Monday, January 28, 2013

Kitzbuhel 2013

So that was Kitzbuhel 2013, a hard week, made even harder by having to hike around the course to find positions rather than ski, because of an injury I sustained a couple of weeks ago in St Anton.
Hiking up to the Hausberg Kante... Friggin knackering

As ski races go from our point of view Kitzbuhel is great there are plenty of good photo positions and also a few spots to try and experiment. I always try and experiment on the training days before the race and this year because of the good weather and snow conditions we managed to get all 3 days training in. Alas the first day was mega hard because of a fog bank almost permanently hanging around where I was shooting, but such is life, and with a new version of photoshop to play with I could at least rescue some of the images and make them look a bit better.
Steven Nyman shot before and after playing with Photoshop I like to call it a fog filter!

For the second days training I wanted to shoot the Mausefalle jump which is about 100mtrs from the start and in my opinion friggin scary, it feels like you drop off a cliff, last time I shot this an Austrian skier Hans Grugger crashed and suffered serious head injuries, I was really glad to see him standing at the top of the jump as I arrived but he did have a bit of a "oh shit I aint doing that" look in his eyes!
I shot the jump from the not normal side as a colleague called it!! also for a change I did not shoot a tight crop image, I infact shot on a wide angle lens as I wanted to create a collage using Photoshop to try and show the jump off better.
Aksel Lund Svindal in action

Collage of Steven Nyman doing the Mausefalle jump

For the 3rd training day I was at the Hausberg Kante or the Red Bull jump as you probably know it from TV, this was the first time in a few years where I have had a blue sky jump, the weather Gods were being kind to me that day. It's a blind jump (you dont know when they are coming) and they come at you FAST, so it's not unusual to miss the odd racer or two, I had the extra pressure of capturing the first forerunner namely ex winner Daron Rahlves, luckily I nailed it and also managed to shoot every racer that I needed.
10 years after winning Daron Rahlves is back at Kitzbuhel forerunning. he still fits into his old race suits that's just not fair. he should be fatter after retiring!!

Travis getting some air time

Friday is SuperG day normally the best shot is just above the Hausberg Kante, however the course setters had a different course to normal, so we were all scratching for a new shot, I hiked down to the traverse, which is a small jump that spits the racers out. when I got there I saw ex racer and now US team coach TJ Lanning standing almost in the spot where he crashed and ruined his career, I had hoped all week for this image, as it tells a better story, especially as it was his first time back at Kitzbuhel (I also happened to be shooting that jump when he crashed years ago) The image I captured was even better than I hoped as he was taking a sneaky side glance at the netting where he landed. As images go it is not great but it's probably the one I am most proud of this week.

TJ at his crash site
Aksel Lund Svindal, Mr Nice guy finally gets a win at Kitzbuhel

Saturday is the crazy Hahnenkamm day, downhill racing at it's maddest, I think there were about 400000+ fans mostly drunk or on the way to beingf drunk hiking up and down the course to get a spot to see their heroes. I hiked up to a position outside the course that gives a great angle for the jump after the traverse, again it's a blind jump and also you are a long way away. I was first in lie at the Canon CPS desk so I could borrow their longest lens a 600mm normally I try to get the 800mm but they didnt bring it this year. So for the camera nerds I was hooting with 600mm + a crp factor of 1.3 in camera (1dMk4) which is equivalent to 780mm I also tried using my convertors (1.4) and (x2) but the images were a bit soft as shooting backlit all that extra glass isnt good.
Gettting ready to take a few snaps
The end result Dominik Paris getting some airtime

Sunday is the slalom day and as usual the course was steep and icy as heck, (think ice scating rink at 45 degree angle) there were a few parts where I struggled to get my crampons into the ice!
I found a great position, and was soon joined by almost all the other photographers!! We were standing on the steep of the first pitch for about 2 hours+ which I have previously described as being like standing on a large exercise ball. Your legs really ache after a while. I was shooting manual focus for this shot as it was almost a full framed shot (no cropping needed) I do like the challenge of shooting manual focus, and I managed to get a snap or two of every racer so I was happy I still had the skill!! After the race it's about an 800mtr walk through shin deep stuff that was once snow but has the consistancy of porridge so you are absolutely cream crakered by the time you get back to the press centre.
A speed freak clattering some gates.
Marcel Hirscher on his way to another slalom win.

I am so glad this is now over, and I have a few days to catch up on sleep and give my knee a break before I head off to another mountain and shoot the US team training before we hit the 2013 World Championships.

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