5:00 p.m. EDT, July 3, 2010 (Day 0)
Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA
Finally get to Hall B5, walking from the hotel. Strips are mostly set up already, which is good–that means there are plenty of armorers available to handle the long line of fencers waiting to have their gear checked.
At the bout committee stage there are stacks of the strip map sitting on the tables, so I grab a copy to see what we’ll have to work with. Looks like nine pods of four strips–oops, no, the one in the corner is really only two strips plus the wheelchair frames. The other half of the hall is an assortment of twos and threes, but I can’t see what the pattern is–2, 3, 2, 2, then the BC stage and the trainers, then 2, 3. The next section is 3, 2, 2, 2, the Finals area, and another 3. Sixty strips total, plus the Finals strip. But two of the three-pods each have one of the “banana” strips, the congenitally curved strips that tend to come apart when people fence on them, and four other strips are roll-out cloth strips that we shouldn’t put épée or large people on.
Tanya tells me there are more strips coming, enough to replace the bananas and one of the roll-outs, but they won’t be here until Tuesday.
“What about the Finals strip?” I ask. “I thought that was supposed to be a raised strip.”
“It was,” she says. “But it had less than six feet of run-off and no ramps, so Sharon [Everson, head referee for SN] and I had them take it out.”
This layout will be more difficult to work with than usual, because of the seemingly random placement of the two-pods and three-pods. If the four three-pods were placed together, they would be perfect for when we need four groups of three strips when DEs are on 12, but these are at opposite ends of the hall, more inconvenient for both referees and coaches. I wish, too, that Wheelchair had been given their own section–perhaps back behind the BC stage–that way the first pod by the entry could have given us another four-pod, which we don’t have enough of.
In previous years, I’ve been sent copies of the tentative layout (along with the names of the head referees, the head armorer, the trainers, and the officials’ arrival and departure list) ahead of time, but that didn’t happen this year for some reason.
I sit down to look at the schedule for tomorrow, the first day of competition. Not too bad a day to start off with: 21 pools of Under-16 Men’s Foil, 18 pools of Youth-14 Women’s Epee, and 12 pools of Under 16 Women’s Saber. But the 725 individuals and 15 teams expected are pretty big numbers for the first day of a tournament, and if the big epee and foil events are slow to finish their DEs, it’ll delay the starts of the afternoon events and push our end time even later than the projected 9:15 pm.
I plan the strip allocation for the first couple of rounds for tomorrow, but stop at the point where the rest of the day depends on how quickly the morning events finish and free up strips. We’ll see how it goes.
Exciting development, though: Joe’s written the code and spec’ed the equipment, so at Registration they’ll be able to scan fencers’ membership cards at check-in instead of the traditional pencil check-off that’s so prone to error.
Joe and Marc and Tanya need to stay until the master computer finishes reloading everything after its hard drive was replaced, but the rest of us head out for some dinner around 8:00.
[Update on stats: I’m changing the length of days to reflect my own hours during the tournament instead of a mythical individual who worked all days. But it should be noted that several armorers and lead computer people spent up to 10 hours at the venue preparing for the next day’s start of the tournament.]
Number of individual competitors: 0
Number of teams: 0
Length of my BC day: about 3 hours
Cumulative working hours onsite: 3 hours
Alarm’s set for 5:30 am.