All hail the ski techs at 2017 USSA Copper NorAms
Andrew Ginnelly has this whole ski-tuning thing down to a science.
It’s a sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy Thursday morning at Copper Mountain Resort when Ginnelly — known as Gino to friends and just about everyone else — is busy prepping skis on the first floor of Copper Station in East Village. Bustling all around him are half-dressed ski racers: guys and girls wearing thermals up top and race tights below, with a motley assortment of goggles, helmets, boots and national team flags. They ebb and flow through the ground level with dozens of random skiers, parents, coaches and the occasional custodian, everyone talking, everyone hustling and hurrying.
But not Gino. On the wall behind his makeshift tuning station is an enormous ode to the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center, featuring floor-to-ceiling stills of the team’s Olympic veterans: Julia Mancuso, Ted Ligety and the speed center itself, plus fading Sharpie signatures from just about everyone on the World Cup team. Like the NorAm super-G happening steps from his station, Gino rarely had the chance to see his athletes in action, sometimes by circumstance, sometimes by choice. It’s often much easier to set up a makeshift shop indoors, he said. There’s no wind or sun or snow, and there’s always a working outlet.
Gino is no stranger to a life lived behind the scenes. In a past life he was a year-round ski tech for the U.S. Developmental Ski Team, but these days he only meets up with the crew of eight up-and-coming alpine racers for a few months every winter to prep, pamper and repair dozens of pairs of skis. The Tennessee native is busy launching a landscaping business back home, so he only has time to meet up with the guys for nearly two weeks of racing at USSA NorAms (Feb. 1-11) and the next batch of FIS-level races in Aspen, beginning Feb. 12. After that, it’s back home to Tennessee for pre-summer business prep.
“I like this a little more, honestly,” Ginnelly said as he buffed one pair of skis, looked it over briefly, secured the two together and moved on to the next pair. “It’s not as crazy. I have time to go home.”
As the fray flowed about his station, Gino kept a steady hand and careful eye on the jet-black ski bases. It’s not often that one tech works with eight athletes — most teams and even clubs cut that number in half — but he doesn’t mind. It simply means he can’t take a coffee break between races. His boys raced in two events that day, and when conditions were sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy, tuning could mean the difference between finishing in the top-15 or the lowly bottom third.
Gino knew the stakes and did his part. All hail the wax men.
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