The Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony kicks off today, another reminder that behind every big event service techs are working to make it happen. In Sochi, that work is ongoing. From electricians who keep the lights on — or install fixtures in the first place — to ice-making experts who create the perfect curling sheet, the games couldn’t happen without the folks behind the scenes. Keep reading to see how techs keep things moving in Sochi — and at home:

Going for Gold in Olympic Ice-Making

If ice-making were an Olympic sport, Canadian Hans Wuthrich would own the podium. Wuthrich is foreman of a 25-person crew that keeps the ice pristine for Olympic curlers. His crew has a cool tool in its arsenal: Eye on the Ice, a wireless, ice-monitoring system that Wuthrich invented. The system uses sensors in the ice and transmitters in the venue to allow the crew “to monitor readings of air temperature, dew point, humidity and temperature of ice sections on a computer or smartphone so they can ensure conditions are consistent and optimal for the competitors,” according to The Record. Here’s a video of the device in action:

Read more at The Record

The Devil’s in the Details 

The world has arrived in Sochi, but there’s plenty of work yet to be done. Techs are busy with the final details, from preparing the stages at event finish lines to installing electricity in athletes’ Olympic Village apartments. The Guardian has a rundown of the scramble to complete construction. Want to follow along? The Twitter hashtag #SochiProblems has the play-by-play.

See more at The Guardian

Creating Blades To Save 1/1000 of a Second

Speed skating is a sport where fractions of a second separate medal winners from athletes who go home empty-handed. Engineers and technicians from two University of Calgary organizations, the Schulich School of Engineering and The Oval (site of the speed skating races during the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics) have teamed up to save those precious fractions. How? They’ll use a high-tech blade sharpening system that will allow skaters to adjust blades on a moment’s notice. The system isn’t complete, so speed skaters will have to wait until the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea to put the new blades to the test.

Read more at CTV News

Digging Out from Historic U.S. Snowfall 

Old Man Winter has been conspicuously absent from Sochi, but the majority of the U.S. can’t say the same. A major winter storm this week left much of the Midwest and East Coast reeling. The heavy snowfall in Kalamazoo, Mich., has airfield technician Chris Sieklucki and his techs logging long hours to keep the local airport open for business. Sieklucki and his crew’s tool of choice to keep the runways clear? A $650,000 MB5 Mid-Mount Broom, a combination snow plow and oversized broom.

Read more at MLive