Course Crew Tasks

Some of the tasks performed by our Course Crews are listed below. A number of these jobs are done by specialized crews, such as the Dye Crew,  the High Speed Slip Crew and the Equipment Runners.

Install Safety Nets – there are a variety of safety nets used to protect racers in an alpine ski race.  Large  ‘A’ Nets are installed by the Safety Crew,  experienced riggers who hang the nets from high cables.  These nets are anchored to the snow by other Course crews, using plywood disks called cookies.  The nets often require re-tensioning.

Course workers place ‘B’ Nets where particular hazards exist. These are short lengths of netting strung on plastic poles.  ‘B’ Nets may be 2 or 3 rows deep, depending on the hazard and racer speed.

Course workers place crowd control nets ('C' Nets) in selected areas well outside the course, to keep the public from wandering onto the course.  The Security Crew mans openings in the crowd control nets to control traffic through the openings.

Install Slip Skirt – course workers place close-mesh plastic netting along the bottom of each ‘A’ Net to prevent racers from getting caught in the open-weave ‘A’ Net.

Install Willy Bags – course workers inflate large air-filled bags and use these to cover obstructions such as water hydrants, TV camera towers and trees that may be particularly close to the course.

Moving Snow – if it snows on a prepared track, course workers remove the fresh snow by shovelling and by side-slipping or side-slipping on skis.  If there is not enough snow on portions of the track, course workers “farm” snow from neighbouring areas, moving it onto the track (not usually a problem in Whistler!).  Recovering from an overnight snowfall can be a major undertaking.  All the new snow has to be removed quickly, before it softens the hard track underneath.

Start Hut – course workers erect the start hut and install fencing to set up the start area. 

Finish Area – course workers erect and maintain special safety fencing to create a finish corral, or stopping area for racers after they cross the finish line.  These workers may also set up bleachers for spectators and generally help to build and maintain structures in the finish area.  These course workers need not be skiers. A number of the Finish Crew also run the Beer Tent, and some 'double' as drivers..

Running Equipment – course workers deliver nets, poles, shovels, rakes and other equipment to crews working on the course.  Runners need to be strong skiers. 

Course Setter Support – course workers carry poles and cloth panels for the course setter as he works his way down the track, setting gates.

Course maintenance – during races, course crew maintain the track by shovelling and raking ruts and by repairing nets that may be challenged by wayward racers.  Requires quick action and deft movement.

Apply Coloured Dye – the "Dye Crew" applies a ribbon of coloured dye along each side of the racecourse to guide racers  down the track.

High Speed Slip - during the race, the “Slip Crew” continues to side-slip the course to remove loose snow and to try to smooth out ruts. Slipping is done in sections and after every three or four racers.