Editor's Note: Mark submitted this report following Madjic's win but unfortunately the email was overlooked. We apologize for the late posting.
Mark Waechter is the owner and operator of Nordic UltraTune, a full service stone-grinding shop in Winthrop, WA. He is working ski service with the Slovenian National Team at the World Cup races in Canmore, ALB. He will be posting additional updates at www.ultratune.net.
It was a huge day for Slovenian skiing, with Petra Majdic winning the
women’s sprints. For a small XC country like Slovenia, the impact of a
win is as big as it would be for USA skiing — it’s a huge accomplishment.
The whole team, including the waxing crew, were ecstatic.
Two of the three Slovenian skiers qualified in the top 30 (Petra and Katja
Visnar), while the 3rd skier finished just outside the limit in 32nd
(Vesna Fabjan, nicknamed â€œMunchkinâ€, is recovering from bronchitis).
Petra is the most experienced of the team and has steadily progressed over
several years and has been occasionally finding a spot on the podium in
the past two seasons, mostly in classic sprints. Petra skied really
strong all day. Today was really a big result.
It was another cold and early start to the day— in the wax room shortly
after 6:00. We had prepared many of the classic skis on Tuesday
afternoon, so things would be orderly and not too rushed for the 10:00
qualifier. Temps were again a bit colder than forecast, and some
changes were required.
Classic races have more headaches than skate races, partly because you can
get exactly the correct wax on exactly the right ski, but if it’s not
enough, or a bit too much, then it’s just not right. For each athlete
there are a few pairs of race skis prepared, and waxers standing by to
make adjustments up to the last possible moment. The idea is to make the
skis right so the athlete can put their very best effort on the track.
In a small wax room with 3 wax techs, working with 2 tables, some effort
is needed to make things synchronous and smooth. Roles are established,
and tasks are handled as smoothly as possible, with a little bit of
assembly-line work used to process a lot of skis. There’s not a lot of
pitty-pat time spent on a pair of skis, but I assure you that the skis are
very well cared for. Skis are kept clean — not just the bottom, but the
tops and sides too. Stefan and Gianluca are picky about details which is
a good fit for me. Everything is done exactly correctly, as quickly as
possible. The precision shows in the end, as the skis look great and
run really well.
I was on the course again today for most of the racing. Slovenia has
limited budget, so they traveled with just one coach and the waxers help
with duties on the course. Sprints don’t have much time for a ski change,
but it’s good to have spare poles available on the course, and always good
to have someone along the track to give a shout. I was assigned to the
uppermost sharp uphill turn, which was a perfect spot since it also had a
commanding view of 90% of the course. Though I had a break after the
qualifiers, I was way, way cold by the finals.
There’s no racing on Thursday, but some ski work has to be done to prepare
for Friday’s skate races. However, I’m hoping to find a little time to
get to a laundry. I’ve run out of a few critical garments, and the smell
of my own â€œoverusedâ€ synthetic clothing is really grim. I don’t care how
late I stay up on Thursday — it’s just got to be done or I’ll die.
But I won’t be doing laundry tonight. Tonight I’ll be going to the
awards ceremony, then to dinner in Canmore with the rest of the Slovenian
team to celebrate the big win.