The Sochi Network

Why are all those people sat high up in the trees?

The Sochi Network

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Climbing trees is fun, right? Well, only very small trees that are easy to shimmy up and down.

Most kids were told off by their parents for taking on trees that were too ambitious to climb or for staying up there too long, perhaps even falling off and breaking a bone or two.

But for alpine skiing coaches (many rather hilariously wearing goggles and ski boots) climbing trees is a very valuable aspect of their jobs. Therefore, much of a coach's time is spent bounding up big ones.

The reason for it is actually quite simple: lofty perches provide much better and more expansive views of the lengthy, hard to take in downhill courses.

Additionally, sitting high up allows coaches to plot the best possible lines and terrain for their skiers to navigate down the mountain.

So given this, it was no surprise to see coaches from most of the big teams at the Sochi Olympics claiming specific trees that they had specially picked out from the crowd along the Rosa Khutor course.

Comfortable seats were even fitted to favoured parts of the very best trees - in some cases, with room for more than one coach, even. Intrepid reporters were, in some cases, found climbing the trees themselves armed with a camera and a mic as they desperately sought to interview the men behind some of the biggest triumphs of the Games so far.

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As USA men's head coach Sasha Rearick explained, it can often be quite a complicated and difficult business, but it is well worth all the hassle for the potential advantages.

"You first go up, put the rope up, and do the old telephone pole technique with spikes on your feet," he said.

"Then the next days, you put your fixed line up and you just (climb) up, like you're doing a big wall."

Rearick himself picked a specific spot on the Big Pan section of the course, halfway down above the key Bear's Brow jump. His seat is placed 100-150ft above the ground!

"There's advantages and disadvantages," Rearick said. "The advantage is I can see a lot more of the course. You can see the difference in line relatively well.

"The disadvantages are you don't see the angle when the athlete comes in and picks the ski up.

"So that's what we actually changed today, we put some different video spots to look at where you pick the ski up before the roll. On the ground. Coaches on the ground."

So if you see people sat in trees as if it's the most normal thing in the world, likely wearing ski boots, goggles and shouting into the distance, don't be too alarmed. They are just doing their jobs.

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