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  • by Karen Cummings

An Organized Catalyst

"I always wanted to be a camp counselor with a whistle and a stopwatch," said Paul Lodi of Jackson, proprietor of his own company, Catalyst, and recent appointee to the post of executive director of the Junior World Alpine Championships to be held February 26th to March 4th at Sugarloaf in Maine. Open to the top 15- to 16-year-olds in the world, this world class event will field 140 competitors representing 20 to 30 countries.

Paul already has his stopwatch in hand, organizing all the various factors and counting down to the actual start of the slalom, giant slalom, and downhill races. "There are so many variables to putting on this type of event," said Paul. "It is just a matter of looking at what has to be done, and then doing it."

Organizing and scheduling events -- "scripting" as he calls it -- is Paul Lodi's business and he applies it to almost everything from staging his wedding or his son Charlie's first birthday party to scheduling a nationally televised professional football game.

Though he applies his organizational talents to any affair, Paul's skiing background -- he was one of the youngest certified instructors at Wildcat -- and experience in the world of ski racing -- he filmed races for ABC and NBC -- makes scheduling and directing ski races a perfect synthesis of his talents, His first job in the world of international skiing was with Bob Beattie and the World Pro Tour.

"We had worked together many years before," related Paul, "but in 1979, he asked me to come aboard as his tournament director to take care of sponsors, scheduling, and the media."

Traveling to Europe and throughout North America for four years with the tour, Paul has also received invaluable experience running such events as the John Denver Celebrity Pro/Am, Eastern Cup Races, the NorAm Series, and the World Cup. "I've done in excess of 14,000 professional racer starts," he said, "and been tournament director for tournaments adding up to over a million and a half in prize money. I've worked for every major network in ski racing, once even broadcasting a pro ski race live, and everything went according to schedule."

In spite of all his experience, Paul is still excited about his association with the Junior World Alpine Championships. "It will be the first time this event has been held in the United States," he said. "I think it reflects our country's increased status in international skiing."

Working together with his wife, Edie, his invaluable administrative aid, Paul is already coordinating efforts to predictably stage what he refers to as a "mini-Olympics."

"This is the first rung after national competitions for racers on their way to the Olympics," Paul explained. "There will be hundreds of personnel involved in it including the skiers, physicians, trainers, and coaches."

The competition is bound by all the rules of the International Olympic Committee and working directly with the U.S. Olympic Committee is proving very gratifying for Paul. He also has to deal with the United States Ski Team (USST), the United States Ski Association (USSA), the Sugarloaf Mountain Corporation and Ski Club, and the Federation of International Skiing (FIS).

Arranging for the lodging, food service, and parades, as well as attempting, together with the state of Maine, to give the international competitors a little "taste of New England," also falls under Paul's jurisdiction. His job includes keeping tabs on the technical side of the event -- checking the competition site, complying with regulations set by the IOC, assuring quick emergency evacuation, and providing quick and accurate results.

The Lodis have recently ordered an IBM computer to aid in the recording, organizing, and scheduling required by an event of this magnitude. "It should help us to run an event even better," said Paul. Though he still projects using the organizational system he has successfully developed over the years, he is waiting anxiously for the computer's arrival.

"As I learn more and more about events," he explained, "what it comes down to is handling the pressure. A schedule is not made to be followed to the letter of the law, but when it is changed, you have to know exactly what is going to be affected."

Considering their line of work, it seems conceivable that the Lodis might adhere to a strict schedule in the private lives with assigned times for all activities. Both assert that is not the case. "I have always kept calendars to keep track of things," Paul said, "but I don't see life as an event. My own life is havoc."

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