Twenty-eight hours of travel later, I’m now back in Maine.
It was an amazing twenty-three days. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at my first Olympics. Great races? Sure. But a gold medal for Kikkan and Jessie? Dependable and efficient bus transportation? Reasonably decent wifi? Those were all fabulous surprises.
A few more things I’ll remember from Pyeongchang :
- Korean Ramyun – Pretty sure that I had ramyun for at least 40 of the 69 meals in South Korea. Maybe more. But the biggest surprise was that Koreans really like all things spicy. I’d always ask if a certain ramyun choice was “hot.” Without exception, the answer would be “oh, no. Not spicy.” And as I was taking the first couple bites and starting to spontaneously combust, I’d hear “well, maybe just a little.”
- The weather. Have I mentioned that it was cold? Most of the days were a seasonable mid-twenties and we even had a period of sunshine. But as soon as the sun went down, the wind would pick-up and the temperature would plummet. And that goes double for the Ice Planet Hoth Biathlon Stadium. It took all the photographers by surprise. Or, to quote one of the photographers who lives in Ruka — in the very northern part of Finland, “Pyeongchang is the coldest place I’ve ever been…“
- The North Face Olympics – With the disclaimer that these folks are friends, one of my lasting memories of these Olympics will the North Face presence. I’ve heard that TNF made over 50,000 volunteer uniforms and they were everywhere. The partnership was exceptionally well done and I thought the uniforms served to “connect” the Pyeongchang visual identity across the various venues.
- It was tough. I had been forewarned that shooting the Olympics would be physically demanding and Pyeongchang didn’t disappoint. My typical schedule was to arrive at the Main Press Center between 9:00 and 10:00. I’d take care of a few administrative type things and then head out to the various venues. My goal was to be back in the house by midnight and that happened about 50% of the time. According to Apple Health, I was walking an average of 9 miles a day and climbing 45 floors. My biggest day was on February 6th when I walked 11.2 miles and climbed 71 floors. What Apple doesn’t take into consideration was that I was always carrying between 30 – 40 lb of photo gear. So “yes,” I should have done more squats before the trip.
- The other photographers. I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but I heard that 1,000 EP (photographer) credentials were issued for the games. Bottom line, Pyeongchang had 999 (plus me) of the best photographers in the world, all in one spot. Not only are these folks incredibly talented, but — almost to a person — they couldn’t have been nicer. I mentioned David Burnett here, but Doug Mills of the New York Times, Jeff Swinger of USA Today, Lars Baron of Getty, Joel Marklund, the NordicFocus group, etc. — I couldn’t imagine spending the month with a better bunch.
I’ll do a couple more posts over the next few days. I’m still getting questions about “who can stand where?” from a photographer’s perspective and now that I’m (almost) unpacked, I’d also like to do a gear wrap-up.
But thanks for following along. It’s been a heckuva ride.