Sochi – In the Rear View Mirror – Part 1

I have been back home for a week now and I am really just starting to figure out what time zone I am in and what day it is, I am sure of one thing – it has been REALLY REALLY cold here in Minneapolis. So far have had the most days (53) with a below zero (F) temp since 1888! Who would have ever guessed that I was going to Russia for the equivalent of Spring Break!  I am doing my best not to complain, my neighbor Steve plowed out my driveway and well, I am leaving for the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon on March 10th for a week. By then, I am cautiously optimistic the weather will have turned. That is turned in the right direction and be racing toward spring.

As seductive as it was to be shooting in Sochi, with great venues, the worlds best athletes and other wonderful photographers, it feels just as good to be home!

I appreciate all of the great Facebook and twitter feedback on my blogs, which is a good thing since I still have a few more to post, some of which really could not be done until I returned home, just to be sure I could give you the full reflection of my experience.

For my final full day in Sochi, there were several events that I would have liked to have shot, Alpine, Bobsleigh and Cross Country, but when I managed to get myself moving I realized I had hit the wall.

After 19 days of travel, 23 events in 15 days, editing every night and only 2 reasonably decent meals since I arrived, I was totally spent, exhausted and I still had to pack. Actually the phrase that was most commonly used was Utterly Smashed.

I had really made this decision returning from breakfast. It was a crystal clear day with fresh snow on the mountains and I realized that I hadn’t even taken a shot of the view. I went back up to my room grabbed a camera (not wanting to just use my old iPhone that I save for using International SIM cards) and headed back out. Not a bad view at all.

Sochi 140222 4022-2I have very few shots of the Mountain Cluster. Generally at the end of the day if I went out at all, I rarely brought a camera – I was typically on a mission – FOOD!

My last night up at the Laura Biathlon & Ski Complex I had realized that I hadn’t really provided any context shots of the amazing venue. I had tried one prior night but that was the day the race was postponed due to the fog.

There really wasn’t a viable spot to get a shot of the entire venue, even from the spectator seating, I wouldn’t be high enough to get the shot that I wanted. Our photo manager was a great guy and gave me a tour of how I could get access to the roof and shoot from there. When I arrived, I was alone. Keep in mind that alone anywhere in Sochi, includes a security guy! No worries about getting lonely here.

To understand why the Biathlon Venue is so spectacular and so important to Russian 20th century history and culture, you should really take a look at the fabulous Boston Globe article by William Frank Why Russians Love Biathlon.

Here is the start of the Women’s Relay, the 17 athletes give you an idea of the expansiveness of the venue.

OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -   Women's 4x6 Biathlon RelayThe above image was shot from the far right side roof. Several nights we were treated to spectacular sunsets. Great crowds with seating for 7,500, which by my estimate is just about equal to the total number in the US who have heard of Biathlon in a non-Olympic year. Biathlon is currently the most popular winter sport in Europe.

OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -   Women's 4x6 Biathlon RelayNot a bad office!

More soon.

Paul

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