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.

002_partofgame_022218Francois Place (FRA) leads the field in the men’s ski cross 1/8 final during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Phoenix Snow Park.

Since I wrote last, the team and I have covered mens aerials finals, ladies ski halfpipe qualifications and finals, mens ski slopestyle qualifications and finals, mens ski halfpipe qualifications, as well as mens ski snowcross finals. During the snowcross event, I witnessed (and heard) a moment that rattled me a bit. During the 1/8th final 2, as French rider Terence Tchiknavorian came over the jump I’d set up to photograph on the course, he obviously had way too much speed and lost control on his way down. He “caught an edge” on one of his skis as he landed, that is to say, he tripped himself and caused himself to fall. As he fell out of my view behind another jump, he inured himself and began to scream loudly in pain.

003_partofgame_022218Terence Tchiknavorian (FRA) (top left) begins to lose control before crashing in the men’s ski cross 1/8 final.


The last frame I have of Tchiknavorian’s crash before he dropped out-of-frame behind another jump and began to wail loudly in agony from his injury.

Though the medics were (and always are) quick to rush to his aid, he continued to scream in agony, his wails echoing through the trees in the otherwise dead-silent, crisp mountain air. There’s something about hearing another human being in agony that triggers something within you. I’m not sure if it’s the want to render assistance, or a fight or flight response to evaluate whether you’re in danger yourself somehow. Either way, it was a bit upsetting standing there hearing how much pain this rider was in. Mind you, you’d never hear this stuff watching on TV at home. You might see a slow-mo replay of the crash and then coverage moves on. In person, however, you get the real deal–a front row seat to someone’s Olympics dreams ending. While these riders know that injury is a part of the game when competing at this level, it doesn’t make it any easier knowing someone is extremely hurt just feet away. I believe the rider was eventually able to ski down the course under his own power (I never saw the medics cart him off), so all ended well for him all things considered.

005_partofgame_022218Alex Beaulieu-Marchand (CAN) during the men’s slopestyle freestyle skiing finals during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Phoenix Snow Park.

On Sunday, with it being the last day on the slopestyle course for men’s ski slopestyle finals, I decided to hike further up the course than I had for previous events (the equivalent of climbing a 30-story building). I was quite pleased to find an unobstructed view of the mountains and surrounding landscape up there that made for great backgrounds as the riders took to the air over several jumps. I got several solid images of Indiana native Nick Goepper while in that position (Goepper went on to take the silver medal in the event). USA Today chose the image for the national sports section front the following day.

006_partofgame_022218Nick Goepper (USA) during the men’s slopestyle freestyle skiing finals.

007_partofgame_022218My USA Today Sports section front featuring the above image of Groepper.

008_partofgame_022218I find these amusing – decoy police lights on poles that line the roadside in our neighborhood to fake-out speeders and keep traffic slow.

009_partofgame_022218Lukas Muellauer (AUT) drops in during the men’s freestyle skiing halfpipe qualification during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Phoenix Snow Park.

010_partofgame_022218An interior view of a lit sculpture depicting winter sports outside the Main Press Center during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Guy’s Korean Word of the Day is, 고통, pronounced, “Koe-tong,” meaning, “Pain,” as in, “Terence Tchiknavorianon’t was in a lot of 고통 after his crash.”

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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Pyeongchang 2018: A Different Cold

001_adifferentcold_021518View of the snow blown by the wind in run two of the ladies halfpipe qualification during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Phoenix Snow Park.

Growing up in the unforgiving winters of East Chicago, Indiana, I was pretty sure I’d felt and experienced it all with respect to frigid outdoor temperatures. I’ve had school cancelled for days because of negative wind chills. I’ve witnessed broken steel water pipes hemorrhaging their vital fluids into icy messes. I know the feeling of the inside of your nasal passages freezing seconds after stepping outside. I even know extreme cold on a first-name basis, “The Hawk.” This was the name given to the biting arctic wind that would reach around street corners in downtown Chicago and fly off with the breath from your chest clutched between its icy talons. Sound painful? It is.

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Pyeongchang 2018: Up The Course

001_upthecourse_021118Matt Graham (AUS) during mens’ moguls freestyle skiing moguls qualification during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Phoenix Snow Park.

Prior to joining the ranks of Olympics photographers, I recall reading hallowed tales from other shooters about what a grind the schedule was. The Summer Olympics was said to be the creme de la creme of punishment and physical tumult in the name of storytelling and all things visual. If you enjoy getting more than two hours of sleep a night over a three week span, they warned, stay far and clear from wielding a camera there.

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