BC Diary: NAC A, Day 0

My flights into Cincinnati were completely uneventful and the scheduled shuttle (provided for officials by the local sports commission) was there to pick me up, so I checked in and dropped off my bag at the hotel and got over to the venue by 4:30 or so.

Why e-readers are good to have in armory lines. (Photo - Delia Turner)

The hotel is connected to the venue by a skybridge, so getting there in the morning will be easy—no need to worry about shuttles or light rail.

The hall is long and narrow, so we just have one straight run of 4-pods this time, with the BC stage and the trainers roughly in the middle of the room. The armory is behind the BC stage, and there’s a long line, nearly to the end wall, of fencers waiting to have their gear checked.

Unusually, all the strips are laid, but there are no scoring tables, so no towers or boxes or reels or cables set up yet. That means there’s not much for the armorers to do until the tables are here, so most of them are working gear check for now.

Tanya is already here, of course (she came in yesterday), as are Joe and Marc, two-thirds of our three-person computer staff, and Carla, as ever, is working on the seeding for this weekend’s events.

The layout, for once, is unchanged from the map I’d already been sent. For this tournament I’m going to try numbering the strips alphanumerically—each pod will be labeled with a letter and the strips within each pod will be labeled 1 through 4. I think this will be easier for me to work with for strip assignments, and both the armorers and the trainers seem to like the idea, too—they expect it will make it quicker for them to head in the right direction on strip calls.. I don’t think it will confuse the fencers too much, so we’ll see how it works. (A couple of people express some skepticism about using an idea I got from fencing.net, but it’s not the first useful idea I’ve picked up there.)

While I’m labeling my venue map and making copies, the scoring tables finally start showing up.They’re still not covered and skirted, though, so the armorers are still waiting to be able to set up the scoring machines, though they’re distributing reels and cords and towers around the room.

At 6:00 pm, the entry doors are shut—the armorers will finish checking gear for those who are already in line, but that’ll be it for tonight, aside from the people who sneak in while others are leaving. At 7:oo pm, we shut the entry doors again. Since we can’t put up the strip numbers until the scoring machines are set up, I turn on my computer and work on the strip assignments for tomorrow morning. That doesn’t take long—with just two events, Div I Men’s Foil and Div II Women’s Epee, first thing in the morning, everything else will depend on when they finish their pools, so I’ll wait to do the later events until tomorrow.

On what will be my F pod, the first of four video replay systems is being set up. Nobody’s quite sure how this will work: the idea is to use replay from the round of 8 for at least the Div I events, but there are only four sets. If we put one on the finals strip, that leaves only three for the F pod. But we’re not even sure yet whether there will be anyone to run the replay systems—the FOC was not informed of them in time to hire the extra bodies needed to use them, and nobody’s been trained on this equipment. Makes my little strip numbering experiment look pretty trivial.

Kathy Brown, the head armorer, decides that they can’t wait for the table covers any longer but will go ahead and start setting up the machines. As it turns out, just as the armorers start, the venue crew appears with their supply of table cloths, so only one scoring table ends up without a cover. We ask them to leave the BC tables without covers, too—these tables have reasonably good plastic surfaces instead of the chipped and splintered wooden surfaces often found in convention centers, so we won’t have to deal with wrinkles and any spills will be easier to clean up.

Oops, there’s one table with a curvature twice that allowed in sabres. Turns out it’s cracked, so we call for a replacement.

Tanya and I ask Kathy if there’s anything we can do to help, since there’s not much we can do until the machines are set up, and she gives us a lesson in machine setup: unpacking the scoring boxes and power supplies and cords, attaching the boxes to the towers with cable ties, trimming the tie ends, attaching the floor cords to the boxes, stashing the machine boxes under the tables, etc.

Tanya gets called away to handle something or other, so Gerrie Baumgart and I end up hanging a couple of pods’ worth of scoring machines on their towers. By then I’m out of cable ties (and I trust the armorers more to do things right, anyway), so I turn in my snips and return to more familiar chores. I leave copies of the map for the head referees,  drop off copies for the armorers and the trainers, and start putting up strip numbers on the half of the room that now has finished towers. But before I finish, the rest of the gang announces they’re heading out for dinner, so I grab my computer and join them. We’ll come over early tomorrow and finish up.

Since it’s after 9:00 pm, we go directly to the restaurant (a Rock Bottom Brewery, home to much BC comfort food—and drink). My immediate—and not unreasonable—goal for this tournament is to finish early enough to eat at least one more evening meal in a place where we get to sit and have food brought to us at our table.

As we walk back to the hotel, we notice that The Colbert Report is on the downtown Jumbotron. Pretty cool, Cincinnati.

To bed by 12:30, after ironing clothes for tomorrow, but I’m still awake when my roommate, whose flight was delayed, shows up at 2:00 am. Oh, well, that’s still only midnight my time, and I dozed a lot on the planes coming in.

Alarm’s set for 5:30 am.

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