Are you ready for surface talk?! This week we’re joined by Paul Kamphuis, general manager at Polytan Asia Pacific, to talk about hockey turf. Paul tells us how the surface is made, why it’s watered, and he’s got a job Jill would like to do come Games time.
Coincidentally this week was also Hockey Turf Day, so we hoped you celebrated appropriately. If you haven’t, watch “The Surface,” a really interesting documentary about the evolution of hockey turf. The “Smurf Turf,” as it was nicknamed, debuted at the London 2012 Olympics. Paul’s got the details on how the iconic blue and pink look came about.
In our Seoul 1988 history moment, Jill looks at the taekwondo competition, one of the many demonstration sports on the Olympic program. As the national sport of South Korea, they were likely to dominate, but in the men’s competition, an American named Jimmy Kim prevented the sweep in a dramatic fashion. Here’s his final bout (check out the low-tech bracket in the background!):
In our visit to TKFLASTAN, we have news from:
- Sailors Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea
- Para archer Matt Stutzman
- Former artistic swimmer Jacqueline Simoneau
In Paris 2024 news, the International Olympic Committee says it will not formally invite Russia and Belarus to next year’s Games. Surely there are loopholes though. Also, the Organizing Committee’s budget is apparently in good shape, and there was a test event of the Opening Ceremonies parade on the Seine.
Next year France will host a replay of the 1924 Olympic regatta that will feature boats no longer on the Olympic program. You can find out more information about the May and June 2024 events here. No word on how difficult it will be to get the same results as the original competition.
And, surprise, surprise, France wants to host for the 2030 Winter Games. Alison has thoughts about another city competing against Stockholm.
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Photo courtesy of Paul Kamphuis.
Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the audio. Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.
Paul Kamphuis on Hockey Turf (Episode 296)
Jill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the games, we are the show for you. Each week we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co-host, Alison Brown.
Alison, hello, how are you?
Alison: I feel like I’m in training for our Paris trip because it is so hot today and sticky and muggy, and I’m thinking, okay, I’m gonna have to do this carrying the 20 pound backpack with all our equipment and things and running through the metro. And I do not wanna scare the Parisians.
So I really start, I am gonna need a full year of a training plan. For this because Parisians, they always look so elegant and chic even under every circumstances. And here’s gonna be me like the short, sloppy American, like, so I’ve gotta work on that.
Jill: Me and you both sister, cuz I will be the short, sloppy, sweaty American that will suddenly look down and go, how did I spill something on my shirt I haven’t even eaten today.
That’s gonna be me.
Alison: So no more Quas for me.
Jill: So sad. But we will get into fight in shape for next year. It’s almost one year to go, huh? It’s gonna be exciting. Something else to celebrate. Happy Belated Turf Day.
Alison: We did not even know this was a thing. We have learned so much in the past 24 [00:02:00] hours.
Jill: I know
we love a good sports related holiday and turf day celebrates the first time hockey turf. Or field hockey if you’re in America, made its international debut, which was at Montreal 1976. To celebrate, we talked with Paul Kamphuis, general manager of Polytan Asia Pacific. Polytan has done the turf for eight Olympics, including Paris 2024.
So we talked with Paul about how turf is constructed and what to look for at Paris 2024. Take a listen.
Paul Kamphuis Interview
Jill: Paul Kamphuis, thank you so much for joining us today to talk hockey turf. I’m very, very excited. First off, your general manager at Polytan, what does that entail?
Paul Kamphuis: Firstly, thanks for having me on. So I’m general manager for Polytan for the Asia Pacific region. So I look after our projects for major sports fields within the Asia Pacific region, which includes sports, like field hockey, athletics, and we do football surfaces as well.
We’re also part of a broader global group that’s called Sport Group and my colleagues in the us at AstroTurf a brand name that many people will know and is synonymous with artificial turf in general. And so within my role within the sport group family, I’m head of hockey globally as well.
Jill: So hockey turf. it used to be played on grass. How did we get from grass to turf and why?
Paul Kamphuis: So, it’s an interesting story. So the first time that hockey turf, as we call it, which is artificial turf, used for hockey, was used for a major tournament, was that 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.
And so we’ve actually just had our first hockey turf day, 18th of July, 1976 was the first time that hockey was played on artificial turf for a major tournament. And so we’ve declared this hockey turf day. So the reason it was used was the event organizers were concerned that the Montreal climate, which is a wet [00:04:00] and rainy climate, was gonna make it difficult to keep good natural grass pitches for the full duration of the Olympics.
So to combat that concern, they used artificial turf or synthetic grass for the hockey pitchers and that was the first time it had been used at a major tournament. What happened during that tournament was that the hockey standard was exceptionally good. Players went with reservations cuz they hadn’t, most of them had not seen an artificial turf surface before.
It was flat. It was fast and the hockey that they played was very good. And from there it didn’t explode overnight, but it started to become more and more prevalent. But every Olympic game since 1976 has been played on artificial turf and now it’s the accepted standard and has been for 30 plus years. Probably longer in terms of the surface that you play elite hockey on.
And it’s permeated down from there right through to grassroots hockey as well.
Jill: And Polytan has done eight Olympic games all the way back to 1996 or were there some that you didn’t do?
Paul Kamphuis: So between Polytan and AstroTurf, we’ve done every Olympic games except two. So the only two we haven’t done was the LA Games in 1984, really?
And Athens in 2004. And me personally, I’ve looked after each of them since Beijing in 2008.
Jill: what are some of the changes in place? You said fast, but , for hockey, what does that mean?
Paul Kamphuis: So, in the traditional natural grass game, it was very much a game where the game was played with the stick upright.
And so, and the reason for that was the grass surface was uneven. So from the sideline it looks really flat, but natural tur is never perfectly flat. And so the ball would bubble around and that would make it difficult to trap so you would keep your stick upright. Because one of the rules of hockey is if the ball hits your foot, it’s a free hit to the other team.
So you need to try and keep your feet outta the way of the ball. And so the technique was to use your stick upright and to try and to stop and trap. It’s called trap the ball when you receive a pass in that fashion [00:06:00] because the pitch now is with the change, transition to artificial turf because the pitches are now flatter and a lot truer.
You don’t have to trap the ball that way anymore. You can, but what’s happened is that a lot of the time the players now will hold the stick at 90 degree angle to that and they can put the stick almost flat on the surface and receive the ball cuz they know that it’s going to, if it’s rolling on the surface, it’s going to continue to roll on the surface so they can trap it with confidence and you can also pass the ball with a lot more confidence that the person who’s receiving it, cuz you know that they’ll be able to trap it.
You can hit the ball harder. And because you hit the ball harder, the game gets faster.
Jill: What is the 3D effect that we’re talking about with today?
Paul Kamphuis: Yeah. Yeah. So one of the most exciting developments that’s happened within the sport of hockey is there’s been an explosion now in 3D skills.
So aerial passing, and that you’ll see in a field hockey game, you’ll see the elite players can throw a pass overhead, 60 meters down the length of the field to a player who can receive it at the other end of the field, drop it at their feet, and have a shot at gold straightaway, or pick it up and pass it to someone else.
So that’s at the, the very extreme end of the aerial skills. But the other thing as well is being able to j the ball around and use. 3D elevation to beat your opponent and to get around them. So the players, instead of just keeping the ball on the stick and dribbling it, the stick and the surface and dribbling it around, they’ll pick the ball up off the surface and they’ll flip it over.
The other player’s stick or they’ll pick it up and they’ll actually tap it on their stick and run along with it. And then bring the ball down or pass it through the air and things like that. So the skills that they’ve got nowadays are just incredible the way that they can control the ball on the ground and in the air.
Jill: Does it change the equipment as well?
Paul Kamphuis: That, yeah, so that’s a good question. So one of the things that has happened is that[00:08:00] there’s all of these things that have evolved. So if we said 47 years ago was the start of hockey turf that. The surface has evolved clearly over that time and during that same time, the equipment has changed as well.
So initially the balls were leather and it was a cricket ball basically. And now it’s a composite ball which looks like a big golf ball, so it has dimple in the surface of it so that it runs true on the surface. And the sticks were originally wooden and now they’re carbon fiber. And the sticks now are much stiffer.
And because the sticks are so stiff, that means the players can do things like the 3D skills and drag flick shots at goal and a lot of the passes and things that they do where the ball travels so quickly.
Jill: Okay. So what is the turf made of?
Paul Kamphuis: So the turf nowadays is made from polyethylene, the original surface and some surfaces that we still use with AstroTurf for nylon.
But the fibers we use in the Olympics at the moment and have done for the last. Since 2000 are made from polyethylene. So initially that polyethylene was just sourced from petrochemicals, but we’ve put a big push over the, from in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics, and we’ve carried that through for Paris as well.
We actually make that from sugarcane, so it’s a bio-based plastic. Now
Jill: we’re kinda get into chemicals, not my strong suit, but the chemical properties of polyethylene made from fossil fuels, polyethylene made from sugar cane, how is that different or, I mean, that’s a lot of r d
Paul Kamphuis: there’s a lot of r d. Yeah. And so. Let’s not go too deep into the chemistry of it, because Thank you.
I don’t wanna say things and get, and make myself look silly. I might put at one as well. But basically what happens is the sugar cane’s pressed and it’s used, first of all for human consumption to make sugar and things, and then it’s pressed again and it’s, and that’s used for things [00:10:00] like bioethanol fuel.
And then it’s only on the third or the fourth press that the material that comes out of that is then reacted with some natural occurring enzymes, and that creates ethylene. And then the ethylene is sort of then activated to form the polyethylene, the longer chains. And at that point in time, it’s pretty much the same.
I mean, polyethylene is polyethylene and it’s just that we are using raw, natural materials to get to that starting point instead of yeah, petrochemicals.
Alison: Does the turf have a smell?
Paul Kamphuis: No. No. It doesn’t smell like sugar. It doesn’t smell sweet. Yeah. Does it smell like anything? Doesn’t smell like anything.
Jill: How much sugar does it take?
Paul Kamphuis: I’ve tried to quantify that, and it’s really difficult because the sugar cane’s used for so many things beforehand. Mm-hmm. And we’re using basically the residual sugar cane to process it, to make the plastic.
It’s very difficult. Well, I’ve been told that you can’t really quantify it, but they have been able to sort of talk about numbers of, well, because we’re doing that, obviously it’s, it has a massive benefit in terms of CO2 consumption because , we’re, we’re taking a natural material and we’re extracting the polyethylene from that using natural processes instead of pumping oil outta the ground and turning that Into a plastic.
So from that point of view, they talk about like 60 plus tons of CO2 saved per pitch that we install.
Jill: Does it matter where the sugar king comes from?
Paul Kamphuis: It does. I would love it to be able to come from anywhere, but we partner with a company called Braskem that are based in Brazil. And the reason we partner with them is because they’re the ones that invested the r and d in developing this process.
And so there’s some pretty sophisticated machinery and, and factories that are set up to be able to do this. And you can’t really transport that all around the world. But Australia, for instance, where I’m from we have a large sugar cane industry here as well. And I’d love to see something like that transported over here so that we could see the same technology in use.
Jill: Please tell me you’ve been on a factory tour.
Paul Kamphuis: I [00:12:00] haven’t, I’ve been to Brazil, it was four years out. I spent a lot of time in Brazil, obviously with the Rio Olympics. And I would’ve loved to have done a factory tour, but we didn’t have this technology available at that time for Rio. And so by the time that came in, my trips to Brazil were done.
] and we worked on it for the Tokyo games instead.
Jill: Oh, man. Okay. So the turf actually mimics grass. Correct? ] ] it’s like little blades of Yeah. The plastic. Yeah. Okay.
Paul Kamphuis: So we call those filaments. Yes. Okay. And there’s millions and millions of them in each field.
Jill: And that’s just the top layer.
I understand the whole pitch is multiple layers that do multiple tasks. Correct. So can you break that down for us?
Paul Kamphuis: Yep. so the turf itself It’s about 11 millimeters, let’s say roughly half an inch in height. And it’s extremely flat and it’s very dense. We put a lot of the individual filaments in there, so we toughed all the fibers in really tightly together, jam pack them in so that ] there’s very little space in between them.
And the reason for that, and we’ll get onto this maybe in a while, but the pitches at the elite level currently are irrigated, and we try and pack those fibers together really closely to make sure that the water sits in amongst those fibers and stays there for as long as possible. And it also makes the ball sit right up in an optimum space on the top of the fiber ] where it sits within the surface to get the truest speed and also direction as it travels across the pit surface.
But that in itself isn’t enough. If you were to put that down straight over asphalt or concrete, it would be very bouncy and it would be really jarring for the athletes. So underneath that, we also include what we call a shock pad layer. Which is a compressible layer to then add other properties to the surface.
So it helps to deaden the ball bounce and it helps to provide energy return for the athletes and make sure that the surface is not too hard and jarring underfoot.
Jill: And then under that, is that also part of what Polytan does with the Yeah. [00:14:00] Irrigation cell and base and sub base? I mean, this is pretty, it is involved. I was impressed at how involved building ] a hockey pitch is.
Paul Kamphuis: Yeah. So a lot of the time when people ask about what’s involved in the construction of the field ] I tell people to imagine a massive rectangular car park.
And so if you were to build a big car park, you would put an asphalt surface down on it. You would include drainage to make sure that if you get heavy rainfall, that the water can get away. You would put concrete curbing in around the outside of it just to have an edge around, the outside of your car park.
The only thing that’s different is that we don’t paint lines on there in parking spaces. We put a synthetic hockey pitch on it. So in general terms, they’re the same. But the one big difference is the precision and the control that we have to put into that construction work. So if you have a car park that’s a little uneven and you’re driving it in your car, The shock absorbtion system in your car will take that out. And even if you bounce around a little bit, it doesn’t really matter. But if we were to have that kind of imperfection as we would probably consider it in the levels on the pitch surface, then the hockey ball will roll unevenly across the surface.
It could be unsafe for the players. And so we build these things so that they’re extremely precise in terms of how flat they are. So it’s basically a 6,000 square meter billiard table.
Alison: what is the point of the water?
Paul Kamphuis: So the point of the water is actually to make the ball travel across the surface flat and fast. So there’s a, a misconception that the reason the pitchers are watered is to make them less abrasive for the players.
And it certainly does that, but that’s almost a byproduct and not the main reason. And the reason we water the pitches came about by accident. So this, I mentioned before that the Olympic Games in 1976, they were concerned about a rainy climate in Montreal was gonna make it difficult to maintain good natural grass.
That rainy climate delivered rain for at least some of the matches. And so when the pitch was wet, [00:16:00] it played much faster and the ball movement across the surface was really slick. And I can only imagine that over the next, sort of five years or so the turf surfaces that were installed. This was noticed from time to time when you played hockey.
I was like, geez, geez. No, it’s so much better when it rains. It’s so much better when it rains. And then somebody said, it’s so much better when it rains. Why don’t we just irrigate the pitch? So it’s like that all the time. And so irrigating the pitches became the standard and as I said, we water them so that the ball travels across the surface flat and fast.
So if the surface is dry, it tends to bounce. But when the surface is wet, it skims across the surface is pretty much just like if you were to skim a stone on a lake. So it travels really flat really quickly. And then as we were discussing before, that’s changed the way the players can receive the ball and the confidence they have in hitting the ball quickly, in their passing to their teammates.
Alison: So what’s involved in keeping the optimum level of water on the pitch during the tournaments?
Paul Kamphuis: Yeah, so we have irrigation cannons around the fields that apply the water. And how much water’s needed has come down dramatically over my time in the industry. And when I say dramatically though, we’re talking, when I first started, it was mandated by the Hockey Federation that you had to put three millimeters of water across the whole pitch, which was roughly 18,000 liters of water.
And the surfaces that we’ve got now, we use as little as one millimeter of water. So we’ve reduced that by a third. So that’s in the pure irrigation process. But the other thing we’ve done is the systems now retain the water a lot better, so you don’t have to repeat water during the day as often as you used to.
And so the Paris Olympics will be better than the Tokyo Olympics, which was significantly better than the Rio Olympics, et cetera, et cetera. I have some [00:18:00] really accurate numbers from the irrigation we used. For the Tokyo Olympic Games in what was a really, really hot and difficult climate and we used 30%, roughly 30% less water than we used in Rio for the pitch watering.
And that’s in part because of the technology we’ve included into the system. It’s in part because of the technology we’ve developed in the irrigation systems. And it’s in part because of the education process with the people that run the events to make sure that they understand when they should put water on and when the surface is dam enough that you don’t need to re irrigate it.
Jill: When should you put water on?
Paul Kamphuis: You should put water on the surface before you play in the morning when it’s dry and then after that, it really just depends on the climatic conditions. You shouldn’t put water on the pitch when you look at a radar and you see that it’s about to rain, cuz you’re gonna get natural irrigation anyway.
But the most difficult thing is Knowing what to do in hot and windy conditions because hot and windy conditions are when you get the greatest rate of evaporation. And so balancing that but what we’ve seen is that, as I said, we’ve reduced the water consumption significantly. And we had a really good team on the ground in Tokyo that really understood that.
And their efforts helped us to just, there was a lot of times when in the past the pitch would’ve been watered unnecessarily, and they said, we don’t need to water the pitch. We know there’s enough water in there. We know that it’s gonna stay there and the pitch will play fine.
Alison: So Foreign Olympics. How many people does poly tan have on the ground?
Paul Kamphuis: Depends. we have a lot of people on the ground in the lead up to the Olympics. Obviously when we’re building the venues during the games time itself, it’s pretty small. Like it could only be one or two people. And the reason for that is, Once the pictures are down, there’s very little can go wrong with them.
We get a lot of use on the pictures beforehand. So, if there was, and it’s not very likely, but if there was a small area where there was a seam that needed to be repaired or something like that, we would identify it beforehand. And so all we’re really doing is providing emergency [00:20:00] response in case something happened.
And to provide some maintenance support as well.
Jill: If you need to fix a scene, like do you have somebody come in and sew that up or if the, there’s like a hole that develops, somebody comes in and sews it up?
Paul Kamphuis: Yep, yep. Glue things down. I can remember in Rio there was a couple of small, little things like that we had to fix, but the strangest thing that ever happened that I’m aware of in a games was in Rio, there was a fire A forest fire that was nearby and there was a lot of ash that fell down on the pitch.
So it was, it sort of emergency grooming just to try and remove that from the surface. It wasn’t really affecting play. But obviously you broadcast in the Olympics around the world. you don’t want ash all over your bright blue hockey pitch.
Alison: Do you vacuum? How do you take that off?
Paul Kamphuis: Yeah. We have specialist maintenance equipment that has a vacuum and a sweeping room on it. Oh my
Alison: gosh. I think Jill just found another
Jill: job that she wants to tell. No, I did, I mean, I was hoping there would be like water cannon monitor. We have a thing when the games are on, we do daily coverage and one of our daily segments is what volunteer or officiating job would you want to do?
And I was really hoping there’s like watering, the hockey pitch would be in that category, but it might be combining the field. I don’t know. I will look and find out.
Paul Kamphuis: well you get this, drive a small tractor.
Alison: Oh my gosh, Paul. Okay. Wait, what is the tractor for?
Paul Kamphuis: That’s the grooming machine. Yeah,
Jill: it’s like the Zamboni.
Oh, this is just getting better and better. So is there like a water monitoring system that somebody just watches throughout the day to see how it’s doing?
Paul Kamphuis: Yep. So, obviously we keep records of how, when the pitch has been irrigated, and it’s not so much that there’s a sort of like a, an electronic measurement or something within the pit surface.
It’s easy to see within the fibers itself, how damp they are. And so a lot of it comes down to, as I said, the education process with the people that are there, pitch side, that are managing [00:22:00] the games.
Jill: Does the water get hot? So when players are playing, it gets hot, if it bounces up on them.
Paul Kamphuis: No. No. And so that’s an interesting thing is that during the Tokyo Olympics, which were recognized as the hottest games ever, we didn’t really have any heat stress issues with the hockey competition, even though there was matches that were played for sure in the hottest parts of the day.
From memory, there was matches that were played around a midday start time. And so that’s some pretty intense conditions. But without really realizing it, we were keeping the temperature at the playing venue pretty moderated. So even though the air temperature’s very hot, because we’ve irrigated the turf and the turf surface is cool it didn’t get to extremely hot temperatures.
Don’t get me wrong. It was not like we were in an air conditioned stadium. But it also wasn’t extremely hot because the surface had got much hotter than the air temperature itself. So there, whilst the water itself doesn’t get hot it keeps the surface temperature of the pitch. Cool.
Alison: What are the challenges for Paris?
Paul Kamphuis: The challenges for Paris, I must say, as a games, it’s remarkably well under control from our point of view. And the Tokyo Games before that were until Covid came and then the challenge was unprecedented. We start installation of the pitches in Paris next month and we’ll have them finished all going to plan.
We’ve got three pitches to install and they should be finished by October. The challenge will be if we can’t get them finished by October, we like to install the pitches when we’ve got warm dry weather, cuz it just makes the process a lot easier on site. If that timeframe gets extended and we start getting into the cooler months and into the winter, then it becomes more challenging.
It’s still doable, but it’s more challenging. So from my point of view, Paris has run. Very smoothly. So far we’re really pleased with how things have gone. It’s one of those things where you go, everything seems to be going too well, and you, you start to second guess yourself
Jill: and you have a fabulous stadium to work with.
I mean, the history alone is gonna be fantastic [00:24:00] for the, ah, the whole tournament.
Paul Kamphuis: Hockey’s so lucky, so lucky. So the only venue for, so it’s a hundred years in next year since they hosted the 1924 Olympic games, and the only venue that’s being reused is the Vester Manir Stadium, which was the original athletic stadium in 1924.
So when I explained to people what that means, I say it’s the cha, it’s a fire stadium. That’s the way you describe it to people. And when you go there and you stand there and you look at the, all of the steelwork and the main grandstand and everything, you just go, wow this this venue has so much history.
And it’s a tremendous privilege for hockey to be able to be based there as the only sport that’s in a venue that was used for the Olympic games 100 years before.
Alison: Please tell me you’ve done the running to the music, at least in your head in the stadium. Yes, definitely.
Jill: what is important about the quality of the water? does water from different places affect the turf in different ways? Like if you have a lot of salinity or other minerals, does that affect things?
Paul Kamphuis: Yeah, that’s a really good question. Yeah. So, the first thing you wanna do is you wanna try and make sure that if you’re irrigating the pitch, that the water’s clean enough that you would be prepared to drink it.
And the reason for that is if the players are sliding on the surface and things like that, you don’t want to be using some kind of dirty water that could then cause an infection risk if there was a cut or something like that. So that’s step one. But water quality varies throughout the world. So you have different minerals and things that are present within the water.
Then they can cause discoloration on the turf. So for instance, if you have a lot of iron in the water that can cause iron staining on the turf. So you can get sort of reddish brow marks on the turf surface, which become most evident on the white lines. And the other thing that you can get is if you have very hard water.
So if you’ve got a lot of lime scale type buildups that are in the water, calcium carbonate, when the pitch dries out, it can have a really white tinge to it on the fibers. So when it’s wet, you don’t notice that. It’s only when the pitch starts to dry out that you notice this, the whitening effect [00:26:00] from the chemicals that were in the water.
Jill: What kind of water does Paris have?
Paul Kamphuis: Paris has reasonable water. Breathable water. Yeah. So, I’m not sure to be honest about the total sort of hardness of the water. But certainly they don’t have any, we’ve got no concerns about the iron buildup or anything like that within the water. And my time’s in Paris, I’ve been prepared to drink the water from the tap and I haven’t got sick, so that’s the first tick.
Jill: I don’t think you would’ve said
Paul Kamphuis: that in Rio.
Yeah. There’s a couple other places I’ve been to where I wasn’t prepared to take that risk. Let’s just put it that way.
Jill: How long does it take to water the field?
Paul Kamphuis: Four minutes. Oh, wow. Yeah. So the less amount of water we put on, the less time we need to irrigate it.
Okay. We actually set it up so that it’s very rare that you have to, but occasionally you might want to water the pitch at halftime. And so halftime is only 10 minutes, so you have to design the irrigation system so you could complete a full cycle. In less than 10 minutes. So that would normally not, what we normally do is we say, well, a full cycle would be to run the system twice and that would be eight minutes.
Normally now we can do the whole light in just four minutes.
Jill: What’s the story behind the blue? The smurf blue turf,
Paul Kamphuis: the smurf turf? Yeah. So it’s one of those things that when hockey first, and I suppose all sports that used artificial turf. Artificial turf was designed as something to use instead of natural grass. so it was green. But like hockey’s a sport where initially, they used artificial turf to replace natural grass.
But then hockey as a sport got to the point where they said, artificial turf is so much better for our sport than natural grass. It’s our surface. So we’re no longer a natural grass feel sport. We’re a hockey turf sport. And at that point in time, the color of the pitch being green, so it looks like natural grass is redundant.
And hockey realized that around 2010. And so when we awarded the contract for the London [00:28:00] Olympics, we had conversations with the International Hockey Federation around the fact that they wanted to step out of u unveil the turf basically, and move away from green. And at that point in time, there was, in other sports, particularly tennis, you saw a move in the hard court tennis space where again, hard court tennis was played on green and there was no real reason for it because it’s paint on concrete or asphalt.
They were moving to blue. And one of the reasons the blue was used is it’s a really good contrast color for broadcast. We had conversations about using Blue for the hockey turf as well. We did that for the pill to play. We extended that even more audaciously through conversations with the London Olympic Games Organizing Committee around the fact that their event marketing colors were blue and pink.
And we said we could make pink fibers. What if we put pink fibers on the surrounds of the pit? So it’s a blue field of play and then it’s pink in the surrounds. And they said, we love that. That’s a the kind of bold statement we wanna make. And hockey was, the riverbank arena was the hockey venue for the London Olympics.
And that was on the Olympic Park. And if you saw any footage of the whole Olympic Park, I can remember I was at home. I watched the opening ceremony on TV and. They show the fireworks going down, sort of down to the stadium and there’s these bright blue, two bright blue hockey pitches with pink surrounds sitting there.
It was just such a stark visual thing and everyone called it the smurf turf cuz it was blue. And some people loved it and some people hated it. But either way they spoke about it and it gave hockey so much more publicity in Olympics. So in the Olympics it’s so, you know, as well as anyone, it’s so crammed to get media space and to get attention amongst all of that.
And this gave hockey a point of difference. They were the only venue that had the Olympic branding so the event branding as their colors on their field of play. And it, it stood out so vibrantly within the park that it caused a lot of interest. And the Hockey [00:30:00] Federation loved it so much that we’ve been using Blue for all the major events ever since and it’s now mandated that any Olympics or any World Cup must be played on blue.
Jill: I was gonna ask if you try to slide in a different color there at some point.
Paul Kamphuis: No, we haven’t. It’s blue. the blue’s good because it provides such a great contrast for broadcast and at night when you’re at one of the venues, they just, the colors just pop and it’s so vibrant and amazing.
It’s just, yeah, now when you see there’s people that are still traditionalists that love the green, but now if I look at a green venue and you see this the hockey that’s played there, it almost feels outta date. it’s not as bright and it’s not as engaging. And we’ve moved to that time where people want bright and they want engaging.
And so very much the young people particularly the younger generations, they really love it.
Alison: So in American football, there’s a lot of complaints about more injuries on turf. Is that happening on field hockey?
Paul Kamphuis: No. No, it’s not. it’s an interesting thing because mean, field hockey at the elite level has played 100% on hockey turf whereas American football, you have a mix.
Yeah. And I’m aware of that with other sports as well. Hockey’s a sport that has pretty low injury rates, I’ve gotta say. The surfers that we put down is strict standards that we have to install them to and they need to comply with. So all our systems have to get lab tested before we can be allowed to install them in the field.
And then when they’re installed in the field they’re tested by test institutes to make sure they comply so that the surfaces are. 100% engineered to suit hockey in terms of the playability, but also the player welfare. And so that’s one of the big things that we focus on with our r and d, is making sure that we look at how we can improve the game for athletes, not just in performance, but in terms of their safety.
And then we look at how we can innovate as well in terms of things like the sustainability using bio-based yarns. Our system for Paris is carbon neutral because of some other things that we’ve incorporated into the product, ways that we reduce water consumption, those kind of [00:32:00] things. So player welfare is always at the heart of all of that.
Alison: What does it feel like to fall on the turf? Is it more like a carpet? Is it more like grass?
Paul Kamphuis: if you fall on the turf, it’s more like carpet, but obviously if it’s irrigated even with a small amount of moisture, you slide on the surface with pretty much no, no risk of injury.
Alison: Because now I’m like, oh, I’m slipping and sliding on that turf. Don’t get me over to that stadium.
Paul Kamphuis: It’s not slippery to stand up on. Um, no, I meant on purpose. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a, yeah. Yeah, it’s, it, I mean a lot of the players will dive on the surface even at club level. I’ve got three boys and they play hockey as well, and my middle boy, he played last week weekend at the state hockey center in Melbourne.
and so that’s a major international venue and they’re lucky to get to be able to play there. And after the game he said, I love playing here, dad, cuz you can slide all over the surface and it’s, it just feels so much fun.
Jill: Anything else that’s different about the Paris turf that we should think about when we
Paul Kamphuis: watch? Yeah, so, something that we’re really proud of is the bio. So Tokyo gave us a chance to look at sustainability and to focus on that because, There was some strong ambitions from the Tokyo Organizing Committee around sustainability.
And so we included bio-based yarn in that as a first step point. Paris have taken that even further, and they’ve got some even more ambitious goals. And we’ve supersized the amount of bio-based content in the yarn now. So it’s more than 80% bio-based yarn. And we’ve used 100% green energy when we’ve produced it.
And we’ve done some other configuration changes within the system so that we’ve had it independently certified as being carbon neutral. we call it hockey zero. So we’ve got the first carbon neutral hockey turf. So what we’ve done is we’ve said, will those pitches that go into Paris.
There was no co net CO2 negative benefit at all. Like it’s completely carbon neutral. After the events, those pictures will be used for ongoing legacy for the sport. At some point in the future, when they wear out, we’ll [00:34:00] recycle them. So we are really trying to make sure there’s a lot of this focus now on sustainability and doing what’s right for the environment.
Jill: How long does a pitch
Paul Kamphuis: last? They will normally last around 10 years, depends on how much use they get. Club hockey pitches could last a lot longer, so the pitches that are used by elite team teams at their training venues might last a little less. That’s not necessarily because the issues with the pitch, that tends to become something around the way they manage their use of the field.
And they don’t have someone like yourself sitting on the, the special grooming tractor enough to keep it in the best condition.
Jill: I think we have a side hustle.
Alison: Can you enjoy watching as a
Paul Kamphuis: fan? Yes. Yeah, I consider myself the luckiest fan because I have a tremendous respect for what the players can do, and I have a in-depth understanding of what goes into making the surface so the players can, what they can do, what they do, and the players don’t realize all of that.
So I get the best of both worlds. I, I know how much effort’s gone into making the surface what it is, and then I watch the players do what they’re doing without even thinking about it can go, that is amazing. That’s a, just a pure combination of a lot of different people doing different things.
And if that athlete is spectacular and there’s things that went into helping them do that, that they don’t even realize,
Alison: this is just for me and an argument that Jill and I have had. Which is wetter, damp, or moist?
Paul Kamphuis: That’s a good question. Yeah. I guess it’s, they’re not necessarily words that get used in the same context, do they like you, you don’t. Well, how would
Alison: you describe a pitch? Is it damp or is it moist?
Paul Kamphuis: I would describe a pitch probably as damp. And the reason I say that is moist is a term I probably associate with food and things like that.
Like you never say, oh, this pudding’s too damp. You say the pudding’s too moist, don’t you? So,
Jill: until now, [00:36:00] Paul, until
Paul Kamphuis: now. Until now. So, I try and keep my hockey pitches in my food thoughts completely separate.
Alison: Well it is made of sugar cane, so that’s
Paul Kamphuis: it. Yeah, I think we
Alison: have mixed those two
Paul Kamphuis: areas and I’ve gotta say, and the other side of that, now I think about it cuz I like thinking about offbeat things, sort of tangent stuff like that is if you’ve got mold growing in your bathroom, you don’t say, geez, my bathroom’s moist.
Do you, you say My bathroom’s damp and I’ve got mold, so I’m sticking with that. Okay. I’m saying damp. Okay.
Jill: Does a turf get moldy? Is that a danger?
Paul Kamphuis: It can be. Yeah. So algae can grow in the turf. Particularly the pitches that are irrigated and particularly in really cool climates. And you always, it’s an interesting thing, algae’s, a funny thing you notice at first in the white lines.
And rather than the rest of the pitch. And the reason for that is even though it’s only a subtle temperature difference, the white lines will reflect more light and more heat. So they, they get, they reflect more light, so they don’t warm up quite as much as the turf either side of it. And that doesn’t matter what the color is.
It could be blue, it could be green, it could be something else. So it starts in the white lines and then it propagates out from there. And you normally see it first on the outside of the field. So you’ll see it in the white lines around the perimeter. So the gold lines and the sidelines, you won’t see it in the center lines.
And that’s because the edges of the field are always damp or moist for longer because the fields will be built with some crown across them. And so the water will run out to the side of the field. So the outside of the field will be wetter for longer. And because it’s wetter for longer, that’s a better environment for Alvi to grow.
Jill: How do you clean the algae out?
Paul Kamphuis: you can apply an Alger side to it and then you drive the pitch out and we get that magic tractor that you’re gonna drive for us, and we go out there and we vacuum it and we pull that out.
Or you can, there’s other machines that you can use that you, you pressure wash it and you basically flush that out and then you, you’re stuck up the dirty water that comes out of the surface. So you use a [00:38:00] car,
Alison: a carpet shampooer
Paul Kamphuis: Pretty much, but a very big, big scale version.
Paul Kamphuis: It’s one of those things, a hockey pitch is a big area like sports fields are.
And so when you’ve got something like that’s you imagine like just how dirty the carpet in your house gets and how you have to vacuum it and keep it clean. You put that outside with no roof over it and all of the things that can just fall out of the sky and all the things that can get on the pitch from the, just the general use of it and all the things that can blow on from the sides.
If people are mowing lawns and there’s grass clippings or there’s leaves and things like that, it’s a dirty environment. So, so keeping that pitch clean is not something that just happens automatically. You’ve gotta put some effort into it. So
Jill: hockey not a sport for a germaphobe if they tend to fall over not a sport for a klutzy germaphobe who might fall over a lot.
Jill: I’m not calling you out, Allison, I’m not calling you out. I am not a
Alison: germaphobe. I am a class that’s good, but I am not a germophobe.
Jill: Well Paul, thank you so much for joining us for Surface Chat. I’m so excited to watch for Paris now and we will be looking for the Polytan Blue.
Paul Kamphuis: Thank you.
And I hope to see your pitch side helping us out with the irrigation.
Jill: Well, we will. Hey, we’re accredited. So that accreditation might get me a little farther than you want.
Paul Kamphuis: There’s a tractor there with your name on it, just waiting for you to drive it. To help keep the pitch. Yes,
Thank you so much Paul. You can follow Paul on LinkedIn and we will have a link to that in our show notes. You can also find email@example.com and poly grass.com. We will have links to those. We will also have a link to a documentary that Polytan produced that covers the history of turf, so you can celebrate world Turf day too.
Seoul 1988 History Moment
Jill: That sound means it is time for our history moment all year long. We are celebrating Seoul 1988 as it is the 35th [00:40:00] anniversary of those games. It is my turn for story and I thought I would go into.
The era of demonstration sports, cuz we haven’t talked about demonstration sports yet from Tokyo. Excellent. So, today we will be talking TaeKwonDo.
demonstration sports, that concept does not exist anymore. It turned into the host city gets to select a few sports, and those are actual medal sports, but demonstration sports were sports that the hosts wanted to see in the games, but they were not officially in the Olympics yet.
There’s still controversy over whether or not those. Medals are Olympic medals. they’re not counted as Olympic medals right now. And it’s kind of interesting to see people who, a athletes who have won them will say, I’m an Olympic gold medalist. And if you go to like the historians, they go, no, you’re not really.
it’s not without controversy, but When you had a demonstration sport, it was not guaranteed it would get into the Olympics. Some got on, some didn’t. TaeKwonDo was one of the sports that sold 1988, put forward on its program. It is Korea’s national Sport. So that was kind of an obvious one that they would choose.
Not everyone was thrilled. That it was on the program because it was one of five demonstration sports from Seoul, 1988, and they also included two wheelchair races in athletics. I
Alison: know there was a lot of demonstrating going on in Korea.
Jill: this was also happened to come at a time when the, I Ooc was thinking about taking some sports off the program and I found a lovely quote in the New York Times from our Shukla dick pound saying quote, God, God knows the games are big enough as they are.
Said Richard Pound candida, a vice President of the International Olympic Committee. It may be time to say, it may be time to say enough is enough. We might have to think of getting rid of some sports.
Alison: Oh Dick Pound. This is why we love you telling it like it is [00:42:00] going rogue.
Jill: Right? And the the amazing thing is they haven’t gotten rid of any sports.
Alison: No. They’ve just made it bigger and bigger.
Jill: But, for this game’s, TaeKwonDo wanted to put on a good show. The tournament was a single elimination tournament. It featured eight weight classes each for men and women. So there was parody from the beginning, from this 182 participants across 35 national.
National Olympic Committees, which is pretty good, I would think, due to the fact that this is really something out of Korea. But it kind of has gotten all over the world that really kind of exploded in the US at the time.
Even so, you had to wonder whether South Korea would dominate on the women’s side. Not so much. It was surprising they, the Koreans did get on the podium in seven out of eight weight classes, but they only earned two gold medals on the men’s side. However, the South Koreans took seven out of eight gold medals getting a silver in the heavyweight dis division.
Well, who disrupted the Korean domination? Enter one. Jimmy Kim. Jimmy Kim was born in Malaysia, took up the sport at age two, but when your father is a grand master in TaeKwonDo, this is not surprising. So his father was born in Korea, moved around the world a little bit on that side of the world, and then moved the family to the US when Jimmy was about four years old and they settled in California.
He kept coaching Jimmy, teaching him everything Korean children were learning since he grew up in the Korean system. So Jimmy got good quickly and was competing internationally by age seven. He won many big tournaments, including the 1985 World Games, which is only the second World games ever. What weight class
Alison: are you in at seven?
Like the negative five pounds? What, who is he
Jill: competing against? The toddler weights? I don’t know.[00:44:00]
He also won the PanAm games in 1987, though at the 1987 world champs, he took silver so, Little less pressure on him there cuz he didn’t go into Seoul as the heavy tournament. Favorite. And not just saying heavy cuz he is a heavyweight. So ahead of the games. Jimmy Kim took a year and a half off to train full-time.
He spent six months of that at the Olympic Training Center by Seoul. He was 21 years old, 6 3 210 pounds.
Alison: So maybe at seven he was in the, flyweight weight class. That’s a,
Jill: is a big kid, right? Surprisingly quick and very late on his feet. His coaches were all really amazed by that. US team had a different coach, but Jimmy Kim’s dad was still going to be at the tournament as a referee.
Alison: Oh dear. Please don’t tell me there’s a bad story about the No,
Jill: no, there’s no bad story. Nothing, nothing related there. I’m, I would be so surprised if Grandmaster Kim had been. Selected to referee, even the men’s tournament. Maybe he did a different division, but he definitely would not have done heavy weight.
Alison: boxing Ps, ptsd, I
Jill: think from Right. All, all the bad, judging everything on, on the up and up here. Oh, you know, and TaeKwonDo is a very honorable sport. The honor is very important here, so nobody’s gonna mess that up. So, Jimmy was focused on his goal. For this tournament, he was wanted to get back on top after losing the world champs.
And he got to Seoul 10 days before competition, put in six hour training days at a Korean Army base. Though he did take a break to go to the opening ceremonies. He even apparently got on tv, which is kind of cool.
after opening ceremonies, he got us focused right back. He had to. Because his competition was only one day long, and if he could go the distance, he had to get through four bouts. So that’s every [00:46:00] bout was three, three minute rounds at the time. So every game, every bout was nine minutes long, very intense.
And unfortunately for Jimmy, it was going to be a bigger struggle because four days ahead of the competition, he got the flu. On the day of competition, he woke up with a 102 degree fever.
Alison: So in my freshman year of college, I had to take a final with the flu. Mm-hmm. And I had a fever at that fi, and let me tell you something, I couldn’t even sit and focus for the two hours of the final. So I cannot imagine the physical stress that he was
Jill: under for that. Well, very true. He was getting exhausted and then in his first bout, he broke a toe.
this is a sport where one of the main moves is kicking your opponent. So a broken toe is a big problem here. So he struggles through a second bout, he wins it, but he’s exhausted. He’s in a lot of pain. He wants to quit. Just say, I’m done with this tournament. Then he had a talk with Grandmaster dad.
Oh yeah, you ain’t quitting Jimmy. Dad reminded him of how long he trained to get to that point and asked him if he was willing to give all of that up. And this was not the first pep talk from pops in Jimmy’s career when Jimmy was 15, he broke an ankle during a tournament. Dad made him stick it out to embody the TaeKwonDo indomitable spirit of never giving up.
So Jimmy finished that bout on one leg. Karate Kid Style
Grandmaster Kim. Sounds really scary. He’s probably also gentle in the right conditions, but I would imagine he’s tough, While his dad’s giving him his this pep talk, he thought about all of that. He had gone through to get there. He was inspired to get back on the mat. He beat Jose Louise Alvarez from Spain to get into the [00:48:00] finals and then won over South Korea’s, Jon Kim on points to take home the gold
Alison: being, I think he doesn’t even remember the medal ceremony. He was in so much pain and feverish. You
Jill: did have probably need to look at the pictures later. I did have a story from a local newspaper that said he was exhausted and he was, he basically said, I’m glad this is over, so after the games, he became a chiropractor and opened up his own TaeKwonDo center, which produced 2008 Olympian, Charlotte, Craig. that is another great legacy of Jimmy Kim’s time in the Olympics. But I also wanted to tell this story because last month, on June 23, Kim died of a rare autoimmune disease at the age of 56.
Alison: Welcome to Stan.
Jill: It is the time of the show where we check in with our team, keep the flame alive. This, these are our past guests who make up our citizenship of our very own country. Stan, along with our listeners who are also Shuksan citizens. First up we have some results. Sailors, Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea.
Finished fourth at the Paris 2024 test event in Marsai. Just two points off the podium.
Alison: Matt Stutzman was named Compound Men Open Archer of the Year by World Archery America. He is currently competing in the para archery world.
Jill: Champs and Jacqueline Simoneau has been named to the Canada Olympic Committee Mission Team for Santiago 23, the Pan-American Games.
That was really exciting to see.
Alison: She’s very excited. She posted about it as well.
Paris 2024 News
Alison: So we got an invitation to Paris 2024, but you know who didn’t?
Jill: Russian, Belarus.
Alison: Yes. The i o C will not be formally inviting Russia and [00:50:00] Belarus to their party.
Jill: I don’t even know what to say because, In a way it’s final And, by invitation, with about a year to go, the International Olympic Committee sends out formal invitations to the National Olympic Committees, inviting them to the games.
And so, they are not gonna send one to Russian Belarus. This is, uh, but
Alison: this is not the end of the story because they could still figure out a way for Russian and Beru athletes to compete as neutrals.
Jill: We know how that’s gone before. Yeah. we shall see how that works out. I’m very curious as to whether any of them will get in.
different sports have different pathways for inclusion. Some have said no. Some are allowing athletes to participate, but who knows that they’ll be able to qualify teams or even individuals. So we will see how that works out. There was
Alison: a story about the modern pentathlon federation saying we’re not going to exclude Russian or Beru athletes from any of our qualifying events, except if they’ve been in the military.
And so many modern pent athletes are in the military. I think we’re gonna see a lot of these sort of, Loophole, backhanded ways of excluding the Russians without excluding the Russians,
Jill: right? It’s almost like everybody wants to be on the right side of history, and we don’t know what the right side of history is right now.
I mean, we can guess what the right side of history will be, but just in case they want to keep their options open. Paris 2024 had a press conference and says it’s 4.5 billion operating budget is under control and it has over 1.1 billion in secured sponsor revenue plans to have 92% of its total operating budget by the end of the year.
that’s looking good and hopeful in terms of keeping these games under control. Don’t know how well that’s gonna pan out. It’s all
Alison: under control. This is like [00:52:00] what I say to you. When we’re having planning meetings, you want to believe that it’s true, but a part of you, in the back of your mind and your heart of hearts is saying, I don’t think it’s really under
Jill: control, but I believe you more than I believe organizing committee at this point.
one thing that’s really helping is that ticket sales have been robust. And speaking of ticket sales, there is a rumor. That there was an Instagram spoiler about a ticket drop happening on July 27th at 10:00 AM Paris time. This may have been a mistake post, this may be nothing at all, and somebody just posted without meaning to and was doing a test, but know that that could happen.
We don’t know anything else about it though. And speaking
Alison: of tests,
Jill: Okay this annoyed me so much. So there was a test event for the Opening Ceremony parade, and they had
Alison: to see if it would work if all these boats, I guess could be at on the river at the same time and if the amount of people would work.
But they’ve already announced that the Parade of Nations will be on the scent, but they didn’t know if they could make it work logistically.
Jill: Yes. I thought that exactly the same thing. Reuters was one of the ones who reported this, and it was just like, wait a second. You came up with this idea and did not have proof of concept?
Well, they do
Alison: now. They said it was gonna work so good thing on them. Otherwise we would’ve had, that budget would’ve
Jill: blown out of the water. Well, and I would’ve accepted, we know this will work because they did it in sold 1988 at the beginning of the opening ceremonies.
Alison: But not with the athletes.
That was just with the 500 dancing daisies.
Jill: this is going to be interesting, next year from May 17 through 20th in Rod Delau, in Port Louis and Lian, there will be a replay of the 1924 regatta. So they’re going to feature dinghies that no longer exist in [00:54:00] competition in this event, and then there’s going to be another. Sailing event on June 14th through 16 on the SEN in Lero.
And that will be another type of Olympic dinghies that were competed on in 1924. And there were will be activities for the public who will have a link to that story in the show notes. I’m curious to see how many references to 1924 come up A lot.
Alison: I mean, come on, it’s hundredth anniversary. You’re 24 to 24. Ians are not stupid. They know a good anniversary connection when they see, when, I mean, just think about some of the graphics that they’re using and some of the iconography. It’s hearkening back to that 1920s Parisian look. Maybe I’ll dress like a 1920s Parisian boy.
I can wear a corset in big fat
Jill: shoes and nylons in the heat. Really? Well, I’m trying to look chic.
Alison: I’m trying to not look like an uncoordinated American.
Jill: Oh boy. I, we can’t, we could pull that off for maybe a couple hours. I’m not sure. We could pull it off for 17 days and then another 12 to 14.
Alison: Coco Chanel Eat your Heart out.
Jill: Right, right.
Winter 2030 News
Jill: Another French revelation is that apparently they would like to bid for 2030 Winter Olympics. And this is a an b c report and it cites an official French announcement that we’ll have a link in the show notes too. They wanna put the games in the Alps in the Verne Ron Alps and Provance Alps coat Zu regions. They would use some existing infrastructure from Albertville in 1992, and they plan to submit an application to French officials in September.
All of a sudden
Alison: now, yet again, people are trying to take it away from Stockholm. How dare
Jill: they? and you know, it’s interesting [00:56:00] because there’s a lot of places that are like, we had so much fun hosting the games, let’s do it again. But they’re getting that bug now with a year to go. So we’ll see.
I’m sure that the IOC is. Thrilled that more people want to host 2030,
Alison: But let’s remember Stockholm deserves it. I’m gonna be so mad. If it’s not, I’m gonna be so mad. I’m gonna have to quit the show.
Jill: You cannot quit this show. You can write a strongly worded letter to the I O C.
They will get back to you because they always respond to their correspondence. Swedes,
Alison: I am here for you.
Jill: All right, well, well that will do it for this week. Let us know what you thought of Surface Talk.
Alison: You can connect with us on Twitter and Instagram. Our handle is at Flame Alive Pod. Email us at flame Alive pod gmail.com. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Flame it and be sure to join the Keep the Flame Alive Podcast Group on Facebook.
And finally, don’t forget to get our weekly newsletter filled with other fun stories about this week’s episode. You can sign up for firstname.lastname@example.org
Jill: Oh, we’d like to give a special thank you to our intern slash mascot Annalee Deabel, for doing research for this episode. Uh, join us again next week. It will be a. Officially one year to go till Paris 2024. So we will have our good friend, Ken Hanscomb back on to talk about travel and logistics and what to expect from the games.
Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive.