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  5. XC Ski Equipment, Setup Timelines, and Staffing Requirements

XC Ski Equipment, Setup Timelines, and Staffing Requirements

Equipment Required

All of the following equipment is necessary to time a FIS-level race.  Zone4 can provide most equipment for rental if needed, but there are some items that are usually provided by the LOC marked in the right column.   Zone4 will review this list with each race during our onboarding process so both parties are clear who is responsible for which equipment. 

Equipment TypeNoteLOC
ChainsawFor cutting in loops
Snow RakeFor cleaning up after installing loops and finish line
Start WandFIS homologated start wand with banana cables to connect to summit
Start PostOne to attach the start gate to, a second one to go on the other side of the starter.
Start HornFor mass start and sprint starts
Start ClockIf the start clock does not have a battery that can run all day, then we’re going to need to run power out to the clock too.  Needs to be right next to the start line so racers can hear it beep
Summit TimersSRT2000.  Minimum 4 required.
(2 at the start, 2 at the finish)  Additional 2 SRT500/1000 may be required for backup.
Thermal PrintersIncl cable – One for each SRT2000 timer.  Thermal Printer for Summit
Thermal paperEnough roles of paper for the event
Sync Activator + sync cableOne Sync Activator + Sync Cable for synchronising Summits to new FIS standard
Summit TripodsTripod and mounting bracket to hold each summit.  Summits have a standard ¼” thread on the back for the tripod to screw into.
Summit PlungersMinimum 3.  1 at the start, 2 at finish.
AA BatteriesEach summit requires 2 AA batteries to run the timer, and another 2 to run the wireless. Please see here for our recommendation: https://help.zone4.ca/kb/rechargeable-lithium-aa-batteries/
Finish Photocell2 FIS Homologated Photocells with banana cables to connect to summit
RapidCam & tripod
Ethernet cables For photofinish.  Need to know how long the cable needs to reach so we can bring a long enough cable.  Ethernet max cable length is 100m per the ethernet spec
Photofinish LaptopDedicated laptop for photofinish, cannot be used for anything else all day.  Needs to have windows operating system.
Freeze Time CableFor connecting start wand to GoChip
Finish ClockLarge display clock visible from the finish – can be on the building or something, doesn’t need to actually be at the finish line.
If the finish clock does not have a battery that can run all day, then we’re going to need to run power out to the clock too.
Finish LinePainted boards or metal u-channel to install in the snow
TV & laptopTo display scrolling results on (optional)
Fast Laser Printer For printing results.  At least one extra toner cartridge should also be on hand.
Backup PrinterIf there will be a second printer on site (e.g. race office), that printer could serve as the backup timing printer.
White PaperFor printing results. At least 1 ream per day.  Timing will print results / start list in white so the race office can photocopy & distribute in the color of the day.
ServerBox+Bullet + Switch (Zone4 will bring)
Summit ModemPlugged into ServerBox for communicating with Summits
UPSThe serverbox and RapidCam should be connected to a UPS that has enough power to handle small power interruptions.
Power StripsThere’s a lot of things that need to be plugged in or charged up in the timing office.  We should have at least three power strips and three 6′ extension cords for the timing office
Main Timing LaptopFor monitoring times coming in
Secondary Timing LaptopFor whatever else comes up, or as a spare in case a laptop dies
Results Production LaptopShould be set up and tested as working with the main race printer and the backup printer before the race happens.
Announcer laptop15” or bigger screen recommended, for displaying timing data for the announcer
GoChip activatorsMinimum 3: start, finish, lap.  Recommend 4 so we don’t have to steal the lap one if something goes wrong at start or finish.  Plus one more for each mid-lap split point, if there are mid-lap split points.
GoChip loopsOne 6m per split/lap.  One 6m for start.  One 12m for finish.  At least one extra 12m and one extra 6m
GoChip Phones + USB Battery BricksFor reading GoChips,  generally one per timing point.
Phone StandsSmall tripods to hold phones off the snow.
GoChip activator chargers1 per activator
GoChips1 per racer
Table, tent, or stands For holding chip racks up during chip handout
RadiosAt least four radios, with a dedicated channel for timing: Chief of TimingChief of StartChief of FinishTiming Office
WhiteboardFor recording DNS & DNF calls or notes on problem racers as they come in over the radio or from the race office.
Timing officeShould have a view of the finish area, desk/table space for 4+ people, chairs, power, heat…
ClipboardsMinimum 3: assistant starter, chief of start, finish recorder.  Ideally 6+ because people like clipboards. + 1 for pushing the loop wire into the chainsaw groove.
Bib recorder sheets
  • All equipment should be on site and tested and the timing room should be mostly set up the day before the first race.  
  • Any laptops provided by the LOC should have:
    • A reasonably fast processor and bare minimum 4GB of RAM.
    • Google Chrome installed
    • Operating system updates either done recently, or disabled.  Don’t want them updating during the race – especially if the race site only has cell service internet.
    • a 13″ screen or larger
    • Support for 5GHz wifi (if it says it supports 802.11b/g/n then it doesn’t do 5GHz, if it says a/b/g/n or b/g/n/ac then it does)
    • either should not have a password, or should have the password written on a sticker on the laptop.
    • The correct power adapter, labelled for which laptop it goes with

Equipment Setup Timeline

With the new FIS equipment and procedures, some things are going to take longer than previous years and we feel it is important to set expectations and standardise best practices around race day setup.

Equipment Pre-event

  • Ensure chainsaw is charged/fueled and TESTED.
  • Ensure ServerBox is connected and online.
  • Ensure Summit Device numbers are correct 
  • Test sending times from Summits to ServerBox
  • Bootup all phones and test activators to ensure chip reads are pushing to the correct location (remote splits pusing to Web, stadium phones pushing to ServerBox.)
  • Setup and align Rapidcam and test sending times to ServerBox
  • Ensure all equipment (Activators, Phones, Clocks, USB Battery bricks) are on chargers
  • Ensure AA Batteries for Summits are charged/charging.
  • Bootup all laptops and ensure they are set to the correct time zone. Failure on this point will lead to incorrect startlist printing and mis-representation of times in the assigned times fields.
  • Ensure the time-zone is set on the ServerBox in the “Manage ServerBox” area. This is critical after switch-club has been run because Summit Times can only be received correctly if the time zone is set (something that was previously enforced by synchronizing the Summits via the ServerBox, but now is not enforced due to the new FIS synchronization procedures.
  • Ensure all windows updates are completed
  • Label all GoChip activators and Phones to their role/location.
  • Label all Summits to their role and location keeping to the rule of one-summit-per-role. Doubling up roles on summits is technically possible but increases cognitive load on timers and raises risks of cabling error significantly.
  • Write up a Device plan that records the device numbers of Activators, Summits, and Phones at each location.  This is needed both for gear deployment and race file setup so ensure it’s in a shareable location such as google drive.  
  • Have a map of exact timing point locations agreed to by the jury – timing setup starts on race day before Jury arrives and we can’t afford wasted time moving the startpost 3 times.  
  • Ensure you know when the timing office will open. If the timing office will not be open early enough, we need to know that so we can find alternate storage for our timing equipment.  If it’s locked away until 1hr before start, we won’t be able to start the race on time.
  • Write up a race morning plan so you know exactly what needs to be installed by whom and in what order.  Below is a typical plan with discussion points on key items.  In the following plan, the race starts at 9am so set up begins at 6am.

Race Day

  • 6 am – Arrive on-site and gather up loops, chainsaw, clipboard, and any activators , phones, battery bricks, phone stands, bags, loop checker and 2 race chips going out to setup/test remote points.
  • 6:05-6:45 Using chainsaw, cut in loop lines for remote splits.  We typically allocate 15min per timing point + travel time for remote splits.  We want to get loops installed before coaches and athletes start skiing around wax testing.  Test using both a loop checker and real race chip to ensure times get synced back to Web.
  • 6:45-7:00 Cut in Lap and Freeze time loop after start as well as any cutting required for Start post.  The activators, phone, and summits in the stadium area can generally wait till later – focus on getting loops and wires in and chainsaw work finished.
  • 7:00-7:15 Place finish line boards and mark snow, then cut out finish line slot, photocell post slots, and finish loop.  Install loop and get a volunteer to start digging out the finish line groove (letting snow cover up the now inserted loop wires on either side.)  Note there is a lot going on in a tight area at the finish, we want to finish all the chainsawing before any wires are in the ground. 
  • 7:15-7:30 Install start post and photocells – start post needs time to freeze-in. Ensure start post wires are velcroed to the back of the post and buried over to the Start Summits and Activator in such a way that poles cannot damage the wires.
  • 7:30-7:45 Back inside, bootup all Summits, Activators, phones and Start Clock.  Perform FIS synchronisation procedure as outlined here and record details on FIS timing report: https://help.zone4.ca/kb/how-to-synchronize-fis-timing-devices/  After syncronization, ensure Summit times are going to ServerBox.
  • 7:45-8:00 Deploy all GoChip activators and phones.  Test using both a loop checker and real race chip to ensure times get synced back to ServerBox.
  • 8:00-8:10 Deploy Summits, Summit tripods and Summit Printers
  • 8:10-8:15 Test Freeze-time cable and ensure time synchronisation between the wand Summit time and frozen GoChip time.  Test each start and finish input individually and confirm via radio each input is going to the right column of the times grids.
  • 8:15-8:25 Ensure RapidCam is booted and focused and perform synchronisation procedures to align RapidCam with the main time base. 
  • 8:25-8:30 Deploy start clock. 
  • 8:30-8:45 Review operational procedures with timing crew at Start and rehearse full start procedures using real chip and person fake starting.  Ensure data is coming in well.  Alpine has the concept of forerunner which is great for ensuring the timing system is all tested and ready to go.  We don’t have that concept in XC, but you can simulate it so the volunteers get the jitters out and you’re sure the data is working.  
  • 8:45-8:55 Review operational procedures with timing crew at Finish and rehearse with someone running across with a chip.  Confirm time synchronisation with RapidCam
  • 9:00 Race Start and everyone is in lock-down.

The above plan would be typical of a team of 2 with a volunteer taking care of the finish line install.  With more resources it could perhaps be condensed a bit, but from our experience, not by much.  One technique some clubs are utilising is to pre-install/bury loop wires in the summer at set locations such as the finish line which shave some setup time.  The goal is to have all the hardware in place and tested with 1hr to go so plan enough time and resources to ensure you’re not stressed.

Staff Required (In timing office)

Zone4 Timing LeadManage timing office tasks and troubleshooting
Photofinish operatorReview photofinish data, click on toes
Start/Lap Data MonitorWatch data come in from the Start/Lap.
Finish Data MonitorWatch / process times coming in from Finish.
Results Production (runner)Watch for when a category has completed.  Print results when categories have completed.  Deliver printed results to the race office / results board. Monitor live results
Extra person for sprint daysSprints are hard
AnnouncerNot really timing staff, but the announcer booth is just usually near the timing office somewhere so they can join our wifi network & communicate with us.

Staff Required (On Snow)

Chief of TimingInterface with Jury, timing volunteers, race office, course controllers.  Ensure all on-snow staff are trained & in place at the correct time.  Coordinate relief staff where necessary on long days with no breaks
Chief of StartSupervise the start, be available to handle any unexpected situation that comes up at the start that needs attentionManage late startersCommunicate any anomalies (late starts, false starts, accidentally trip the start gate) to the timing office.Monitor the radio for calls from the timing office.Must have no other role at the start.  The chief of start is not the starter.
Chip Handout2 people if possible, 4+ for Mass Starts
StarterBlow the start horn in a mass start
Reset the start wand after each racer in an individual start race
Assistant StarterEnsure starters are lined up properly.  Can be helpful to have more than one person doing this, especially for larger mass start categories.
Start Summit OperatorOnly required for individual start & sprint qualifier
False Start ControllerNot required for interval starts.
Chief of FinishSupervise the finish, be available to handle any unexpected situation that comes up at the finish that needs attentionMonitor the radio for calls from the timing office.Must have no other role at the finish.  The chief of finish is not the caller, recorder, or summit operator
CallerCalls out bib numbers as racers approach the finish line
RecorderWrites down the numbers the caller is calling
Summit Post + PlungeEnters bib numbers when possible and ‘posts’ them before the finish.  Plunges everybody.
Chip RetrievalEnsure chips are collected before racers leave the finish corral. Can be helpful to have more than one person doing this if high density finishes.

The Zone4 timing lead’s role is to ensure everything is set up correctly and we’re able to provide everybody with the data they need on time.  The Zone4 Timing Lead should not actually be doing the role of the chief of timing – the LOC Chief of Timing should, as much as possible, be the single point of contact between the timing office and the rest of the race – whether that is the race office, the jury, course controllers, or the on-snow timing staff.

The LOC chief of timing is responsible for ensuring the on-snow timing staff are trained in the use of summits, correct start procedures, etc.  The timing office staff do not need to have any training before the race – Zone4 staff will instruct them as the race happens.

Updated on 2022-12-07

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