Donna Hateley and Theresa McKay will be so close to Olympic action that they will feel the spray of snow as athletes whiz down Cypress Mountain.
Among the Olympic volunteers from Central Alberta, Hateley is a member of the maintenance crew for the snowboarding halfpipe and McKay is a gate judge on the ski and snowboard hills.
Hateley, former chair of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, wanted to be assigned to freestyle ski competitions. Although she didn’t get her wish, she’ll still be on the same mountain.
“I wanted to be on Cypress Mountain so at least I could hear the cheers of the Canadians winning freestyle as events go on,” said Hateley, 60.
As a freestyle ski judge, Hateley usually doesn’t have much time to strap on her skis. But as an Olympic volunteer, she’ll ski to maintain the snow in the halfpipe, the concave ramp the snowboarders ride from side to side to send themselves airborne.
“You put your skis on and you slip down through the pipe and you push the snow out. There’s only a certain amount of snow that you can have in the pipes for it to be safe and for kids to do their tricks. It has to be fairly smooth.”
Hateley, managing director at Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, regrets not getting involved in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.
She wasn’t going to miss the chance again.
“I think it’s an incredible way to show support of athletes and what they do, what they’ve come through and what they have to go through to get to that point. They put a lot of work and energy and their life in it,” said Hateley, of Red Deer.
McKay is also volunteering to make up for missing out on the Calgary Olympics.
“It’s now or never. For the next Olympics in Canada, I know I will be too old, or maybe I won’t be around,” laughed McKay, 54, who lives near Markerville.
McKay, a software developer with Digital Technology International, is also a freestyle judge.
She will be keeping an eye on the gates, which are the flags that athletes manoeuvre around on the hill. She will working during ski cross, snowboard cross and snowboard parallel giant slalom.
In cross races, a pack of four athletes speed down rolling terrain to the finish line. In the slalom, two athletes race each other through a series of gates.
McKay will be buckled into her skis in the snow just off course.
“I don’t think I’ll have to ski on the actual course. I hope not. I’m not that good,” she joked.
McKay is the first to admit she’s not a daredevil athlete. Trying out the water ramp for skiers at Three Mile Bend a few years ago was more than enough excitement.
“My mistake was I told my kids. They said ‘Mom will never do that.’ Then I couldn’t back out.”