Dancing on the razor's edge: A working day for Norwegian ski technicians

Their work is like dancing on a razor blade. The ski technicians of the Norwegian biathletes around their boss Tobias Fenre Dahle are decisive for the victory or defeat of the biathletes. Especially in the World Cup circus, everything is demanded of him and his team. Different competition venues, different courses and different snow conditions every week.

"What the boys achieve is worthy of all honor," says Sports Director Per-Arne Botnan. How difficult the job of a ski technician is showed right at the beginning of the 2021 / 2022 World Cup season in Östersund, Sweden. So it was that the Norwegians could not cope with the external conditions and the cold, lagged behind the competition in the first races and so it did not work out as desired.

The mirror-smooth track gave everyone a bit of a hard time. However, there were no reproaches to the technicians. For Tobias Fenre Dahle, snow has more than 100 different faces. Depending on temperature, age and degree of pollution, snow crystals change their properties, says the 35-year-old, who himself was a successful cross-country skier before working for six years as a service manager for a well-known ski company. He is now also contributing his experience to the Norwegian biathletes' service team for the sixth year. It is a team of eight colleagues for whom he is responsible for ensuring that everything runs properly so that the athletes have proper equipment under their feet.

"We analyze the snow, classify the snow grains and match the wax and grinds accordingly with the different surfaces. A big role is also played by the air temperature, which changes constantly and can thus have a strong effect on the snow surface. And that's exactly a challenge when you know the start is at noon, but you've already prepared and tested the skis at nine o'clock. You also have to have a certain instinct here, but you acquire that over the years. On the whole, we have always found a good balance and, of course, consult with our athletes beforehand. Our team looks after four groups of athletes and is responsible for their equipment," says Tobias Dahle. The chief technician himself is responsible for the skis of Erlend Bjoentegaard, Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, Sturla Holm Laegreid, Ida Lien and Ingrid Tandrevold.


„Zudem haben wir eine Kooperation mit dem Chinesischen Biathlon Verband und präparieren somit auch die Ski für das Team von Ole Einar Bjoerndalen.“ Fügt der Cheftechniker hinzu. In einem speziellen Wachstruck befinden sich bis zu 1000 Paar Ski davon werden pro Wettkampftag bis zu 250 Paar bearbeitet. “Das ist bei uns mittlerweile Routine.“ Meint Tobias.

The World Cup is not only a tireless and enormous challenge for the athletes, but also for the service team and the team behind the team. The crew is the last to leave the competition venue and the stadium because an enormous amount has to be transported. Then they already have to be back in the waxing booth the next day in the morning to test the skis for the athletes. "Our technicians really read a lot" emphasizes sports director Per-Arne Botnan "and the world federation, the IBU should take that into account in their scheduling." But all efforts are forgotten when there are successes to celebrate. And of these there were not few in the past, but many victories and medals at the Olympics, World Championships and the World Cups. This is then the merit of the daily hard work behind the scenes.

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