INDIANA JONES stands at the base of the Jeongseon Alpine Center in the mountains outside PyeongChang, South Korea last week. She's at the Olympics as an internship with her school's sports management program.
Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
February 21, 2018PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Sometimes, it pays off to wait. Just ask Indiana Jones.
The Prospect Mountain graduate, who helped lead the Timber Wolves to the 2014 girls' alpine Division III championship, is a senior at Ithaca College in New York and was putting off finding a six-credit internship to finish off her degree.
As it turns out, waiting until her senior year was a good choice, as the Winter Olympics suddenly became an option.
"We have to do a six-credit internship for our major," Jones said as she sat in the grandstands at the Jeongseon Alpine Center high in the remote mountains above PyeongChang. "I waited until I found something I wanted to do and it turns out the Olympics was it."
Jones was on the golf team at Ithaca and noted that finding something that didn't conflict with her golf commitments was tough. She had to give up skiing on the alpine team to make the trip.
"It was hard to find a six-credit internship that doesn't conflict with golf," she said. "I gave up skiing to come here.
"But I ended on a really great note (last season) and was happy to walk away from it on that note," she said. "But it is kind of sad watching all these people race."
One professor and 20 students from Ithaca's sports management program made the trek to South Korea for the Olympics. Jones notes that she doesn't see a lot of them, as they are all spread out in different venues, but she does work with two others in the Gangneung Ice Arena, which is home to figure skating and short track speed skating.
And as it turns out, she got a first-hand look at the Koreans' fascination with short track on the very first day, as she was working the gate.
"People were just running right past me," she said. "We had about 100 people trying to see this thing."
Her job at the Olympics includes a little bit of everything at Gangneung Ice Arena. That includes working the gate, ushering and working the access control point, which is where media, athletes and others with credentials access the venue.
"We're making sure people go where they're supposed to go," she said. "I've met a lot of athletes, which is cool."
There are more than 200 volunteers in her venue alone and she found the schedule interesting, in that they work for 40 minutes, then get a 20-minute break every hour, plus a lunch or dinner break.
And her job has also given her a new appreciation for figure skating.
"I have liked figure skating more in person, watching it live," she said.
She's also noted the language barrier can be difficult when dealing with her peers and her boss. Most of the volunteers she works with are Korean and speak very little English. They have figured out that if they take her where she needs to be and show her what needs to be done, she gets it done.
However, it's not all work for Jones while in South Korea, as her days off provide her the chance to attend a lot of different events at the Olympics and she has particular interest in the alpine events, as someone who has followed alpine skiing closely her entire life. She had tickets for the men's giant slalom, the women's downhill, the women's giant slalom and the team event, in addition to the men's alpine combined, which was running at Jeongseon on the day she sat down with us. She had also already seen women's moguls and ski jumping and plenty of figure skating and short track.
And a scheduling change allowed her to see the race she really wanted to see but originally couldn't, women's slalom.
"I've never really watched a ski race from a seat before," she said. "It's different."
What's also different is the transportation system she has to utilize in Korea. To get to Jeongseon, which in fairness is in a remote location, far removed from most of the other Olympic venues, she had to take four different buses, including one that went in the opposite direction at one point. And since her accommodations are an hour from the arena, she and her fellow employees rely on buses to get there as well and on the first day, they sent one bus to pick them all up, which resulted in two groups being four hours late for work.
"So I've learned to get to the bus early," she said.
And as for the post-Olympic life for Jones?
She is finishing up two classes before graduation in May and has already secured a job in the golf industry, working as an assistant pro at Sugarloaf in Maine. She will be taking the PGA test in the summer and working toward the proper certificates, which she said takes about two years.
"You have to work at a course while taking the classes," she said.
She's also applied for a coaching job at Carrabasset Valley Academy, which is where her brother, Dow, is a student and ski racer. She's finished her certification for that as well.
If she gets the job, she'll spend a year possibly working with her brother, though she noted he's been learning lately that she knows what she's talking about when it comes to skiing and will listen to her advice.
"We've got to the point that he knows I know what I'm talking about," Jones said. "And he actually listens to what I have to say and he asks me for advice."
For now, Jones was enjoying her final days in South Korea and taking a boatload of memories home from one of the coolest six-credit internships in history.
"When else am I ever going to get to say I came to the Winter Olympics and worked them and went to all the events," she said.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.