The way things are going, the entire Olympics will take place next Saturday. It’ll save on heat packs and hand warmers.
My original plan was to catch one or both slalom runs, hustle back for a few group shots, shoot the Nordic Combined and wrap things up with Women’s Biathlon.
First, they canceled the women’s slalom. High winds. The group shots were both quick and awesome. Then they canceled the women’s biathlon. High winds. Only a few hundred meters away, nordic combined ski jumping and the 10k Gunderson (pursuit) went off without a hitch. Welcome to Pyeongchang.
The best part of the day? It’s apparently Korea’s New Year tomorrow and my hosts had a full spread of Korean food waiting for me when I got home.
Today it was the men’s turn — 15x15k skiathlon in the afternoon, followed by a quick run to the biathlon for the 10k biathlon sprint.
The first was ski racing at its best. I think there was a new leader for each of the seven times they skied by my photo position. The eventual winner crashed near the 1k spot and skied through the entire pack for the victory. A British skier almost turned in the biggest upset in ski racing history. A Norwegian medal sweep that didn’t include Klaebo or Petter. It was an afternoon of all-around fantastic ski racing. And if you’re looking an incredible American performance — check out APU/UVM’s Scott Patterson. Eighteenth in his first Olympic race.
On my end, biathlon was a bit of a disappointment. I’m trying not to turn this into a daily weather report (that’s my brother’s job — “Doppler Doug.”), but having shot in a couple of cold places — Rumford, Quebec, Presque Isle, Fort Kent, the Narrow Gauge, Sjusjoen, etc. — last night was the first where my hands simply wouldn’t work. Toss in equipment challenges (I think the two are connected) and I didn’t have much luck. The good news is that the Americans qualified three for tonight’s pursuit, so I’ll get another chance.
Yesterday’s 7.5×7.5 Skiathlon got my portion of the Pyeongchang Olympics off to an incredible start. The leaders skied in a pack until Charlotte Kalla broke things up on the final climb. (Again.) Jessie Diggins skied a gutsy, head down, hammer down heckuva race and finished just off the podium.
It was then time to upload a few photos and then run — yes, run — to get to the Biathlon 7.5k sprint photo briefing (My apologies to Andy, Sophie and Noah for the all-too-quick hello.)
Have I mentioned that it’s cold here? And the coldest place of all is the biathlon range. The wind swirls constantly and played a significant role in the shooting during last night’s 7.5k Sprint. I have to give a nod to my friend Christian Manzoni, the owner of NordicFocus. When I asked him to predict the night’s winner, he rattled off a few of the favorites. Christian then paused and said “It will probably be Laura Dahlmeier of Germany because she simply doesn’t give a crap about the wind or the weather.”
Upcoming competition magic aside, the Olympics come with their share of headaches. Security. The photo position waltz. Trying to find food. Avoiding the flu. You name it.
But there are also incredible moments and I had one yesterday. Coming back from the jumping stadium, I found myself standing next to another photographer. Around his neck was a Nikon bag, a Canon camera, a Sony A9 and a Mamiya medium format. I might have made a joke about “camera format Yahtzee winner.” We chatted for a bit and rode back to the Press Center together.
Turns out, it was David Burnett.
I really can’t do justice to David’s work. Rolling Stone, Bob Marley, Viet Nam, Presidents, primaries, Olympics — David has covered nearly everything under the sun during his career and with a style that is remarkable. He’s here with the IOC and has a media pass that looks like it belongs to a retired French general. His job is to convey the spirit of the Games on behalf of the International Olympic Committee. And yes, he goes anywhere he damn well pleases…
David’s galleries are here. I encourage you to check them out — particularly his Olympic work.
And here’s an interview that also popped in my feed that’s worth a look.
Spent most of today at the various venues trying to figure out approved photo positions. There are only a few places where photographers can stand during big events like the World Championships and Olympics. And finding those spots is often subject to a perverse logic — the clearer the map, the more chaotic the actual situation.
Today’s example was the biathlon stadium. Crystal clear map with many photo locations marked. In reality, the stadium volunteers said that we could ONLY shoot from the finish area. (And were less than certain that lowly “green band” photographers could even access that one location.) Conversely, the jumping venue manager was incredibly apologetic about the lack of a map and general disorganization at the venue. But in reality, everything on the jumps was clearly identified and it was easy to move around.
The day wrapped things up at one of the Team USA XC press conferences. If they race as well as they handled the press conference — we’re going to see something special in February.
Made the trip from Seoul to Pyeongchang late this morning and spent the rest of the day taking care of a million details. Here’s nine of them :
Picked up my Opening Ceremonies ticket from the USOC.
Signed the IOC “Photographer’s Undertaking” document and picked up my green armband. Received a stern warning that armband replacement takes least 24 hours.
Signed in at Nikon.
Did a quick walk of the cross-country stadium.
Bantered with Paddy Calwell about the very “different” American flag on Team USA’s xc race hat. Attempted to distance myself from its creation.
Caught a bit of Team Canada Cross-Country’s press conference at the MPC. Stayed long enough to hear Alex Harvey patiently explain that the cold weather shouldn’t be a factor because “…Canada is cold too.”
Saw Ida. I think it was a different “Ida Sargent” with thumb issues, because this one seems great.
Anyone who has traveled overseas is familiar with the process. Long day of travel and a late afternoon arrival, followed by an evening walk around the neighborhood to avoid the dreaded “jet lag bedtime,” e.g. going to sleep at 6:30pm.
Tonight’s walk was around the Myeong-dong area of Seoul. And when flyingpointroad.com’s Chief Meteorologist described Korea as “quite cold in the bitter, humid Maine way,” he was absolutely spot on.
Time with friends tomorrow morning and then head up to Pyeongchang in the afternoon.’