Foto: Karoline Dalen

The diary of one volunteer Or inside the Tromsø Student Games

The Student games are one of the biggest sport events for students in Norway. First held in Trondheim, it achieves great success and since 2010 the student games has been arranged yearly. This year is going to be special: for the first time such an event take place north of the polar circle – in Tromsø. Competitions in 11 different sports were held from 24th-28th of February.

Text: Elizaveta Lamova

I cannot say I fond of skiing, but I have rented skies soon when I arrived here. After two weeks of my training, I founded ski stadium in Tromsø. I did not know then, this “knowledge” would be useful. I signed up for volunteering of Tromsø Student games, received an email and looked at the map attached. Ok, they need me as a volunteer at point 3 – ski stadium! At least I will not be lost in my first day. Surprising, how quick organizations of the Studenlekene answered to me; at the same day, I got my accreditation (where “track guard” stated) and was well equipped for volunteering. There were large number of positions you could choose: transportation coordinator, store manager, first aid official, timekeeping and so on. Some volunteer work required special skills and education.

Day 1
Nice sunny weather. To my mind, perfect for skiing. I went to the stadium and found a track made for future competitions. Actually, during three days I was volunteering, I had never seen people preparing stadium. However, it was always ready. Inspiring work. Since there were nobody outside, except some skiers, I decided to enter the building nearby stadium. “Hey, my name is Karoline” – the girl sitting next to the door smiled to me kindly. “Are you going to volunteer? Great! I will tell you what to do”. She, as I had found out later, was from Race Committee Cross Country. Her friendly glance and smile made me feel comfortable and enthusiastic – I was a bit worried about the absence of my Norwegian language. “That’s not a problem!” – She convinced me and entered the kitchen. It was a quite large room; windows were facing the stadium, so I could see what was going on there. My task was to prepare drinks for skiers. I would be a person after the finish line, who handle out juice. “See the table over there? – Karoline pointed at it thought the window. The table’s location was just after the finish line of the track. – “Drinks should be there in one hour. Will you manage? Call me, if you need help”. All you have to do here is to boil enough water before mixing it with the concentrate juice. There is only one difficulty: temperature. Drinks should not be too cold or too hot, it must be around 30-40 degrees.

Photo: Elizaveta Lamova
Photo: Karoline Dalen

Almost ready. While two kettles were trying to boil water as quick as possible, I was observing the competition start. Some volunteers I could see were in charge of skier start at the right time, some were standing around the track to prevent someone ski there by a mistake. Someone entered the kitchen and asked for a cup of coffee.
By the time skiers were expected to finish, I was ready. We transported drinks to the finish line (the tank with drinks was heavy – it contains 18 liters!) and started to wait for winner. “I should not forget about taking the numbers back” – reminded I to myself. I had never thought before about the people who organize sport events. We are get used to pay all the attention to the struggle of competitors. So did I. However, there you had to worry that everything was going fine, no matter who would win. I collected all the numbers skiers were wearing and brought them inside to dry. Three hours were like a one minute.

Day 2
I stood at the finish line. Everything was ready. Compering to yesterday that was much easier: there were some drinks left from the first day of competition. It was windy, but sunny. Music played loudly, we still had plenty of time before sportsmen would finish. The best thing about volunteering, to my mind, is that you meet different people. It is a great fun. I did not even manage to remember the names after the certain period. Trying not to get cold, we were dancing and jumping together at the finish line. The thing here is that you have to wait for a long time, always be at your position. Semi-final was held, skiers ran a short distance, but several times. I had to be attentive and notice who had finished last to take back the number. During the break, I went to canteen. All volunteers received coupons, which allows them to get a drink and a snack. The day as quick as previous one. But I was happy to watch how the sportsmen finish and their final struggle for the first place. Moreover, I spend in average one hour inside, preparing drinks (juice and coffee). Some volunteers had to spend all the time outside.

Photo: Elizaveta Lamova
 Photo: Karoline Dalen

Day 3
I woke up at Saturday and looked at the window. It was snowing outside. Poor skiers, today would be the hardest day of the competition (men’s distance – 50 km, women’s – 30 km) and it would be even more tough because of weather. This day was going to differ from previous ones: since the distance was huge, we should organize a table with drinks at food in the middle of the distance. That day I was volunteering with two more people. We started to slice bananas and prepare drinks. Took all these with us and moved to the track. Ok, we one of as should gave a drink, another – a piece of banana, third – a cookie. The wind was horribly blowing. The jug of water and bananas became frozen after half of an hour. The first skier appeared. Everybody started to hustle. Girls who were responsible for writing down the time took their sheets of paper, I was reaching bananas, the boy nearby (I am so bad in remembering names!) poured juice into a glass. He looked like professional skier, was well prepared for the cold and exactly knew what amount of liquid should be at the glass. He started run with a glass to give it to the skier passing thought and managed to do that quickly. After he did three times, I understood why nobody had taken bananas from my plate: sportsmen just did not want to slow down.

Moreover, it was hard for them to take it in gloves. Eureka! Thanks’ to experienced volunteer nearby. As we were three (two girls and one boy) we could make a shifts in order not to turn into ice. A one thing I realized there – dancing is the best way for keeping warmth! Two hours passed, it was time for preparing the same for the finish line. My volunteer work returned to a “usual way”. I still wondering how people can manage to deal with such distances and to look happy after 10 minutes! I admire you. Actually, what all sportsmen did during the Student Games was a great job. In addition, I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of something cool happening. To be there and to watch it from a distance – big difference.