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September 24/10 10:22 am - Working the World Championships: An Intern's View


Posted by Editoress on 09/24/10
 

Sarah Moore joined Canadian Cyclist as an intern for our week-long coverage of the Mountain Bike World Championships at Mont Ste Anne, Quebec.  After a week of doing everything to babysitting the Canadian team tent while we did a team photo, to standing on the side of a hill calling in la-by-lap reports, to interviewing athletes, the final request that we made of Sarah was to provide an account in her own words of what it was like to be part of the CC crew for the Worlds.

Mont-Sainte-Anne World Championships. The Intern’s Perspective


Two of my teammates were invited to go to the World Championships with the Canadian national team so I [had] decided I would drive to Mont-Sainte-Anne on Friday morning, watch them in the U23 men’s race and then stay and watch the Elite races on Saturday. I’d watch two days of cross-country races and spend the night in a tent.

Then I saw that Canadian Cyclist was looking for an intern to bring to the World Championships at Mont-Sainte-Anne for the whole week. I began thinking about my application right away.

Ten days later, when I’d just about given up hope that I would be chosen, Rob Jones e-mailed me and asked me what day I would be able to get to Mont-Sainte-Anne. Let me check with work I said. But really? They had no say in whether I was going or not! This was the perfect opportunity for me, mountain bike racer and a journalism student, to see how my two passions coincided.

Driving to Mont-Sainte-Anne in my beat up blue Jetta with no air conditioning, I was dying of heat in the 35-degree weather and more than a little anxious. What if they make me sit in the media centre all day? What if I am perfectly awful at interviewing racers?

My worries all evaporated when I went to the media accreditation desk and got my media pass. My first media pass ever! And not just a flimsy piece of cardboard either. It had a barcode, my picture and Canadian Cyclist written on it. Then I proceeded to the media centre or “Le Centre des Congres” as it is usually known and met Tracy, the “Editoress” from the Canadian Cyclist website and Rob, “Editor”.

The press room was virtually empty on Tuesday except for the huge computer screens, multiple laptops and extra camera lenses and bodies that Canadian Cyclist had brought ..... Canadian Cyclist had the biggest group of journalists and photographers at the World Championships. A whopping five people.

Tuesday night we didn’t go to the opening ceremonies and had dinner in the condo instead. It ended up being one of two nights throughout the entire week that we were able to eat in the condo. Almost every night we had an event to go to.

Wednesday morning we woke up early to blistering heat and went out on the hill to watch the Cross-Country Relay. I stood at the top of the zig-zag “Marmotte” climb and radioed what was happening on the climb back to Tracy in the media centre. Did you wonder how she always knows what’s going on in the race so fast and is able to do live feed updates? It’s because Claire [Bonin] and I, and sometimes Rob, but he was also busy taking photos, were on the course radioing in what was happening.

For the Relay and the Junior women’s race, which happened Wednesday afternoon, radioing in plaque numbers and what was happening during the race, wasn’t too difficult. There were next to no crowds to get in my way and the racers spread out quickly. Sunstroke was more of a worry than anything else for both the racers and the spectators.

Wednesday night, after spending most of the day on the side of the mountain and the rest in the media centre transcribing interviews from the racers off the iPhone Canadian Cyclist lent me for the week, we went to a special event for the World Championships media. We had a guided tour from Mont-Sainte-Anne to Quebec City, and then watched a light show from the balcony of a fancy building, all the while being fed tiny but delicious hors d’oeuvre and being served wine by finely dressed waiters. Caribou stew in tiny jars, creme brulee in tablespoon-sized dishes and countless other delicacies. And did I mention there was a live band?

Thursday morning we were back in the media centre bright and early to be ready for the U23 women’s race. I hadn’t thought I’d be able to watch the race before getting the internship with Canadian Cyclist but I was very happy to be there. Some of the girls I’ve been racing against since I was thirteen qualified for the race and so it was fun to cheer them on. I interviewed Andreanne Pichette at the end of the race, who I’ve been racing against for the past seven years.

After transcribing all of the interviews from the Canadian U23 women and the press conference, we went to watch the downhill official timed session. Now, I’ve never downhill biked or even watched a whole race, so I was a little uneasy about interviewing the racers after their race, but almost all the racers were really nice and happy to talk about their training run. I learned that it’s a lot harder to ask someone about their run when they’ve had a bad time than when they’re happy with their result.

Then, Pennywise!

And up again early Friday morning for the Junior Men’s race. It was a fun race to watch from the zig-zags, with the Dutch rider dominating the field, two Canadians in the top-ten and the members of Antoine Caron’s fan club running around with CARON #1 written on their chests.

The U23 men’s race started at 2pm Friday afternoon. An exciting race to be in the tech zone for. There were several flats and stressed riders stopping in the tech zone. Switzerland dominated the race with all three podium spots.

After the press conference and more interview transcribing, it was time for the 4X event, where the Czech and Australian riders dominated. It was another event I’d never watched before, but it definitely isn’t the last time I’ll watch it. It’s such a spectator-friendly event! There were screens all around the base of the hill where I was standing, trying to catch racers and interview them as they finished. As the racers came down the hill, you could tell where they were because of the flashes going off behind them.

The week just flew by, and suddenly it was Saturday, the day we Quebecers were all waiting for to see Marie-Helene Premont. Both the women’s race and the men’s race were very exciting. I could have done without the excitement at the end of the women’s race when Catherine Pendrel was passed and finished fourth, like she did at the Olympics, but she put on a great fight for the crowds. Rob Jones introduced me to her Dad, who was out on the zig-zag climb, along with thousands of other people, cheering her on.

It was very exciting to interview Julien Absalon after his race, or rather put my recorder under his nose while ten other reporters did the same thing. He’s been the pinnacle of what mountain biking is to me since I saw him race at Mont-Sainte-Anne as a Cadet or U17.

Sunday came all too soon. I can see the appeal of following the World Cup circuit around the world. There are long hours and lots of work, but you develop an attachment to the race venue and the people around the race. It was amazing to have interviewed Lauren (Rosser) after her race on Wednesday, where she came 11th, and then see her win the World Championship title on Sunday. I swear my eyes got a little blurry when the last rider came down the hill and Lauren was still sitting in first place.

There were only four racer's names I actually knew in the Elite Men’s Downhill race before going to Mont-Sainte-Anne, from watching my brother’s New World Disorder and Earthed movies:  Steve Peat, Gee Atherton, Sam Hill and Greg Minnaar. It was nerve-wracking to have Steve Smith sitting in the Hot Seat as the last riders, the only ones whose names I knew, were still at the top of the hill. It gave me shivers to hear the crowd erupt in cheers when Steve Peat came down the hill with a slower time than Steve Smith.

Then Girl Talk! A scalper asked me if I wanted to buy his ticket for half price as I was walking to the concert. No thanks! I have a media pass. I get in for free! And I also got to be on stage next to Girl Talk himself!

It was an amazing show and Mont-Sainte-Anne put on an amazing World Championships. I’m looking forward to the next time I can go to Worlds and the next time I can work with the Canadian Cyclist team.

Thanks to everyone who made my week unforgettable.

 

Sarah Moore at work during the 2010 MTB World Championships in Mont-Ste-Anne Quebec

sarah

 


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