event business, Brush organizes the group using an enormous spreadsheet and stresses that every single role is critical.

“They’re all great and every role is important,” said Brush. “You have your chief of course and your course workers and they work really hard, and then you have the mother who comes in and collects the bibs at the end of the day, and you have to have it all. You can’t run the race the next day without a bib and you can’t run the race the next day without a course.”

Volunteer assignments include electronic timing, hand timing, wiring, intervals, gate keepers, gate judges, chief of gates, course workers, course crews, course chiefs, bib collectors, retail, media and people managing the crossings on the course.

“It’s just really gratifying that they all come with a happy heart and a willingness to learn and to create a great event,” said Brush.

Pam Carefull and her husband John are here from Newcastle, England. She is a gate judge and he is working on the course. Pam got hooked on Games while volunteering in London and Sochi and convinced her husband to get on board for Panorama.

“She’s been so inspired by it, I thought it’s the thing to do,” said John. “It’s a great time.”

Keltie and Bruce Law, from Burlington, Ont., are in their fourth year of volunteering at IPC events.

“We’ve always been very involved in our kids’ ski racing careers as volunteers and parents, so this is just an extension of the whole program,” said Keltie, who is assistant chief of gates. “We love the people, we just have so much fun out here. It’s hard work but it’s very worthwhile and it’s just a great experience.”

Husband Bruce, a member of the course crew, added, “A lot of the coaches and refs and TV are saying that this crew – I’m not saying me – these guys are the best in the world at what they do. It’s amazing to watch, and the athletes and coaches are very complimentary.

“These people are selfless.”

The IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships ended March 9.

Alpine Canada Alpin

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