In the photo, Hannu Hovila, grinder for the Finnish Olympic Team. Photo by Teemu Lemmettylä.

Containers are suitable for multiple purposes!

A seamless journey of the Finnish Olympic Team with almost 200 members to the Olympic scene is always a huge project, for which hundreds of professionals work. The official logistics partner of the Finnish Olympic Team is CHS, who also this year took care of the transportation of the Team’s freight to PyeongChang in South Korea, the setting of the latest Winter Olympics.

– We will always make sure that goods are ready for loading on time and that all the necessary documents are in place. All packaging must be suitable for transportation by sea, and it must be properly marked. We will check that the goods are insured and find out all the regulations and formalities in the receiving country. Co-operation with the customer is of crucial importance, for it is not possible to over-emphasize the importance of the customer’s requirements and guidelines, Heikki Mattola of CHS explains.

Departure in good time – back home early summer

In addition to the Team of over 200 members, a big amount of its equipment – such as ski waxes and massage tables – was transported to the competitive arenas. On the spot in PyeongChang, one specific container served the servicing and maintenance of the Olympic Team’s all ski disciplines. Maintenance is in the Winter Olympics a huge operation, which directly affects success in the competition. CHS interviewed Teemu Lemmettylä, Project manager for the Finnish Olympic Team’s ski maintenance, and asked how successful this project was in Korea.

The container serving the ski disciplines left Finland for Korea already at the end of last year – in the middle of November- and it arrived in PyeongChang in mid-January this year. The container served both the Winter Olympics and the Paralympics as the grinding centre before beginning its return trip in mid-March back to Finland, where it was due end May.

Maintenance container as the grinding centre

According to Teemu Lemmettylä, the ski service container was used to transport to Korea not only the grinding machine but also other equipment, which is not needed during the world cup season of skiing. The total weight of the container with the equipment came up to altogether 3 000 kilos. At the destination in PyeongChang, CHS’ local co-operation partner Kemi Lee took care of transporting the container by truck from the port to the Olympic scene’s servicing area, where it was mounted on props.

Save for the grinding machine, all the rest of the equipment were moved for use by the Finnish ski team at another spot in the servicing area, so as not to disturb the use of the specially equipped container as the grinding centre during the Winter Olympics.

The grinding centre was originally a standard sea container, which was already at home in Finland equipped for serving as the maintenance spot. For example, its walls were insulated to keep the temperature inside the container consistently suitable for grinding. This was done so well that only at the very low temperatures of minus 20-30 Celsius a small additional heater was needed. Previously, when these specially equipped containers were not available, maintenance used small separately built huts, and as a rule, it was always cold to work in them in the winter season.

Maintenance is key in skiing

During the Winter Olympics, the maintenance of the ski disciplines plays a key role. The coaches work with athletes in the training season and before the competitions, but during the competitions only the maintenance together with the athletes themselves can influence the performance. When we are talking about the most important competitive events, such as the Winter Olympics, there are only a few ski maintenance professionals, whose work is up to the needed level. This means that just as with the athletes, in the work of these top maintenance professionals the timing of the top form is emphasized – everything must be all right for a whole month – and for just the correct month.

In the Winter Olympics, the ski maintenance team is an integral part of the Finnish Olympic Team. Just as the other groups in the Olympic Team, maintenance is also a team, whose seamless co-operation is of vital importance in fighting for the medals.

– Our maintenance is truly a team, which can truly succeed only as a team. Team work has a decisive influence on the end result. Iivo’s skis function, when all pieces fall together in the maintenance, Teemu Lemmettylä, Project Manager responsible for ski maintenance in the Finnish Olympic Team, explains. (Iivo, above, refers  to Iivo Niskanen, the Finnish athlete who won the gold medal in men’s 50 kilometres cross-country skiing in PyeongChang.)

The Finnish Olympic Team brought home six medals from Korea and fulfilled its pre-set goal.

Co-operation determines the result

All freight arrived to the Olympics in PyeongChang as planned – just at the right time and at the correct destinations. This was the result of many different things: timely project preparations, thorough planning, as well as continuous good co-operation between the Finnish Olympic Committee and its logistics partner CHS. Also the CHS choice of the shipping company and the local logistics partner in Korea, Kemi Lee, contributed to securing the success inf logistics.

– Our co-operation with the Finnish Olympic Committee began early in the project. Investing time and effort in planning the transportation is always a must. Its success is determined by good preparations, Heikki Mattola of CHS comments.