This marks my third year covering the Audi FIS Ski Cross at Blue Mountain. It’s been incredible to watch this event grow, from a media perspective, and finally start to get some of the exposure it needs and deserves. Three years ago, I was one of only a handful of photographers covering the race. This year, Reuters, Canadian Press and at least 50 other shooters were present. This is a made for TV production but it’s nice to see the print and web mediums get on-board as well. Olympic, World Cup and X-Games medalists are competing right here at Blue. I can’t think of an event of this level in the province and I wouldn’t dream of missing it. Blue Mountain’s commitment and Canadian athletes on the podium are just part of what is making this event poised for greatness in the years to come.
This race is actually one of the more difficult events I cover. Very limited course access and only having four riders running side by each on race day makes it a real challenge to capture. Despite these challenges, It’s my job to make it happen and deliver the images my clients are after. I have become pretty good at overcoming adversity on assignments and have a solid strategy in place to ensure I get what I need. Mild weather made this year’s event comfortable to shoot but I was once again plagued with overcast skies. Even though sunshine was forecasted each day, it never showed itself. I’ve become accustomed to this and have learned to find ways to make it work to my advantage. I used the soft diffused light to help make colours ‘pop’. I also shoot tight, not exposing the grey skies beyond. The lack of snow this year was also something I had to factor into my composition. Nobody wants to see a brown backdrop for a ski race.
I am a Nikon shooter and a member of Nikon Professional Services (NPS). This year, they asked me to put them in contact with Blue in the hopes that they could come and offer their support program during the event. This support includes lens loaners and cleaning services for their members. They offer this service at large events like the Olympics and it was an honor to have them here for the race. They went above and beyond the call of duty for this event and provided their support to all Nikon shooters, not just NPS members. It was nice to see my fellow Nikonians getting a helping hand.
Here are some images from the event.
For the finals, I was stuck well up the hill in a less than ideal location. The shot I was after was of the finish line jump with the crowd in the background. There simply wasn’t a way for me to get into the position I needed to be in to get this shot. Once the race started I was locked into the one section I was in. There were a few angles I could work from there but I was determined to get the shot I had envisioned. The longest glass I had in my bag was a 400mm f/2.8. This lens is plenty long on most days but it came up short for my needs on this day. To get the shot I wanted, I tossed on my TC-20E teleconverter which got me out to 800mm. It was a Hail Mary play for sure but it worked and I actually love the shot. It enabled me to capture one of the most memorable finishes in Ski Cross. You can see in the first shot of Marielle, which was shot with my 70-200mm, just how much further down I had to reach to get the finish in the second shot with Brady and Del. Shooters notes: Handheld, VR off, 1/1000th @ f10.
The Saturday following the big race, Blue Mountain hosted the first ever game of shinny between the Canadian Ski Cross and Snowboard Cross teams on the pond in the village. This was genius on their part and is just another way to showcase these two great events hosted at Blue.
Huge thanks to Paul, Kevin, Colin, Erika, Dak, Jason, Peter and the amazing team at Blue. Thanks also to Audi, FIS and all the athletes involved. As always, I couldn’t have done it without the help of Amanda, Jeffrey, Paul and the fine folks at Nikon Canada who keep me shooting.
I’m off to shoot in the park now and look forward to doing it all over for the Snowboard Cross in a few days.