Pyeongchang 2018: Over Already

001_overalready_022618A 22 degree halo encircles the sun at the snowboard parallel giant slalom event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Phoenix Snow Park. The halo is caused by sunlight reflecting through ice crystals in the upper atmosphere.

With a little less than an hour and a half until my airport shuttle arrives at 3am, I have just enough time to finish packing my bags, as well as attempting to finish all the snacks I forgot I brought, along with penning one final blog from the Phoenix Snow Park here in Pyeongchang. Of the four Olympics that I’ve photographed, this one definitely went by the quickest, and there are several theories floating around the group as to why it feels that way. Living right next to the venue and not having to take shuttle buses anywhere seems to be the most agreed upon consensus. Having to bus back and forth to all your venues can add hours to your day (and shave away at what little is left of your daily patience allotment).

Kyle Terada and I got a little reminder of what the Olympics bus life is like, with our last event of the Games being around an hour and a half away at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre. With this being the first event either of us have shot outside of the venue we anchored (the extreme park), we had to do a bit of logistical juggling to figure out which combination of shuttle buses would get use to the venue on time.

002_overalready_022618View of the start line in the women’s 30km classic style cross country event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Alpensia Cross-Country Centre.

In a serendipitous nod to my past Olympics experiences, cross country was also my last event at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. While I haven’t shot cross country skiing since then, the visuals of the sport quickly came back to me much like riding a bike. One of my favorite parts of the event is photographing athletes as they cross the finish line. When you have someone physically exerting themselves for 30 kilometers, the finish usually results in athletes falling over, vomiting, convulsing, you name it. I can barely walk up 200 feet of a ski slope without my legs burning, much less ski for 30 kilometers, so I have much respect for these athletes and what they do. To document their achievements up close with my lens is certainly one of the many privileges I get to exercise while here.

003_overalready_022618Krista Parmakoski (FIN) leads Kerttu Niskanen (FIN) and Teresathe Stadlober (AUT) in the women’s 30km classic style cross country event.

004_overalready_022618Marit Bjoergen (NOR) skis in the women’s 30km classic style cross country event.

005_overalready_022618Marit Bjoergen (NOR) reacts at the finish line after winning gold in the women’s 30km classic style cross country event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Alpensia Cross-Country Centre.

006_overalready_022618Victoria Carl (GER) after the women’s 30km classic style cross country event.

The day before had the entire group here at the extreme park shooting mens and ladies giant parallel slalom snowboarding. While the event can be a bit repetitive, it’s always a treat to be outdoors and photographing athletes against beautiful natural settings. I’m only mad that I didn’t capture the talk of the day – the squirrel that almost met its demise in the ladies 1/8th finals (Google it)!

007_overalready_022618RT Hofmeister (GER) races ahead as Alena Zavarzina (OAR) falls in the small final of the snowboard parallel giant slalom event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Phoenix Snow Park.

008_overalready_022618Feb 24, 2018; Pyeongchang, South Korea; Alena Zavarzina (OAR) reacts after falling in the small final in the snowboard parallel giant slalom event.

009_overalready_022618The sun sets over Alpensia Cross-Country Centre during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

As always, I have to extend a special thank you to the entire team of USA Today Sports Images team members who worked behind the scenes to allow us to do our jobs smoothly. From all the editors down at the MPC, to all the technical gurus who ran our ethernet lines in brutal conditions to allow us to transmit our images instantaneously around the world. We truly could not have told our stories without these fine ladies and gentlemen, and for them I’m grateful. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention all the Olympics volunteers who greeted us every morning with a smile and a hello, or waved with an enthusiastic goodbye at the end of a long day. They were like our cheerleaders, and their energy was certainly palpable on those very cold days when being outside seemed like an impossible feat.

010_overalready_022618Volunteers who enthusiastically greeted us and bid us farewell daily during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Phoenix Snow Park.

Guy’s Korean Word of the Day is, 안녕, pronounced, “Ahn-yo,” meaning, “Goodbye,” as in, “안녕 from Phoenix Snow Park and the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games!”

Pyeongchang 2018: Sounds Wild

001_soundswild_022318A woman takes a selfie on the beach in Gangneung as seen through a sculpture set up for the Fire Art Festival in conjunction with the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

002_soundswild_022318It’s been another two days of beautiful sights and disconcerting sounds here at the Winter Olympics and Phoenix Snow Park. I really wish I could record some of the sounds I hear athletes making during competition and share them with you all here. In my previous entry, I detailed how I was yards away from a French ski snowcross rider who wiped out and proceeded to wail in agony for the next several minutes until the medics got him stabilized.

Thursday would bring another Frenchmen tumbling down near me (Kevin Rolland on the halfpipe), filling the chilly air with his moans and groans as he slid motionless down the icy bowl. Again, these real-deal sounds never seem to make it through on television, and perhaps that’s by design. We are made to believe that these athletes are larger-than-life immortals and not putting themselves in any real danger. The past couple of weeks here have reminded me that these competitors (save for, perhaps, the folks over in curling) are risking it all each time they set out on course.

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Pyeongchang 2018: Part Of The Game

001_partofgame_022218Jonathon Lillis (USA) during the men’s freestyle skiing aerials final during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Phoenix Snow Park. This image was created by pressing my lens against the blue catch fence net material that lined the course.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been on the ground here in South Korea for over two weeks. It feels like just yesterday that I was having my first meal here (a box of finger lickin’ good KFC), and it’s even harder to believe that there are just over four days left before I’ll board my flight to return home. As I alluded to in my first blog, this Olympics experience has been one of the most difficult I’ve experienced as far as fatigue is concerned, yet I still enjoy being here and will be sad when it all comes to an end.

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Pyeongchang 2018: Halfway

001_halfway_021818Devin Logan (USA) loses control in ladies ski slopestyle final run 1 during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Phoenix Snow Park.

002_halfway_021818It has been a tiring yet productive three days here in the mountains at Phoenix Snow Park, with some really enjoyable events hitting the schedule that we’ve just crossed the halfway mark of. It can be hard to believe we’ve already been here for almost two weeks–it feels like we just arrived yesterday! I must admit that I’ve started to miss some cuisine only available back home. That reminds me, can someone get a quote on freeze-drying and overnight shipping a Zel’s roast beef sandwich? Thanks.

One event that I really enjoyed shooting was snowboard snowcross for both the ladies and men. Snowcross, where five or more athletes race each other down a twisting and turning course, is the first competition we’ve covered that involves multiple athletes going against each other at the same time, as opposed to one athlete after another running down the course. Visually, having multiple athletes with which to fill the frame at the same time is always a win for me. For one, there is an immediate battle within the photo. Another reason multiple athletes on course at the same time is exciting? The ever-present potential for crashes, of course.

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