TOBYHANNA TOWNSHIP — A man from the Poconos is gearing up for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Not only will he be watching the games, he’ll also be coordinating two of the competitions.
Bill Van Gilder has been involved with snowboarding for years, both as an athlete and an organizer of the sport. Now he’s heading to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia to coordinate two competitions there. He’s excited for the experience and will not let security concerns get in his way.
Van Gilder is holding his credential for the Olympics, which says he’s a “Technical Delegate.” That means he is working with the Olympic Committee to help coordinate two events. It’s a position he was accepted for last year.
“I was super excited for sure,” said Van Gilder.
One of the competitions he’s coordinating is the half-pipe event for snowboarding and skiing.
The other event is the slope style event, which is a new competition at the Olympics.
“That’s a series of tricks the athletes perform on jumps, rails, staircases, very street style features,” said Van Gilder.
Van Gilder, who almost made it to the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, is excited about the opportunity in Sochi, Russia. He isn’t letting the security concerns get in his way.
“I’m not scared,” said Van Gilder.
Security in Sochi, Russia has been elevated after recent threats of terrorism during the Olympic Games. That concerns Van Gilder’s wife, Rebecca, who was thinking about going to Russia with her husband. She is now staying behind.
“I’m a little nervous. I actually said ‘don’t go.’ But on both spectrums, I know how important it is to him, and on the other side, he’s the only husband I got,” said Rebecca.
But if something where to happen, Van Gilder says his group has a plan. Each member of his team and other officiating crews will carry a GPS device to track where they are at all times.
“Once we’re on site, we’ll meet with representatives to identify all the many safe zones that we would have to make our way to, heaven forbid, something does occur,” said Van Gilder.
Bill Van Gilder is leaving for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia next week.