Behind the scenes at Medal Plaza
At 8 pm each evening, biathlon fans fill Medal Plaza with flags, cheering and music. The feeling is electric, excitement as the ceremonies are about to begin! It’s 20.19 and the crowd falls quiet in anticipation. An indigenous Sámi jojk fills the silence. But it’s not silent for long, the biathletes make their grand entrance and the fans go wild, getting to greet their super stars and cheer on their win!
From rigging lights and sound, to shoveling snow, entertaining with song and dance, and welcoming the biathletes: we went behind the scenes to meet the people who’ve made Medal Plaza possible. The volunteers and staff for the ceremonies are a tight-knit group who’ve been working non-stop to give the biathlon family a grand show every night of the world championships.
– I love biathlon as a sport, so to be behind the scenes and see how everything works has been so much fun. We’re a wonderful group and have an awesome time together, says Maike Stegemann, a German university student in service management and tourism, interning in the Green Room at Medal Plaza.
Elisabeth Viggeborn guides us through the green room — a misleading name as it’s 100% orange, the 2019 World Championship color. She’s poured her heart into bringing light to this dark room, the welcoming room for the medal winners. She’s combined artisan pieces such as the Östersund Snow Heart with borrowed pieces such as candelabras from Gamla Teatern to create a warm and welcoming entrance for the medal winners with a connection to Östersund.
We head upstairs, where a group of girls are curling their hair and fixing their make-up. They call themselves Mama’s Kitchen: three sisters from Östersund playing country tunes, and they’re prepping for the pre-show at Medal Plaza. Next door, Agnetha Bäckman, one of the group leaders of the ceremonies, is drawing up a play-by-play of the ceremony on a white board explaining to the hosts how they will present the medals. During the ceremony, a group of indigenous Sámi people will present a medal and an Östersund mascot to each of the winners. Sylvia Sparrok, one of the indigenous Sámi says;
– It’s an honour to stand on Medal Plaza and award the athletes their medals.
This diverse team of country-pop singer sisters, Sámi people, international students, artists and retirees make up the group behind Medal Plaza. They work closely together with lots of laughs and joy, to give the biathlon fans a wonderful show every night at 20.19!
Tonight March 16th is the last medal ceremony at Medal Plaza, the Championships last day March 17th all ceremonies will be held at the biathlon arena.
Top photo; Elisabeth Viggeborn in Medal Plaza green room.
Photo: Andreas Lindgren