Colby Carnival 2018 : “The Miracle On Ice*”


Only a smidge.  After a devastating one-two punch of driving rain and high temps on Friday, it seemed unlikely that Colby would be able to pull off the nordic portion of its Carnival over the weekend.

But with a sharp drop in temps on Saturday and the work of a talented grooming crew, Colby was able to salvage a 1.7k loop and host a 5k freestyle race for women and a 10k race for men on Sunday.  (If you’re counting at home — that translates to three laps for the 90 women and six laps for the 100 men.  Toss in a few warm up loops and you’re talking about 1,000 trips around…)

And for those of you that are unfamiliar with EISA — it’s the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association, part of  NCAA Division One Skiing.  On one hand, it’s a little “different” — member colleges range from scholarship powerhouses like UVM and UNH to non-scholarship schools like Bates, Colby, Middlebury, Harvard, etc.  Toss in a perennially strong Dartmouth and you’ve got an interesting mix.

But as a league and an experience, it’s second to none.  Great coaching, an incredible vibe and truly amazing athletes.  All three women on Sunday’s podium represented the USA at last year’s World Junior/U23 Championships.  And even with the bigger schools, the smaller colleges find a way to compete.  This year’s Men’s race winner was a Colby student.

All in all, great practice and a chance to get sharp for the trip.**


(* With apologies to Al Michaels)

(** Pro Tip : If you want to sharpen your xc skiing photography skills, shoot a race with 1,000 laps…)

Packing, Part #1

Wow, this is coming up fast.  With only 23 days before my plane leaves, I’ve got to start thinking about packing.

I’ll admit that my call with Dave Black earlier in the fall threw me off a bit.  I had initially planned to “go light” on this trip and borrow from the Nikon room when necessary.  But now that I’ve seen maps of the facilities, Dave’s advice to be self-reliant was right on.  There just won’t be time to go back to the main press center between events.

So here’s the camera gear I’m planning to bring.  With only a couple of exceptions, it’s my typical “kit” for a big event.


Three camera bodies :

  • Nikon D5
  • Nikon D850 : Is it a landscape camera? Yes.  Is is an action camera? You bet.  It’s the craziest, best thing that Nikon has come out with in a very long time – ESPECIALLY if you like buying hard drives.
  • Nikon D4s : I’ll use this one primarily as a fixed remote when needed.

Seven lenses :

  • Nikon 300mm, f2.8 : My favorite ski lens of all time.  Sharp as nails.
  • Nikon 70 – 200mm, f2.8 : Years ago when I was shooting my first World Cup, I heard one of the European photographers describe this as a “fighting” lens.  Great all the time, but when a mass start comes down to a fight for the finish, it’s the one that you absolutely want to have in your hands.
  • Nikon 14 – 24mm, f2.8 : A bit of a specialty lens, but another favorite.
  • Nikon 24 – 70mm, f2.8
  • Nikon 35mm, f2 :  If you remove the battery grip from the D850 and add this lens, it’s a remarkably compact package.
  • Nikon 1.4x teleconverter
  • Nikon 24 – 120mm, f4 : This one is new to me.  My hope is that it’ll be a great lens for a fixed remote.  And frankly, it’s been a permanent fixture on the front of my camera since I bought it.

Assorted :

  • Three Pocketwizard Multimax with custom IDs
  • Manfrotto Magic Arm with a Hejnar Arca-Swiss plate.
  • Really Right Stuff Pocket Pod & Micro-ball Head :  RRS’s price points hurt just a little, but this was worth it.  At most races, I’ll shoot with one camera and use another as a “walking” remote – I’ll move it to different spots during the race.  After trying a bunch of pocket tripods/heads over the years, I’ve found that this is the only one that doesn’t creep from the weight of the camera.
  • Nikon SB700 flash : I’ve got some team shots to take and will use this for a little fill.
  • Nikon SU800 flash commander – Allows the flash to be used remotely.  And the very talented Joel Marklund taught me a few tricks with this at last year’s World Junior / U23 Championships in Soldier Hollow.

If anyone has any suggestions, please send them along.  And if someone wants to buy me this new Nikon lens,  please know that I will be eternally grateful.  Email me for a shipping address.

USANA 2017 FIS Nordic Junior & U23 World Ski Championships
Here’s a “walking” remote shot from last year’s World Junior/U23 Championships in Soldier Hollow, UT.  Photographers weren’t allowed to stand in this area, but we could put cameras here.