Andrew Chisholm is a Canadian ski technician and former biathlete. He was born in Calgary on the 17th of November 1991 and started biathlon at age 13. He recently retired from the sport and is now preparing the skis for his former teammates.
Follow Andrew on Twitter: @andrewkchisholm
You gave up biathlon and became a ski technician. Why was that?
There were definitely multiple reasons as to why I quit, but one big reason was that I was just struggling to improve and keep my performances at a level I found acceptable. I’m not a small guy by any means, so I struggled a lot with the big climbs. I ended up becoming a ski technician a little bit by accident. I was attempting a transition into sliding sports (I was hoping to be a bobsleigh brakeman for the 2015/16 season) and I was actually hitting all of the testing numbers that I needed to do so (weight lifting, sprinting, jumps, throws, etc), but I ended up having a brutal hamstring injury a few days before the official tryout day. I couldn’t even walk properly, and I knew it was going to be a long road for proper recovery, so I asked our then head technician Tom Zidek if I could try to get on board with the wax team and he took me on right away. What I was thinking would be a little bit of part time work turned into an incredible opportunity, and I’m more than grateful for it!
Can you describe your typical race weekend?
We arrive a few days before the first race, get the skis cleaned and zeroed with the same wax for testing, and then it becomes a bit of a cycle of testing, cleaning, waxing, repeat! Race day is just a repeat of that process except we will test the wax and best skis for the day and get those skis out to the athletes on time.
What are the best and worst things about being a ski technician?
I honestly love everything about being a ski technician. Everything from the skiing, the testing, being on tour, the creativity we can use to try and gain an edge over the other nations… all I’ve really done is apply my love of competition to ski teching instead of racing!
The worst parts might be the long time away from your family and friends, but with how well you can keep in touch with Skype or Facetime nowadays, it’s not so bad. You have a bit of a family on the road too.
Are you responsible for certain biathletes skis or do help with them all?
I help with them all. Some days each tech will take on a certain athlete with the testing, but the team works as a whole to make sure everyone has the best skis possible.
Have you ever had any waxidents? (accidents with wax)
I’ve burned my arm with the iron once, dumped over base cleaner a few times… The only real accident I can remember was once I waxed an athlete’s skis differently that we had tested to be best, but there was plenty of time to re-wax them the way we had agreed on!
Is the world of wax very secretive? Have you ever been tempted to go and spy on what the other teams are doing? Do they spy on you?
Kind of. No. Not sure.
Do you ever get wax truck envy or are you happy with Canada’s set up?
I don’t get envy at all, we are able to do a pretty good job with what we have. I’m mostly happy with the set up, there are a few things I would have done differently if I was designing it all from the ground up, but I think that would be the same for anyone. Everyone has their own vision!
Do you have any good waxing tips for the non-expert?
Yeah, remember to do it 😉 In terms of race waxing, I’d say make sure you brush and wipe down your skis well. It doesn’t matter how fast your wax is if you don’t finish it properly!
Canada had a great season in 2015/16 with a World Championship bronze for the Men’s Relay Team and a Single Mixed Relay podium. Is it a coincidence that this happened in your first season? How much credit are you taking for the success?
With a question like that I feel like you’ve been hearing some rumours! I’d definitely say it was a coincidence. I won’t deny that I brought something new to the team, but I can’t take very much credit at all. It was the culmination of several years of hard work done by the athletes, coaches, staff, and tech crew before me. In my opinion it had been a long time coming and it just happened to all come together the year that I joined the team.
Did your rifle have a name?
Describe yourself in three words.
I am terrible at things like this so I asked some of my best friends outside of biathlon and this is what they came up with:
“Is remarkably average.” (You can really feel the love with that one…)
Maybe the best three words that describe me are probably “Up to something”
Quick fire Questions:
Favourite biathlete (past or present): The Canadians. I grew up training and racing with them, having them as role models, or both!
Favourite biathlon track: Whistler.
Favourite event: (sprint, pursuit etc): Pursuit
Best race you have prepared skis for: Best result: Ostersund Single Mixed Relay (also my first race with the team)
Most Fun: Relays at Presque Isle
Best skis: Obertilliach IBU Cup
Favourite wax tech: Can’t choose just one!
Favourite wax truck (not your own): The French team. They have one of the best ventilation systems in my opinion.
Favourite ski suit design (any nation): For the last season, I think the Finnish had the best.
Favourite rifle design: I liked my old stock that I built with the Van Halen style paintjob, but Nathan Smith’s is probably #1 for me right now.
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