Road to PyeongChang: How logistics experts and athletes prepare for the Olympics

“Combination of planning and flexibility is crucial”

The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang will begin on February 9, the highlight of the four-year Olympics cycle not only for the athletes of Team Germany. After years of preparation, DB Schenker, Official Logistics Partner of Team Germany, is also determined to deliver a perfect mega-event. Time for gold.

Logistik aktuell spoke to Johannes Rydzek, Germany’s Sports Personality of the Year 2017, to find out what the preparations of a six-time Nordic Combined world champion have in common with the work of a logistics company and to hear about the differences between the two “Olympic participants”.

Step-by-step preparations for the mega-event

For the team at DB SCHENKERsportsevents, the rough planning for the mega-event began around 18 months before the start of the Winter Olympics. To begin with, the logistics experts defined the overall conditions and drew up the initial roadmap for the following 18 months. Johannes Rydzek began to prepare for the Games just a little later, when he started his summer training program in April 2017. Even if Rydzek, who has already won two Olympic medals, claims that he prepares meticulously for every evernt, he does concede that he pays more attention to one detail or another when it comes to the Olympics. “The whole summer is devoted to detailed  preparations to ensure step-by-step progress.”

Step-by-step is also the approach that the logistics pros at DB Schenker take when making their plans for the Olympics. They turned their attention to the details roughly eight months before the start of the event – unlike the six-time world champion, who puts off concentrating on the highlight of the season for as long as possible. “It is not good to focus on the Olympics too far in advance, because you lose track of your everyday activities and your daily business. You only give your full focus to the Olympics when they are the next competition in the line-up. But of course they are there at the back of your mind long before that. “

““Combination of planning and flexibility is crucial“ #JohannesRydzek on DB #Schenker’s and athlete’s preparations for the @Olympics. @TeamD “

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Months in the country and stopovers to the Olympic venue

For weeks, the DB SCHENKERsportsevents project managers have returned to the Korean mountains again and again to make sure that the 48 containers of ocean freight and the 27 tons of air freight that DB Schenker has to deliver to PyeongChang for Team Germany, for erecting and equipping the German House, and for the large number of hospitality customers, all get through customs safely and reach their destinations on time.

Johannes Rydzek has also been to PyeongChang already to get to know the local conditions. He can already look back on some initial successes there: he won both test events that took place in PyeongChang a year before the Games, the first time he had performed at this venue. However, the Olympic Games are completely different from a normal competition, says Rydzek. The public attention, the interest from fans and the bustle of the media all create a totally different atmosphere. Unlike the logistics specialists, the experienced Nordic Combined contestant prefers not to arrive at the venue too early. “We will fly out to PyeongChang on February 10 and the first event for me will be on February, 14. Although I don’t like to be on the scene too early, I have to give myself enough time to acclimatize.”

Finale preparations: last polish and pressure

Rydzek uses the last few weeks before the Olympics “to get fit, find my rhythm and give my performance the final polish.” The 26-year-old refuses to give in to pressure from others: “I want to go to Korea and be able to say I have prepared as well as I possibly can, I am in good form and looking forward to the races. Of course I dream of winning a medal, but I am well aware that joy and sorrow are never far apart at mega sports events.”

In the last few weeks before the Olympics begin, the entire DB Schenker works under extreme pressure. The first athletes arrive roughly a week before the start of the Games. The German House has to be ready for use by February, 8, one day before the Olympics begin.

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Logistics and Nordic Combined

By that time, the logistics professionals will have completed highly diverse tasks, ranging from the rough planning to just-in-time delivery of the equipment and implementation of the entire plans. Rydzek believes that this combination of a large number of disciplines, each with different requirements, is similar to his own sport. That is why the go-for-gold candidate also speaks on behalf of the staff at DB Schenker when summing up the conditions needed to ensure successful performance after months of preparation:

“The combination of planning and flexibility is crucial. I, personally, am somebody who can plan well and I then abide by the schedule I have drawn up. But even if you have planned everything from start to finish, you always have to bear in mind that things can change completely from one minute to the next during a competition. It is always a challenge to strike the right balance between sticking to your plans and responding to the individual situation in time. If I manage to do that, I can then perform successfully.”

The next blog post will show how the paths of Johannes Rydzek and the DB Schenker Team cross before and during the Olympics.

Nordic Combined

Nordic combined is a winter sport in which athletes compete in cross-country skiing and ski jumping. It is part of the Olympic programme since 1924. The Olympic Winter Games includes three events. In Individual, there are two events: Ski jumping normal hill + 10km cross-country skiing; and ski jumping large hill and 10km cross-country skiing. In the team competition four-person teams race over a 5km course comprising of a combination of large hill ski jumping and cross-country skiing. Johannes Rydzek is the current World Champion in all three events.