Friday, November 8, 2013

Nagano 1998

With the Sochi Games coming up this winter, I recently dug out my slides from the Nagano Games and did some reminiscing.  The Salt Lake Olympic Committee (SLOC) sent me to Nagano to scope out weather observing and forecasting needs for the 2002 Olympics.  Being a pre-911 Olympics, I had credentials that provided unfettered access to the venues and a first-hand look at the events and weather needs for four jet-lagged days.  Most observation days involved a group visit and tour of a venue, watching an event, and then meeting with the venue meteorologist.  At a few venues, I met with former Olympians, coaches, or other support individuals to discuss the impacts of weather on the competitions.  Given the "boring" weather in place over Utah right now, I thought I'd share a few photos and perspectives.

Enjoying a sunny day with Wasatch touring legend Dave Hanscom at the Snow Harp cross country venue in the Hakuba Valley.  The Japanese Alps rise more than 2000 meters above the valley floor and receive abundant "lake-effect" snowfall from the Sea of Japan. 
Touring the ski jump facility during the Men's 120-m gold-medal competition.
Having a bird's-eye view of Kazuyoshi Funaki winning the gold in front of his home-country fans
is something I will never forget.   
29-time Olympic and World Championship medalist Bjorn Daehlie chasing an Italian-team skier during the third leg of the men's 4x10km relay.  After losing to the Italians in Lillehammer, Daehlie and the Norwegians claimed a 0.2 second victory in Nagano thanks to a sprint in the anchor leg by Thomas Alsgaard.  What a race!
Deep-powder skiing with a few security guards after cancellation of the Super-G.  The hill was largely mine and I enjoyed a few chin ticklers on the closed and deserted downhill course.  
Vending machines in Hakuba.  Surprisingly, we didn't see such hospitality during the Salt Lake Games.
The weather operations center in Nagano.  I had a translator work with me here, which was great, except for techy terms like parameterization, polarimetric, grid-spacing, etc.  
The venue forecaster at the Hakuba Ski Jumping Center.  This is one of the most challenging forecasting positions at the Winter Olympics because ski jumping is extremely sensitive to even small changes in wind speed and direction.  

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