Ed Sacco (left) and Jerry Brown were a long way from home, serving as ski patrol workers at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (See more photos and stories from Sochi in the sports section of this week's paper.) Photo by Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
February 12, 2014ROSA KHUTOR, Russia — Far above the coastal city playing host to the 2014 Winter Olympics sits the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center, host to the numerous alpine skiing events being held during the Olympic Games.
And hovering amidst the excitement, standing at the ready are a couple of guys who are a long, long way from home, but also as close to home as they can get.
Loon Mountain ski patrol members Jerry Brown and Ed Sacco spent the first week of the Olympics serving as ski patrol members for the men's course at Rosa Khutor. This marks the pair's third Olympics, following Salt Lake City and Vancouver.
"We're always representing Loon," Brown said, holding his helmet with the Loon logo.
The duo notes that they used to work the Pro Tour at Loon for Ted Sutton and FIS (International Ski Federation). From that, the opportunity came along to do World Cup races and they jumped at the chance.
"We started in World Cup in the late 90s," Sacco said. "And it kind of progressed from there. We went to Canada and they loved us there."
So, Sacco and Brown have been working World Cup events all over Canada, serving numerous skiers over the years. Sacco remembers having to cart current US Olympian Laurenne Ross off the Lake Louise course in Alberta.
"She knows us well," Brown said. "Her and Lindsey (Vonn)."
Brown notes that Ross still has a scar over her eye from the crash on which they took her off the mountain.
The job for this Olympics was the Trampoline course crew, working the area of the course known as the Trampoline, one of the major jumps on the men's downhill course.
"We're there to do whatever we can to help out," Brown said.
They pointed out that their years of experience fixing the course, setting up the proper nets and keeping the course safe can give the racers an added source of comfort as they hurdle down the icy slope.
"It's all about the safety of the athletes," Brown said. "FIS does a wonderful job in how they set things."
But the idea for the ski patrol workers is that they need to be ready at all times, because you never know when duty might call in the form of a fallen skier.
"A lot of things might happen," Sacco said. "We have to be ready to get out there. It's high pressure to continue the race."
And despite being thousands of miles from their home mountain, the pair couldn't help but think of Loon as they stood near the base of the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center.
"We've got the most tremendous snowmaking system in the world," Brown said of the Lincoln ski area, noting the New Hampshire mountain's use of HDK tower guns. "They'll catch on here eventually."
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org