Sochi – Really, What Day Is It?

I asked at breakfast this morning and the told me it was Saturday.  I checked my iPhone and it said the February 22 and I know I leave on the 23rd, so I guess it is Saturday.  Days of the week have completely blended together. I do go by the date and the schedule.

Just as I was counting down the days prior to leaving and trying to get everything done, I have been counting down the days here to see what else I can shoot.

I had planned to do a blog at least every other day while I was here and up until the 18th (Tuesday, right?) I was doing great. Then somehow things got away from me.  The problem now is that I actually have to look at my files and the schedule to remember what I shot on Wednesday.

I guess I was at Men’s Giant Slalom on Wednesday. How could I forget that? That was the day that it actually felt like I was watching the Olympics!

I made it up to the Alpine and found the media center, which was HUGE. It should be no surprise that most of the media was from Europe and like I cover primarily Triathlon, these guys cover primarily skiing and they are good – REALLY good at it.

When I got there one of my Italian buddies Joe introduced me to the Photo Manager. I told him it was my first day at Alpine and asked about Photo Positions. He was French and asked: You have skis? No. You have Crampons? No, not here. I thought only the finish, he said no, you can walk up the side and shoot from off the course, but you have to be high because there are 2 meter fences! It’s not too dangerous, you will be fine! You have to be in position in 22 minutes, don’t worry, you will be fine.

I smiled, and using my mono-pod as a walking stick I started to climb. It was certainly not the steepest climb of the week, the problem was that it was either ice (these guys don’t ski on snow, it’s really ice) or soft mid-shin snow. I made it and cheated a bit by moving higher in between  runs.

I managed to get a few good shots, but another day at the venue would have been great – lots of better places to shoot. Now I believe – Crampons – don’t leave home without them!

For the 2nd Run, Joe said – now you shoot from the finish. You get one shot as they cross the line, turn and get one more shot as they celebrate!

Here is the view from my first position.

OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Speed Skating - Mens Giant SlalomYesterday’s rain in the valley was snow at altitude, I could see the Laura Biathlon & Ski Complex across the valley.

OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Speed Skating - Mens Giant Slalom

Here are a couple of shots from the side of the hill. Wait in Minnesota we have hills, I was on the side of the mountain! First is Golden Boy Ted Ligety, who put a full second on the rest of the field in his first run.

OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Speed Skating - Mens Giant Slalom

OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Speed Skating - Mens Giant Slalom

After the last skier, I scrambled down grabbed some water and then was back out to find Joe and get a finish position for the 2nd run.

This was the first time I really felt the energy of the crowd at the Olympics. By this time, the Stadium was full. Keeping in mind that the run times were less that a minute and a half, I could watch the start on the big screen TV and see the first part of the run. Then they would come over a ridge and I could watch about 10 seconds of them skiing, take 5 seconds to line up my shot and shoot for about 1/2 second. All with cheering fans in the background.

Here is an Austrian skier at the final gate, which really just lines them up for the finish line, you can see the finish line and the stadium reflected in his helmet.

OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Speed Skating - Mens Giant SlalomLigety was the last to go – the top 30 started in reverse order of the first run times. Here he is just after the final gate.

_IX_1532And as they say – The Crowd Went Wild! Sochi140219-3422-3More soon,

Paul

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