Handbook for Hosting a Speedskating Competition
The following is a blueprint for hosting a speedskating competition. It is not the know-all and end-all on how to run a meet. Many things will come up that are not covered in this guide and you have to be aware of “Murphy’s Law” as things will pop up out of nowhere and at the worst time. You have to be able to deal with those issues on the fly. Anticipate that things will go wrong. Plan as best you can for worst case scenarios such as workers not showing up or equipment not functioning. Still, this is at least a guide to get you started. Included is a list of jobs and how many workers are needed for those positions. Also included is a tutorial for those workers that never helped out before to make it less stressful for them.
Pretty frustrating and stressful job that runs weeks before the event and a couple days after the event is over. You must have a good temperament, be un-flustered when things go wrong, tolerant of others making errors and always have on a happy face to keep the skaters and workers in a fun mode. This meet has to be fun for everyone in order for it to be successful.
Duties of meet director:
- Secure your ice time and be clear to the arena what your needs are and what the arena needs to do prior to the event. That means book your time slot. Find out what facilities you can use (locker rooms, exercise bikes, hospitality room and if you can bring in food), public address system, first aid supplies and location, specific panels of glass removed, marking of the tracks and alternate start lines, lighting for the event (regular lights or game day lights as there is a huge difference and cost), times for when the ice is to be resurfaced. Make sure you have enough protective pads and workers to get them on and off the ice on time.
- Come up with a complete list of volunteers needed and specific jobs to be performed along with a tutorial on each job. Have specific times listed so they know when and where you need them and for how long.
- Create registration form and distribute to all the clubs with clear information about registration deadlines, skater requirements, fees, directions to the arena, contact numbers.
- Day of race have registration tables set up with pencils, printed copies of schedule and skaters in each division along with their helmet numbers. Have locker room assignments posted. Have heat box benches set up. Have designated place for computer programmer to plug in equipment and a runner assigned to get information back and forth from the judges tables to computer and posted somewhere for all to see. Check to see if the public address system is running. Have warm up music at announcer’s table with national anthems or a live singer nearby. Prior planning with your hospitality person needs to be done to insure there is a room for hot coffee, cocoa and food for the officials with specific time for lunch break.
All the main officials (lap counter, chief ref, starter, chief timer, chief judge, heat box person and computer person) pretty much know their own job and you don’t need to bother them. You should be on cruse control once they all show up.
JOBS NEEDED TO BE FILLED
- Announcer: Show them where to announce, how equipment works, where warm up music is and provide a list of events and skaters.
- Heat Box: Two person job–Have a bunch of benches for the skaters divided by groups (pony boys, pony girls on deck and third group of juvenile boys). Good to have a bull horn to call kids in the tunnel and locker rooms.
- Referee: Can do with one but really need 2 to alternate after about an hour on the ice. Ideally, you could use a third ref because there are times when you really need two refs on the ice at the same time when the very fast skaters are on the track.
- Lap Counter: Need two people. (The following is a tutorial on lap counting for on-the-job training new lap counters)–A) The most important thing is to keep your eyes on the lead skaters and not the skaters in the rear. Count down their laps and don’t worry about the slower skaters so much. If the slower skater gets lapped try to remember how many times they are lapped. That is why a second lap counter is needed on long distance events. B) It is very helpful if you verbally yell out the number of laps left. You can easily get distracted with a crashed skater or someone asking you questions, or just through boredom of clicking off lap after lap on the sign board. If you said the number out loud, your mind picks up that cue much easier if you suddenly get confused on how many laps are to go. You can sometimes look at the lap board and think to yourself; “Did I change it to 5 to go when they went by?” If you yelled out the words; “Five to go!” on the previous lap, when they come around again your mind tends to remember it better that you just said; “Five to go and you will then correctly yell out four to go.” That is just an old trick I came up with to help myself count laps.
- Judges: 5 needed–Provide each with a clip board to write down who came in first or second or third. Designate one person to be chief judge to settle disputes.
- Timers: 5 needed–Same as above.
- Scribe: One person to transfer information on paper from the judges and timers and send to computer person.
- Runner: One or two youth workers to run the results of the races to the computer person and also to take the printed results from the computer person to an area and post them so the skaters can see their times and finish position.
- Water Buckets: One person to fill buckets of water. 1
- Ice Maintenance: Two people on skates with squeegees and a bucket of slush to fill major gouges.
- Block Chasers: Two people to move markers between races and replace kicked out markers during the race.
- Registration Table: Two people needed to check people in, give out helmet numbers, collect money from those that did not pay in advance, hand out race information sheets. As soon as warm ups begin, they are free to go. Suggest they take on responsibilities of helping set up hospitality room.
- Hospitality: Two people to set up coffee pot, crock pots, food line.
TOTAL WORKERS NEEDED IS 30. Other clubs will supply some helpers to judge and time. Some of our own skaters can do double duty. Bare minimum number of volunteers needed from our own club would be 15. Some could be kids.
Most important is that everyone just do their own job and figure things out themselves when minor things come up. Pulling the Meet Director away from overseeing operations because you can’t find scotch tape or the light switch or a cleaning rag to wipe up a coffee spill or if someone said they sent in their registration and they are not on our list are examples of things that actually happened to me in previous meets when we were in the middle of racing. By all means seek the meet director out for problems that are serious but not matters that take plain common sense.