Volunteering on race day is essential as a parent of a racer. Your club will expect you to help when your club hosts a NJRS race. Your help is critical to the success of the event in many ways that help make the event fun as well as safe for your racer. Volunteering on race day can seem very intimidating for parents especially the first time. This page is intended to help demystify some aspects of what to do on race day if you are helping with the race. First thing to know is that there are many jobs that need to be done and usually if you help with just one it won't take much time and you'll get to see your racer ski too! Many of the parents have helped run races in the past and will be able to explain or help you learn what happens on race day. Below you'll find a short and NOT complete list of jobs but a list nonetheless of some of the jobs on race day.
1. Gate Judge. Usually at most races we NEVER have enough gate judges, it's an easy job as long as you know what needs to be done. Unfortunately, after you reluctantly agree or run the other way when you hear they need gate judges you may be wondering what to do even after someone give you an explanation that usually is not real thorough because they are in a hurry to do something else. Below is an old video that is about 15 minutes long that USSA produced in 2003 (we think), but will give you all the things you need to know to be a gate judge. It would be great if we got plenty of well informed gate judges at each race, well we can have hope can't we? Just remember to do two things after you know how the gate judging works and you volunteer. One, you'll need to be on the hill so it helps to have skis, but is not necessary, you can wear your warm boots. Two, dress warm because you'll be standing outside at the mercy of the weather, we know this seems obvious, we're just sayin' ya know? Just think how cold your racer can get in their speed suit, you can bundle up. Lastly, (yeah we know we said two things..) a pencil is great to write with, bring two in case one breaks. Remember pens and sharpies can freeze.
Check the video out even if you have no intention of helping, watch the video so you have an idea of what is going on in case your racer gets DQed by a gate judge.
2. Announcer. You would make announcements like GET ON THE HILL THE RACE IS STARTING!!! Best thing is that you really don't need to know much about ski racing to announce things, you just need to know the schedule for the day. Things you might need to say are trainer course open, course inspection open, course inspection closed, racers age XX report to the top of the hill, etc. Got it?
3. Course slippers. You need your skis and a lift ticket for this very important job. You also need to know how to slip the race course, the club hosting the race will explain what to do, basically if you know how to play follow the leader you'll catch on. One thing you should know is slipping the course is ESSENTIAL for maintaing a safe race course and requires that you are an advanced skier and that you can slip the hill and look behind you to make sure you are not in a racer's way on the course.
4. Morning training course setters, usually one of the coaches from one of the teams will take care of this. If you're club is hosting the race it is expected that your club sets the training course.
5. Race photographer. This year we'll need help here as last year's photographer will not be at every race. You'll need your own camera for this job. If you are the photographer you absolutely must not be positioned on the course in an unsafe area, meaning if a racer falls at speed they could slide into you and cause an injury to the racer, or cause additional injury to the racer. This means if you are the photographer and are in an unsafe area you may be asked to move, if you're asked to move, please do it immediately even if your own racer is the one coming at you on the course. Safety first. This job is appreciated by all, it is fun for the racers and parents to get a different perspective on the race and an up-close look at the action!
6. Hospitality. Marshmallow roast. You could manage a small fire and items needed for a marshmallow roast. Make sure it is okay with the hill and is done in an acceptable spot. If you want to do this job it would be great if you bring some marshmallows and roasting sticks! The kids will LOVE YOU!
7. Race Registration. Help with race registration in the morning. This includes answering questions and writing the names of the racers on the Time Sheets used on the hill. It is helpful if you can write neatly, even when people are telling you to hurry up, WE'RE LATE!!!
8. Shuttle person. You carry coats and pants from the start down to the finish. You need to be able to ski while carrying what usually is many coats at one time.
9. Most of the other jobs on race day are taken care of by the hosting club, helping at a race is fun and a great way to meet other people, heck you might even like some of these people.
Like most other organizations, a few people seem to do the bulk of the work, so please help make the race a success by volunteering.
For more information you can contact this year's NJRS coordinators, Amy Carlson and Kris Henry at NorthlandJuniorRaceSeries@gmail.com
NJRS and Northland Junior Race Series are registered trademarks of Team Duluth 2014.