Fantasy Camp For Sports Photographers

Well sort of but not quite, but for the 5th  (or 6th?) year I will be teaching my sports photography class at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.

Ok, it is not quite camp, there are no tents or cabins; there are no s’mores and probably no bonfires! In addition, you will not be shooting from the back of a motorcycle and while we will be at events, you will not in an editorial sense be Covering the Event.

You will however have a great opportunity not only to shoot but also to have access at events that you could not do on your own. Well at least not legitimately.

Here are a few snaps from prior sessions.

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Zalusky Advance Riding
Zalusky Advance Riding

Although the events change year-to-year depending both on the weather and the calendar, our tentative schedule

  • Class at MCAD -Tuesday June 7
  • Liberty Triathlon – Saturday Morning June 11
  • Capitol City Triathlon Morning – June 12
  • Class at MCAD Tuesday – June 14
  • Paul Saints – Wednesday Evening June 15
  • North Star Bike Festival – Friday Evening  June 17
  • Canterbury Downs – Saturday Morning June 18
  • Motorcycle racing – Sunday – Mid-day June 19
  • Class at MCAD – Tuesday June 21
  • Events Pending – June 25 /26
  • One on one student sessions June 26 to 27

As you can see, the weekend of June 17, 18 & 19 we have 3 events schedule, which will really give you a real world feel of what it like to be a working editorial sports photographer.

Although your level of photo experience does really not matter to take the course, the more you know the more you will gain. Each year, we have a student or two who comes back for a second session and their work really improves.

What is important is that you are familiar with equipment. Although we do discuss the use of shutter speeds and f/stops, it will be in the context of getting a sports photo and telling a story and not the basic functionality.

One of the traditionally most popular classroom sessions is the detail walk through of my digital workflow from shooting the photo to post processing, using both Photo Mechanic and Lightroom. Efficiency is as critical whether shooting sprint event or an Ironman.

The final few days will be test of how much coffee I can drink! I will meet with each of the participants individually to give you each a more specific critique of what you can work on and where you can take your photography.

I hope you see you there. Registration begins on May 2nd but in the meantime you can review the details on the MCAD Continuing Education Website.

In closing, I am going to show off just a bit.

Roth1303The image was shot last July at the Challenge Roth Triathlon and was published in In January 2016, it was selected by the industry group, Triathlon Business International as the Top Published Triathlon Photo of 2015.

The Best Seat in the House: Part 1 – A View from the Back

I am back home from another great weekend of shooting, this time at the Ironman California 70.3 at Oceanside. Over the years this event has been the unofficial beginning of the North American long-distance triathlon season and as such always draws an impressive international field to appropriately do battle over the rolling hills of the Camp Pendleton Marine Base course.

Probably the one thing that makes me most recognizable to the athletes is that not only do I shoot from the back of a motorbike, but I am sitting backwards.

2013 Hawaii Ironman, thanks Sebi Kuhn for the photo!

For the athletes who know me, this is certainly not an unusual sight, but for spectators and others I see around the course, we are constantly getting comments like: You must really trust your driver! And the answer is: YES, as a matter of fact I do. I have to, not only for my safety but also for the safety of all of those around me. Being on the course among the athletes is a skill that should not be understated and is certainly not for the inexperienced. It is hard to imagine anything more risky than an inexperienced driver with an inexperienced passenger.

I sit backwards because I believe there is really less movement than constantly twisting side to side to get the shot.  Here is my view of the course:

2013 GoPro Ironman World Championship - Kona Hawaii
2013 GoPro Ironman World Championship – Kona Hawaii

In late March there was a tragic event at the Flanders Classics Bike Races where a rider who with four other riders crashed was struck by one of the race Motos and later died from injuries. There have been a number of articles including one by Casey Gibson who has been shooting cycling from motos for decades. Included in the articles are comments about limiting the number of motos on the course and about driver training. Although there are a few groups of professional drivers that support races, in the US the drivers at Triathlons are for the most part staffed by volunteers.

Now that the 2016 triathlon season is well underway I feel it is important to talk about the attributes of the types of motorcycles are best suited for race use and even more importantly the skills and communications required to safely work as a team on the course. While my comments are from the standpoint of a photographer, similar issues must be considered for race marshals and spotters.

My hope is that this blog may also serve as guidelines for volunteer Moto Captains as they are recruiting drivers.

There are really two schools of thought on how photographers and drivers interact. One is that the driver is your chauffeur. You tell him where you need to be and he takes you there. The other school of thought, which is how I like to work; as teammates!

I first met Bruno Desrochers in November 2011 at the Ironman Arizona where is wife Chris was competing. The day before the race, we had the meeting to pair the photographers and the drivers as well as to review the race rules. As planned, I arrived early walked around looked at the motorbikes, saw a BMW R1200GS and asked who owned that bike and then started to talk to Bruno and we were paired for race day. I had always been a BMW wannabe, they are smooth and quiet, and their drivers generally care more about the German engineering than the American noise.

In addition to pre-race briefing Bruno and I spent time reviewing how I liked to shoot, a basic communications protocol, drafting rules and most the most important rule of all: No matter what I ask him to do; he is in charge!

There are a few critical rules to keep in mind:

  1. Safety first!! The safety of the competitors, the spectators and our safety;
  2. Don’t be in a position where a cyclist can draft. In other words if we are too close to the riders, they might be able to obtain an unfair advantage. If they are too close to us, they will be assessed a penalty, which at a professional level can be the difference between being in or out of the money.
  3. Lowest on our priority is getting the shot. I take a couple hundred thousand shots a year and to the best of my knowledge not one of them has cured cancer. If we miss a shot, we will take another one!
  4. Finally: Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. We plan, we maintain a schedule and we neither have to rush or panic.

Being both a photographer and now also a motorcyclist, I am very particular about what I ride and whom I ride with. I own two BMW’s and as a member of the BMW Motorcycle Owners Association, I have almost always been able to recruit a great driver from the club with the right moto to work with me on the course. Not only have I had a teammate for the day, but also in most cases have developed friends I have stayed in touch with throughout the seasons.

There is only so much I can do and I start by taking care of my own needs. Having said that the Volunteer Moto Captains, most of which are motorcyclists need to understand the roles on the course and that one size / style of moto does not fit all.

Here is Bruno and my moto, which we used in Oceanside and will use in St. George. Although we have made small changes they are significant for me. The rear passenger grab bars have been removed and the passenger foot pegs have been replaced with platforms, which give me additional stability when I sit backwards.

Ironman 70.3 California
Ironman 70.3 California


There were only two other motos available for the Media on Saturday morning at Oceanside, both BMW Sport Bikes, one of which was a S1000RR. Keep in mind the S1000RR was originally built to compete at the 2009 Super Bike World Championship and only later sold as a production bike with a rear seat added.   This is not something I would really even want to ride as a passenger around the course, let alone try to shoot from. The image below is from the BMW Motorcycle website. It’s a great bike, but really out of place on a triathlon course, simply the wrong tool for the job. The other moto was a S1000R, a more street friendly version of the above, but still inappropriate for being on the course with triathletes.

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Driver competence is my highest priority. After all, I am trusting my life to the guy in front and I want to be sure that I am sufficiently comfortable to do my job and concentrate on getting the shot, without being concerned about my safety;

  • It is much easier to drive a motorcycle fast, than it is to be smooth and stable when we are going slow, particularly when you have a passenger who may be moving around on the back; and
  • Finally is the motorcycle, is it practical and comfortable to sit backwards? Is there a top case that I can use both for stability and for a work surface and finally is it relatively easy to mount and dismount during the race so I can shoot both from the moto or get off to get a different position. Three wheeled machines are just as inappropriate as sport bikes. They are just too wide and not sufficiently maneuverable.

Communications is also critical and I use a Sena 20S Bluetooth intercom to work with my driver.

With clear communications, we can easily adjust position for the shot, make sure that we have sufficient distance between an oncoming cyclist and ourselves and truly work together as a team both to stay safe and to get the shot.

There is an element of risk anytime you get on a motorcycle. Combining the normal riding risk, with an inexperienced passenger, possibly inappropriate equipment and 2,000 cyclists on the road further escalates the risk.

The easy answer to this is to only use professional riders. Easy yes, practical no; there very few groups of professional media drivers and the cost would be prohibitive for most events.

I think a great step would be to have definitive guidelines for the moto captains as to what the specific needs are of each group of riders: Media / Spotters / Marshals. In addition, a moto meeting the day prior to the event to pair teams, practice and review race rules and protocols. In addition, to have minimum guidelines for appropriate apparel for passengers, including: long pants, long sleeve shirt / jackets, over the ankle boots, protective eyewear and of course an appropriate helmet. Open face helmets are really the best option for shooting.

In reaching out to the BMW Club of Houston to prepare for the upcoming Ironman Texas, I connected with the race Moto Captain, Jerry Matson. As luck would have it, Jerry is also a past President of the BMW Club of Houston. He sent me a link to complete a very quick Google Form about my experience and needs. Nice work Jerry!

I have been the lead photographer for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon since 2003 and the number of motos on the course has varied from 1 to as many as 10, I assumed the responsibility as the Moto Captain. My rationale was simple and purely self-serving, I didn’t want someone else’s lack of understanding to screw things up for me.

At the marathon we use 6 BMW GS’s, two for photographers and four for live streaming videographers from USA Track and Field. Each of our drivers has decades and hundreds of thousands of miles of riding experience. In addition, we hold a driver / media meeting the afternoon before the event to pair the teams, discuss protocols, and have a practice ride. On race morning, it’s simple: coffee at the start and then get to work!

In conclusion, it is not about taking risks, it is about understanding and mitigating the risks. Although having motos on a racecourse will never be without risk, it can be minimized with proper planning, the right equipment, training and communications.

All of what I have included above has been derived from my level of trust and comfort. I think the best information regarding riding skills and experience must come from my partner Bruno Desrochers.

Coming up in my next blog will be the thoughts of Bruno who has driven for me since 2011 and David Ashe who drove for me for the first time in San Juan in March.

Sochi – In the Rear View Mirror – Part 2 – Olympic Fitness Program

I knew going to Sochi was going to be physically demanding. London was hard, but I at that time I was still in recovery mode from my run in with the SUV in 2011. This year after my triathlon race season had wrapped up in mid-November I made a commitment to myself to get in shape, with the lofty goal of being Not Bad for an Old Guy!

With the help of my friends from Core Power Yoga in Edina, MN I was there 5 days a week for the next 13 weeks! I know what you are thinking, I do not quite match the typical demographic of the yoga practitioner and OMG – He’s Wearing Yoga Pants! But with the help and support of some great instructors and friends; and the fact that working alone they were the only human beings I got to see during the day, I made it.

After 3 flights over 2 days and over 6,000 air miles, I arrived in Sochi without too much physical stress. I had gotten a good night’s sleep in Moscow and had a couple of good meals. I was now rested and ready to go!

I was lucky enough to get a ticket and as such, my first event was the Opening Ceremonies.  Scheduled to begin at 8:14 PM (20:14 duh) at first sounds like an easy day. However I had to be at the USOC office to get my ticket at 2:00, which since I was unfamiliar with transit times, I left my apartment at 11:30 AM.

Ultimately we had to be in place at Fisht Stadium by 5:00 PM before the public was allowed into the venue. The good news is that I was with a great group who I would have the privilege of seeing at varies venues over the next two weeks.  The bad news was we had to go up 10 flights of stairs, down eight, back up five flights, walk through a tunnel and then finally up to our position. Of course I was carrying all of my gear, except my laptop which I left locked at the media center.

Little did I know this was the warm up for what would become the norm for the week. Arrive early, haul equipment and climb stairs.

I know what you are thinking here – what if you had a party, invited the entire world and well, no one showed up? Sochi Opening Ceremonies

Nope, I didn’t get to see the lighting of the torch, it was outside and I was inside!

Sochi Opening CeremoniesWe finally got out of the stadium after 11:00 PM and decided to walk back to the Media Center since the buses would have probably taken longer! It was a long walk at the end of a long day! I transmitted a few images, picked up my things from my locker and headed to get the bus back to the mountains.  Keeping in mind it is my first day, I asked for bus TM10 to Gorki and the smiling volunteer said  – you can also take TM5, so I did. As it turned out, TM5 just drove in a 20 minute loop to the hotels around the Olympic Park and returned to the Media Center.

At this point I was far to exhausted to be upset and well, what good would it do? I found TM10 back to the Gorki Mountain Media Center and transferred to TM13 to my hotel. When I asked the transportation volunteers how long until TM13 arrives, they said 10 minutes. Funny thing over the 2 + weeks I was there, it was ALWAYS 10 minutes; never 5, never 15 – always 10 minutes. Finally just after 2:00 AM, I collapsed!

The next day was my first day at the Laura Biathlon & Ski complex. This was much more convenient, a 15 minute walk through security to the Krasnaya Polyana cableway (and yes it is pronounced just like that, but my iPhone auto-correct kept changing it to Polly Anna).

Sochi Walk About

More on Security later, but I took the big cableway (20+ capacity) to a smaller cableway (6 capacity) to the top of the venue. It was really pretty easy. Easy until I got off the cableway and looked up at the stairs I had to climb to get to the venue. 10 flights, yup I counted them!

10 flights of stairs and I had made one critical omission. I had somehow neglected to consider the venue was DUH – on a mountain and instead of the my Minneapolis normal 800 feet above sea level, I was now at almost 5,000 ft! I started walking up the stairs at my normal pace and after a few flights I felt like I was going to explode! Couple more flights, more of an explosion! Hot, sweaty, dehydrated and sucking wind!

OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  - Mens Giant SlalomI was able to gather myself together, get in position to shoot the Cross Country event, and then back to Biathlon to get ready for the evenings race.

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USBA140208 013Post event, I was totally oblivious to how far I had walked earlier – I was sure it was about 7 miles. I asked if there was a bus to the cableway. Of course! I took MX1 to the cableway. Just one problem, different cableway. Which ultimately ended in much discussion to find another bus and a late night 30 minute walk carrying all of my gear back to my apartment! This is only day 2!

I think it was day 4 when I realized that I was working at altitude (there was a reason they called it the Mountain Cluster – previously I was thinking Cluster was the key word), from there I just climbed the stairs more slowly, used my yoga breath and could make it up all 100 flights (oops, I mean 10) without a problem.

For the next couple nights, it was a quick and easy trip down. However on the 3rd night, I could no longer take the 10 flights of stairs directly down to the cableway, I now had to take an 18 minute side trip up and down hills through slush and ultimately up 5 more flights of stairs to get to the same spot. Why you ask? The ubiquitous answers to any question like this is: Because this is Russia!

As the games progressed I was able to find ways to conserve my energy, mostly by using the Media Transportation System, often more connections but less physical stress.

It really shouldn’t be a surprise that I actually left Sochi in better shape than I arrived, although I was doing pretty well when I arrived. You know, Not Bad for an Old Guy!

My re-entry was a 7:30 AM yoga class about 12 hours after getting home and an afternoon massage. Since I have another 26 hour travel day coming up next week, I have been at yoga every day since returning.

Just to put your mind at ease and so you will allow young children to possibly look at my blog, I do NOT wear yoga pants!

More soon.


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.


Sochi Withdrawal? I Have a Cure!

I won’t lie about it. Whether I am shooting or not, after major events that capture my attention and consume by days, I suffer from withdrawal.  I think this is why they only have the Olympics every 2 years. Otherwise national productivity would be more than our economies could handle.  I get the same way with the Tour d’ France.  Sometimes the Tour is worse. I watch it live again and then have the replays on TV the rest of the day. Worse yet is the Hawaii Ironman where I am totally consumed by the island energy (and Kona coffee) while I am there.

I am not sure if I have a cure or if it is just a way to continue your fix!

I have been really pleased with my Sochi shots,  so I am having a Twitter Contest so you can win a Large Format (16×24) print of one of my favorite snaps!

Just follow @CompImagePhoto on Twitter and for every 100 new followers, I will give away one large format print to my current twitter followers who Retweet and one to a new follower. Just as an example a few of my favorites are below, but take a look at my Twitter Contest Gallery and find your favorite.

Sochi Gallery 006

Sochi140217 2753 Sochi140220 3540 OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Speed Skating - Mens Giant Slalom

I get to spend the day in Moscow and then on to Amsterdam tonight.

More soon.


Sochi – Getting Extreme

Extreme sports at the Olympics have been expanding since Snowboard events were first introduced at the Nagano Olympics in 1998. X-Games genre and great spectator events. Ski Cross which was introduced as a Medal Event in 2010, is simple head-to-head competition, no judges, no points, you race to the bottom and if you are one of the first two across the line, you advance to the next round. It is sort of like Moto-Cross, you know without the moto or much protective gear.

I had the opportunity to get a Field Of Play position on the course. I took the chairlift up with my gear, I put on my crampons (my new favorite piece of winter photo gear) and walked down to position.  While the go to lens this year is the 200 – 400mm f/4.0 zoom (for Canon with a build in 1.4x tele-extender) I had my 400mm f/2.8 beast. After a few shots near the first jump the guys who were there suggested I go below the 2nd jump, it would be a better shot with the 400. And, as luck would have it, it was!

For the first run, the skiers went down individually to get a time for 1/8th final 4-up heats. The first shots will give you some context of the start area and the first jump.

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After the initial seeding the chaos begins with the 4 up heats. The first 2 across the line progress to the next round. The good news about shooting near the top is that you have a much greater chance of getting all four racers together. As they continue down, they typically spread out.

Sochi140220 3531 Sochi140220 3535 Sochi140220 3540 Sochi140220 3542-2After the first heats, I headed down and back to my apartment. My plan was to head down to the Olympic Park for the evening Medal Ceremony.

More soon,


Sochi – Women Drivers Deliver Precious Metal

After a morning at the Men’s GS, I made it down the mountain to the media center and then back to my apartment. Traveling via the Gorki Media Center is not a direct route, but it involves the least walking and as such the least expenditure of energy and if I am lucky I can get a quick power nap in on the bus. That just doesn’t work as well for me when I am walking!

The Bobsleigh (yes it’s officially Bobsleigh no matter what they say on NBC), venue is actually the closest to me. It is a short walk to the Krasnaya Polyana Cableway and then a short ride to the venue. The cableway lets me off at turn 7 of 17. Which gives you an idea of how much I have to walk to get up  to the start.

Although Delly and I had been there shooting during the day, I wanted to come back at night and get some start shots. It is at the start that you really get to see the interaction between the athlete and the Sleigh.

I found a great position, on the right side of the track just after the start. Although I thought I was in an official photo position, Oops. Nikita (with the pink hair) told two of us that we were in an Olympic Broadcast System (OBS) only area. We had however cleared it with the OBS Camera Man in advance so we were good to stay – frowned on but good to stay.

I also made a new friend up there – the security guy. It is not the uniformed security personnel that I worry about, it is the ones without the uniform. They just stand there with a don’t mess with me and step over that line look. With him here, the Photo Manager who was likely a really good guy, was the least of my concerns. Over the next couple of hours my new friend would come over look at the display on my camera and smile, give me the thumbs up. He even had me take a few snaps of him with his cell phone.

As he was getting ready to head down to the finish, he pulled out a red leather ‘wallet’ with gold embossed letters on the outside. I have no idea what it said, by it was enough to let me in on the fact that we was no ordinary security guy. He smiled, waved good bye and headed to finish. I exhaled and relaxed.

The bobsleighs are clearly built for speed and not for comfort. The US machines were designed and built by BMW. Getting in is a real issue, there is no easy way to do it. Think how a driver would get into a Formula 1 car, if they had to do it after pushing it to it started!

Here are a few shots of the various ways to get going and before you laugh too hard at the positions, think about if you could even fit in the bobsleigh let alone get in while it was moving.

OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Women's Bobsleigh OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Women's Bobsleigh OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Women's Bobsleigh OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Women's Bobsleigh OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Women's Bobsleigh OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Women's Bobsleigh  OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Women's BobsleighFinally here is a shot of Lolo Jones pushing.

OLYMPICS: FEB XX XXII Olympic Games -  Women's Bobsleigh

The Canada #1 Team took the Gold by 0.10 seconds, with the USA getting Silver and Bronze.

More soon,


Taking Off in Sochi – Don’t Try This at Home

And on the 14th day, he rested – but not really.  I took most of the day yesterday off which meant that I stayed in the apartment editing.  The weather was still socked in with the cloud line just above the Mountain Cluster Hotels. Biathlon was delayed until the afternoon, pending possible reschedule and the Snowboard Cross was reschedule for today.

By the time there was a sign of things clearing I had two choices, Men’s Aerials Skiing or 2 Man Bobsleigh.  Since this was my only chance to shoot Aerials, I headed up to the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.  Short bus from the Apartment to the Cableway and then a ride up.

I was lucky enough to tag on to a young Chinese photographer Huang who with his pretty fair English skills and my two remaining Chinese words left over from the 2007 Women’s World Cup (hello and thank you), helped me through the maze to the venue media center.

After mentioning it had been my birthday, Huang asked my age, which I proudly told him and in true Asian tradition, with great respect he offered to help carry my gear. I declined.

I am not kidding there were at least 500 steps down from the Cableway to the park. Not such a big deal going down, but I was sort of dreading going back up after the event.

I made my way to the photo position and I had absolutely no idea how to shoot this thing.  During the practice runs, the skiers would come off of 1 of 4 jump points without warning. I  was using my 400 mm lens on a monopod (because no one hand holds a 400, right?). I had lots of shots of nothing and a couple of shots of them smashing into the snow for a landing.

When the competition began, I was able to watch the start on the large screen TV count to 5 and then know they would hit the lip of the ramp.  The only way to shoot it was to hand hold the 400!

For a couple skiers I went back to using my 70-200 just to show some context of what they are really doing up there.


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After the 2 qualifying rounds, I packed up and left. I found out that I could avoid the 500 steps, which post event looked more like 1,200, by taking the media transport bus back to the Mountain Media Center and then a bus right to my apartment door! It took probably 30 minutes longer to get back than it did to get there, but my guess is that if I had to walk up the stairs with my gear, I might have come out ahead on time with the bus anyway. I might be old, but I am not stupid. This Olympic media thing is about pacing!

It’s raining in the Mountain Cluster this morning and we all hope it is snowing up on the mountain.  I am heading down to the coast to shoot a bit of skating and if the weather clears see a bit of the park.

More soon –


Sochi – It was a Great Celebration

Thanks so much for coming out to my party yesterday. All of the cool kids were there either in person or in spirit. The stadium was absolutely filled and when I came back down toward the finish line everyone was screaming and waving flags! Needless to say, I was a bit overwhelmed!  Even President Putin was there, but he had to leave right at the finish, something about a hockey game.

US Anchorman Simi Hamilton, couldn’t stay long as he skied through the stadium area.

Sochi140216 2598The Swedish Women’s Gold Medal Relay Team stopped by.

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While I am not a person who typically indulges with selfies several of us where trading cameras to get an image with the rings and the mountains as the background.

Sochi140216 2469How could I not want this shot, what a great place to celebrate a birthday!

Oh yeah, there was some pretty amazing racing as well, here are just a couple snaps from the day. The Men’s 4×10 km relay is probably the biggest race in Nordic Skiing with incredible country pride on the line.  This weekend Sweden manage to double up and win both the Women’s 4×5 km relay as well as the Men’s race.

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The bright sun and warm weather took it’s toll on every athlete including Erik Bjornsen, whose sister Sadie had raced on Saturday.

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Sweden’s Marcus Hellner brought home the win and the flag to repeat their 2010 Gold Medal performance.

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Seriously, at least just for a moment – thank you all for the email, texts and Facebook massages on my birthday. One really cool part of celebrating in Sochi is that I get an extra 10 hours of love! An amazing place to celebrate!

More soon.


Celebrating in Sochi

An open invitation to all of my friends. Come join me this afternoon I have invited 7,500 of my closest friends to the venue to help me celebrate my 65th birthday!  Although due to my limited Russian language skills ( I think I am now up to 9 words) I don’t understand what they have been screaming from the stands, today I am sure they will all be cheering for me. You know that 4 x 10 km Men’s relay is just the warm up act.

Lest you think I am feeling old, yesterday I met an Italian Photographer, who pointed out he is living with his girlfriend in Spain. Giuliano’s first Olympics was in 1964. Wow! 50 years ago.  I feel like just a kid. He was having simultaneous conversations with several of us, which in and of itself is not unusual, but one was in Italian, one was in Finnish, one in German and with me in English.  One of the things he had explained to the Finnish photographer that he had hoped to learn more Finnish but his Finnish girlfriend moved out.

It was a beautiful sunny day, much too warm for the Winter Olympics and Giuliano kept us all entertained and instructed Go stand over there, you will make a better photo.’

He left us with some very important professional advice that can only be given by an Italian – Making pictures is nice, but always remember what is most important is sex!

Here are few snaps from the Women’s 4 x 5 km relay. Being on the course, I could see how hard the American girls were working, but some days you have fast skis and some days you don’t. Today they didn’t, but they left everything out there.

Kikkan Randall, #4 lead off.

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Sadie Bjornsen had the second leg getting some encouragement from one of the US coaches.

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The race leaders begin the 3rd skate leg.

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Liz Stephen tucks into the final lap down hill.

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The relay’s are notorious for dramatic sprint finishes, so today I got there after the 3rd exchange and had a great spot on the top row, clear view, clean background, right between the reserved spots for Sports Illustrated and Reuters.

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As they made the turn with about 200 meters to go, it still could have been anyone’s race. Left to right: Sweden, Finland and Germany.

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We were all ready, fingers on the shutter waiting for the lunge across the line. Well the Swedish team was also ready to celebrate, but as I always say, every shot is a lucky shot!

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Minnesota girl, Jessie Diggins left it all on the course today.

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More soon.