Evening activities in our cabin at Östersund: cozy reading on the couch, a sewing project spread across the floor, online research for a school assignment. We are all absorbed by our individual projects.
Suddenly a squealing noise sounds from out in the parking lot. We look up at each other confused. What in the world?!?
Then realization dawns and there is a rush to the door. We pull on our boots as fast as we can, grab our coats and head outside, giddy with delight. The wax techs have arrived!
Sure enough, there is the Boxer cargo van and the VW right behind it. Out of the Boxer climb Gara and Hansi, two of our wax technicians. The source of the pig-like squealing was Gara’s special barnyard animal horn. It can make a variety of animal noises: moos, whineys, and clucks. Blaring it upon arrival and departure is one of Gara’s trademarks.
The first order of business is hugs all around. Gara takes three of us in a bear hug at once. The wax techs are a cherished part of our winter-time family and we haven’t seen them in months. They are a crazy bunch, hailing from Czech, Germany and Sweden. Every day they collaborate with us over ski care and entertain us around the dinner table with their relentless banter. They work incredibly hard but also help keep the team atmosphere light.
The techs had driven all the way up from the team’s base in Bavaria carrying skis, waxing eqiupment, new Adidas uniforms, and personal gear that we had left in Germany. They had intended to arrive a day earlier, but missed the ferry by 10 minutes and got stuck in Hamburg for an extra 24 hours.
“How was ‘Hamburger’?” we ask. “We heard you missed the ferry to Sweden. Did you hit traffic?”
“Ah, it’s Gara’s fault. Four or five times we stopped for him to pee,” Hansi explained.
“Nay! It’s because Hansi stopped for food,” Gara countered.
Within a few minutes, the rest of the team and staff has emerged from their cabins to greet the new arrivals. We chit chat and catch up as we start unloading numerous boxes and heavy duffels
. Many hands make light work, and in a short order all the luggage has been sorted and carted away.
Much of our biathlon family is back together now and we are ready for the routines of the racing season.