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.’
While I’ve (obviously) been planning this trip for a while, it wasn’t “official” until my credentials arrived this morning. (Long story. The good news is that it was spelled right.)
Truly looking forward to this trip. My assignment in Pyeongchang is to shoot all the nordic events — a US cross-country team with a chance of making history, biathlon with Americans defending World Championship gold and silver as well as nordic combined / jumping teams that could provide a few surprises.
On a more personal level, it’s incredible to think that I’ve known & photographed many of these athletes for decades through coaching here in Maine, my work with the New England Nordic Ski Association, the National Nordic Foundation and L.L.Bean’s U.S. Ski Team partnership. It’s a privilege to be part of their Olympic journey.
Out of respect for the people who are helping to make this trip happen (and fear of getting tangled in the IOC’s considerable rules governing photographs), I won’t be posting to flyingpointroad.com during the Olympics. At this point, here’s where you can follow along :
Alaska Pacific University – I’m helping them with coverage of their athletes. They’re planning frequent email / social blasts.
Here on the blog. I’ll publish additional photos, some behind the scenes material and — with any luck — alpine, freestyle and other events that I hope to shoot. (flyingpointroad’s chief meteorologist highly recommends the Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe.)
Occasionally to the @flyingpoint instagram and twitter accounts.
Some of you know that one of my first jobs was as a photo stringer for the Lewiston Sun Journal here in Maine. Really cool to add the Olympics to that resume.
It probably speaks to my photography skills that I’ve received more questions about clothing than camera gear. So here’s a quick look at the apparel that I’m packing for Pyeongchang.
Apparel choices start with weather. And according to flyingpointroad’s Chief Meteorologist, Seth Wescott, here’s what I should expect in South Korea : “Pyeongchang was usually quite cold in the bitter, humid Maine way, but generally windy as well. So being prepped for a good cold Sugarloaf day should have you all set!”
Bitter, humid cold? Like Maine? Like a Sugarloaf wind-hold day? That’s my sweet spot! As a result, 90% of my gear is stuff that I use every day I’m shooting.
L.L.Bean Mountain Treads. (I think.) This pair is a few years old. Gore-tex, made in Italy and truly awesome for stomping around all day.
Salomon Toundra Pro CSWP. When I was coaching my very first ski race, one of the other coaches told me “If you’re fond of keeping all your toes, you need to buy a pair of NEOs.” And if you look around at any cross-country ski meet in the East, you’ll see that nearly every coach is wearing NEOs over another pair of shoes or ski boots. They’re fantastic and I typically wear them over the Mountain Treads. The only challenge is that with two pairs of boots, they’re heavy and a little clumsy. Given that I’m going to be doing a lot of walking during the Olympics, I wanted an alternative. After doing a bit of research, I came up with these Salomons. They’re light, crazy warm with an Aerogel insert and were fantastic during the “Miracle on Ice” test.
Craft, Craft and more Craft. Tops and bottoms. Layerable if needed.
Grid Fleece. A couple of pieces here. A long discontinued L.L.Bean micro-grid pullover and a new Arc’teryx full-zip that my kids gave me for Christmas.
L.L.Bean Primaloft. I think this piece was also discontinued and I’ll admit that I’m “teetering” just a bit. It’s a little heavy and I have alternatives that would also work. But the primaloft is fantastic if we see any rain or wet snow. Bonus points for the flyingpointroad logo that my kids had embroidered on it.
L.L.Bean Neoshell. This is either called the “Bounder” jacket now or was discontinued. Kikkan Randall turned me on to this jacket — it’s the outerwear of choice on APU’s Eagle Glacier summer training facility. Breathes well, resists everything but a sideways monsoon and packs up surprisingly light.
Craft Storm Tight 2.0. Great for cold weather x-c skiing and equally good as a “wear all day in the snow” pant. Nylon shell in the front and a crepe fabric in the back. Dries quick. Awesome for kneeling in the snow. Drawcord. I buy a pair every year.
Patagonia Galvanized Pant. These are a “soft-shell” type ski / alpine pant and after trying them at the Colby race, I wish I would have bought them years ago. GREAT pockets. The suspenders are incredibly useful. And – unlike other manufacturers – the length is spot on for a relatively normal build. (I’m looking at you Strafe) If it gets crazy cold, I’ll wear them over the Storm Tights.
Bates Skiing Hat. Need to represent.
Skida Hat. Lighter weight than the one above. On a cold day, it’ll be both hats. And huge shout out to Corinne and Margie for their continued support of the “cranially advantaged” over the years.
Buffs. Assorted. One of the mysteries of life is why it took humans so long to figure out that a simple tube of stretchy fabric had infinite functionality.
Outdoor Research Overmitts. I think these are technically ice climbing mitts, but they’re perfect for wearing over shooting gloves on “Narrow Gauge” type days.
Black Diamond Liners. I’m not even sure when I bought this pair, but they’re fantastic.
YOKO “Kikkan Randall Edition” Gloves. XC skiing gloves are the best shooting gloves imaginable. They’ve typically got sticky rubber on the fingers and palms. I’ll bring over a pair of Craft gloves and these YOKOs, but we’ll give the pair shown the sentimental nod for this trip.
Black Diamond Backcountry Gloves. These aren’t shown and seem to be missing in action. But they’re a bit warmer than traditional race gloves and still have enough articulation to work the camera dials. I need to find these before I leave…
Three weeks is a long time, so say a small prayer that I find a washing machine over there. If that doesn’t happen, pray that you’re not on the plane with me on the way home.
(Incidentally, Packing Part #1 “The Gear Edition” is here.)