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Brandon's Olympic Journal From The 2018 Games

By Brandon Klement, 03/21/18, 6:00AM CDT

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Day 71, The Final Post

One week has past since USA and Canada punched their ticket to the Paralympics Gold Medal Game for the 2018 Paralympic Games. A game that with just over one minute left saw Team Canada ring the puck off of an empty net, only to have Team USA score with 37 seconds left in the game.

After a 15:00 minute intermission I was lucky enough to be on the right end of the rink to see USA score quickly in the first five minutes of the first overtime. Three Paralympic Gold Medals, what an historical event to see!

And, what a historical event to be involved with! The 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Sitting on the first flight of a 30 plus hour journey home, I definitely have time to think and reflect on what took place over the past 71 days.

A lot took place over 71 days. Four sheets of Olympic Ice Hockey FoP’s were installed. Japan, North American, and Korean resurfacer drivers came together to provide a quality Olympic skating surface.

North Korea and South Korea Women’s Hockey teams were combined to form Team Korea. USA Women’s Team won Olympic Gold. Germany won its first silver Olympic medal. Russian Athletes did not compete under the Russian flag and won a gold medal. Team Korea won its first medal in Paralympic Sled Hockey by defeating Italy in the bronze medal game. USA Men won their third Paralympic Gold Medal over Canada.

The list is endless of what took place since my departure January 9th, 2018, but the thought that keeps occurring time and time again is that I had the opportunity to be involved with a Winter Olympics in a capacity that very few every get.

It was an event that gave me the opportunity to work for, with, and beside some great people to both learn and share ideas.

In closing...Thank you. Thank you to everyone (peers, customers, friends, family) who made the Olympic experience possible because it has been one amazing ride, with no regrets!

 

3-14-18 - Paralympic Games

It has been and exciting week and a half. We have watched some exciting hockey ending with various shoot outs deciding who gets the win.

Our very own USA Men’s sled hockey team is 3-0, with Canada mirroring their record. Tomorrow night USA and Canada will play separately in the semi-final game to punch their ticket to the gold medal game.

We have been busy with three games per day. The days start with the ice crew edging, hand scraping the players benches and penalty boxes (they are ice now), sweeping the players benches and penalty boxes, using water cans to “flood” the benches and penalty boxes and then some ice maintenance with the ice resurfacers to get the FoP in shape for the day to come. This process is then repeated after each game to prepare for the next.

We have been using an odd procedure after each game to prepare the FoP for the next game because we only have 45 minutes between each game. For those of you that are not familiar with the game, the players have pics on the butt end of their sticks and use these to move around the FoP. These pics make 1,000 divots in the ice and would take forever and a day to patch with slush. So we first towel flood the FoP to fill the pic marks, and yes, the ice sheet is rough because of the snow left on the ice but once it freezes we then go out and complete a regular resurface creating the desired product of an Olympic athlete

Well, Czechoslovakia just beat Sweden in a shoot out so time to prep the ice for Japan vs Norway and if you are wondering, yes, this has been the opportunity of a lifetime, but I am also very excited to get home and get back to attending to our very patient customers.

Have a fantastic day!

 

Day 19, 20, and 21

The past two days have been very typical of daily rink operations that we are all familiar with:

- building ice with the spray boom

- Towel floods with the ice resurfacer

- Ice depths

- Washing and waxing the ice resurfacer

- Blade changes

The one task that was out of the ordinary was making ice in the players benches and penalty boxes for the Paralympics. We are limited on time with the dasher board conversion wrapping up yesterday and practices starting today, so we use an ancient ice makers secret! Not really.

Some of you have made a rink in your back yard during the winter, and what did you do if you had snow already? You pack it down, water it, let it freeze, add more water, let it freeze and continue repeating again and again. Then you skate! So we did exactly that to get the benches up to the height of the ice. We shaved snow from the rink, shoveled it in the players benches and penalty boxes....packed it down...added water and boom! We have ice the same thickness as the ice sheet, and its white!

It’s Magic! Not really, but it is a quick and dirty way to get a lot of ice in a short amount of time. I would not recommend using this method for ice that will be played on, but for ice that will be used for transitioning players it will be perfect.

So today we are using the edger in the players benches and penalty boxes to smooth out the rough spots, and then we use watering cans to apply water to them so we don’t have to keep dragging out the hose and then putting it back on the hose reel every day.

Other tasks on the list today will be edging both rinks and completing some ice maintenance to get them ready for practices tonight, as the teams move into their locker rooms today.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Day 17 and 18

After a day off and some relaxation it was back to Gangnueng Hockey Center (GHC) or better known as hockey one.

When we left hockey one after the gold medal game we raised the set points to -3C to have the floor at a warmer temperature for today to not waist time waiting for the floor to warm up before cutting the ice down to change the Olympic logos to the Paralympic Logos.

Day 17 was was spent cutting the ice down on both the competition rink and the practice rink over the Olympic logos that were being changed. The edger was used to create troughs for the conditioner runners to travel in to get the ice lower in specific spots so we did not have to shave the entire sheet down creating more work than what we have time for.

Today we spent the morning whiting out logos on the practice rink, sealing in the white paint and then installing the Paralympic Rings and center ice logo. The same was repeated on the competition rink while the day was capped off with several wand floods on the practice rink to build ice.

This task was able to be completed in only two days due to the fact that all of the logos are in-lay logos. If the logos were to be painted we would be putting in some very long hours to get the ice to a skiable depth by Saturday’s Korean Para Practice.

We will welcome the next two days as they will be very simple as we use the spray wand and the ice resurfacers to build ice back to a skating depth suitable for the Paralympics.

Day Sixteen 

By now you have seen the replay of the Men’s Gold Medal Game and what a finish it was. 4-3 win in overtime! Another exciting Olympic Hockey Game.  

There is not much to report from the pregame duties. It was the same drill; however, the post game duties were interesting. We quickly removed the goal nets during the celebration to cut the nets and skirts off from the frame so they could be preserved into the Olympic Hall of Fame along with the Gold Medal pucks from all seven goals.  

 After the medal presentations the resurfacer driver crew left to pack for their flight tomorrow, and then we headed to dinner to celebrate a job well done at a one of the best Korean BBQ places yet! 

Today was a day off for me, Don and Mike Diersen who is staying with us throughout the Paralympics, so I took the opportunity to catch up on my CIAS duties.  

The coming week is a break in between the Olympics and Paralympics to allow the dasher board company to convert the dashers to accommodate the sleds.  Our team will switch out all of the Olympic ice logos to Paralympic ice logos, so stay tuned in for some great pictures!

Day Fourteen and Fifteen 

I made my way back to Hockey Two yesterday to clean the ice up for a group from Coca-Cola who are touring the rink to see the "ins and outs" of what goes in to the back of the house operations for the Olympics. I was actually quite taken back as I walked through the building.  

Everything, I mean everything! was gone except the ice, dasher boards and some trash left in piles waiting to be removed from the building. Not even 48 hours have passed and the building was empty. It was amazing and heartbreaking at the same time. An event of this magnitude that you have been working on for two years; gone in a matter of hours!  

At the same time however, it was peaceful to resurface the ice alone with no one in the building and think about what took place over the last two months.  

 After the tour I made my way back to Hockey One to catch the second semifinal game between Canada and Russia, and WOW!  am glad I did not miss that historical German win over Canada. What a game it was with Canada fighting back to a 4-3 score and Germany holding out for the win. A Germany vs. Russia Gold Medal Game was never even a thought, but yet, here we are! 

Today started slow with nothing much happening during the day, so we shaved down the practice rink at Hockey One to get it prepared to change the logos out on Monday for the upcoming Paralympics. Then we switched gears and prepped the competition rink after the last practice for the Bronze Medal Game that starts in just under one hour.  

Got to go, chat with everyone tomorrow after I visit Hockey Two for one last time to prep it for Visa, and before the Gold Medal Game.   

2-22-18 (Day Twelve and Thirteen)

Wow!!! Just Wow!!! The last two days have been some exciting hockey. Finland women won the bronze over Russia, Germany men downed Sweden in a 3-2 upset overtime and today USA Women took the gold!

The rinks operations are on cruise control but the past two days have been spent completing edging, ice maintenance, shielding cleaning and ice depths during the mornings to get the FoP’s in tip top condition for the medal games.

Some may have noticed that the lines and logos were not as bright a day or two ago; however, today during the Women’s Gold Medal Game they shined bright! We have weathered the storm of three games a day, and now we can get the ice to 2-2.5 cm with just the two men’s semi-final games, men’s bronze medal game, and the men’s gold medal game remaining.

Feather edging, zone figure eights, and long figure eights, have been used the last two days to get the skating surface flat to create some of the best Olympic ice and is the secret to our success.

Well, got to go and close the rink up for the night. Thanks for reading!

Day Eight thru Eleven (2-20-18) 

It is hard to believe that six weeks have come and gone! We have been going strong with three games a day for the last several days so it was nice to have only one game yesterday. The days are pretty much routine now that we have a feel for temperature settings by time of day and also what game to be at.  

It makes for a fun day (not that it wasn’t fun before), but everyone now knows the drill and is more relaxed, creating a great atmosphere that consists of ice resurfacer drivers from Japan, Korea and North America.  

It is also fun to see people from the USA come down by the resurfacing gates to say hi and chat about our adventures here in South Korea.  

Day eight and nine contained the same daily routine as mentioned in the previous journal entry, but both days ended with two action-packed men's games. Slovania vs. Slovakia ended in a shoot out, which was preceeded by the Minnesota Wild’s own Dave Hanson and Japan’s Nori cutting a perfect 90 second flat shoot out pattern to allow Slovania to win the shoot out.  

Day nine ended in what could be a potential medal game with Finland facing Sweden. Finland’s 6’7” goalie fought hard, however, Sweden ended up on top 2-1.  

Day ten was slow at Hockey Two with practices taking place, so I went to assist Don over at Hockey One for two great women’s games. USA topped Finland and Canada beat Russia to put USA and Canada up for a rematch from several days ago, but with the gold medal on the line this time! 

The ice is holding up well with only two towel floods at the end of the night. We started the tournament at 3.5 cm of ice and we are losing slowly, and are currently at 3.0 cm of ice on our way to the target of 2.5 cm for the bronze medal game tomorrow between Finland and Russia.   

Everyone have a great Tuesday and be sure to stay up late or get up early (2:00 A.M. EST) to watch the bronze medal game with Finland vs. Russia.

2-16-18 (Day Six and Seven):

Speechless…what a day for hockey yesterday…Canada and the USA Women faced off at 4:30 with Canada edging USA. The game was physical and included penalty shots and a last minute ring off the post by the US Women; however, Team Canada came out on top. What an opportunity this was to watch rink side and to be able to possibly watch two gold medal games in one Olympics.

Then the day wrapped up with the OAR Women’s team loosing to Finland and then the Canadian Men’s team took it to Switzerland 5-1.

Three games all under one roof, back to back to back in one day, but the ice held strong. Below is the secret to Hockey Two’s three games a day ice recipe to keep the ice a consistent -6C and the players on top of the ice. We have found is that the FoP responds well to a consistent resurfacing to keep the refrigeration operating, which allows it to react when needed and keep it in good condition from period to period and game to game.

Heavy resurface two hours prior to game

Ice depths and edging while ice temps recover

Final pre-game resurface 30 minutes before warm up

Heavy resurface after warm up

Resurface after 1st and 2nd adjusting water and cut depth to ice conditions

Heavy resurface after game

Decrease set point to accommodate second two games

Repeat process

Build ice at end of the night if needed to return to ice depths at days start

Today is a vacation day (not really). Pactices all day with Germany facing Sweden at 21:00 so we are taking this opportunity to build ice. We set the refrigeration a tad lower than normal to be able to lay full water and shave very little between practices to build ice and keep the staff from staying late and build ice after the game tonight.

Well, it is getting close to pregame duties so time to get at it. Everyone have a fantastic Friday and enjoy the games!

2/14/18

Well…not quite the outcome that I was expecting after preparing the FoP for the first men's game, but it was still a fantastic game and night for hockey. Game one between Switzerland and Sweden ended with Switzerland edging Sweden 3-1 and Korea scored its first goal of the tournament in front of a sold out crowd, but ended up with a 5-0 loss to Japan. 

Then the grand finale was all set to go after working the ice all day to get a perfect -6C surface temperature; however, the USA Olympic team took a 3-2 loss in overtime to Slovenia. 

On the plus side, the FoP withstood the three games and is ready for tomorrow with some ice maintenance completed into the early hours of Thursday. Tomorrow "hockey two" plays host to Canada vs. USA women, and then the Canadian men for the 9:00 P.M. night cap. Good night from South Korea!

 

2/13/18

What a day of hockey! The Canadian Women won 4-1 over Finland and our talented US Women’s team downed OAR 5-0 with an astounding 50 shots on goal. The ice was perfect, but only from the hard work of the crew at hockey two who spins into action before each game to check ice depths, clean acrylic, edge, cut, shine the resurfacers and stand rink side to attend to any last minute needs.  

The ice is at a solid 1.25 inches above the logos and holding a consistent -6C surface temp as we constantly work it before the games shaving and adding water to keep the refrigeration system where we want it to react when we need it but keep the skating surface where the players want it.  

The beating of three games per day for the next five days that starts tomorrow with the USA men capping the night off as they play Slovakia and we are excited and both confident that the following days will be filled with action packed hockey on a fantastic skating surface. 

Thanks for reading, another update tomorrow!

2/12/18

The Opening Ceremonies for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games have came and gone, and now the events are in full swing! 

We have been here since January 9th prepping and installing the field of play for the two competition and practice rinks for ice hockey.   

It has been a whirlwind of a month. The first three weeks were spent installing both Gangnueng Ice Hockey Center and Kwangdong Hockey Center Competition skating surfaces along with their practice facilities. All four venues were painted and built with a spray wand to ensure that the athletes will experience some of the best ice ever at these Olympics.  

The women kicked off ice hockey with practices that started the first of February. Sweden and Japan played the first ice hockey game at Kwandong Hockey Center (hockey 2) on Saturday, February 10th, with Sweden winning 3-1.  

Since the kick off, Switzerland defeated Korea 8-0, USA defeated Finland 3-1, Canada downed OAR 5-0 and tonight Switzerland won over Japan, and Korea lost to Sweden in front of a capacity crowd. 

We have been getting many comments via social media and personal texts about how wonderful everything looks as everyone watches the late game early in the morning. The encouragement is greatly appreciated as we are about to put our ice making abilities to the test with three games a day on the same skating surface!  

In just one day (two for everyone in the U.S.) the men’s ice hockey kicks off with the USA men playing the late game at Kwangdong Hockey Center, and the test game is initiated at Gangnueng Hockey Center before the men get into full swing at Hockey One.  

Thanks for all of the compliments and well wishes. Be sure to continue to follow along to get a first-hand look at the method behind the madness (hint: we are a day ahead) and the preparations of an ice maker for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games!