Behind the scenes: Winter Olympics

March 5, 2010

The 2010 Olympics in Vancouver presented some rarely seen challenges for Reuters photographers on assignment at the winter games.

Rain! Rain! And more rain!

Photographer Mark Blinch waits to shoot Olympic action. REUTERS/Andre Forget/QMI agency

Cypress Mountain, the home of snowboarding and freestyle skiing was quite possibly the worst Olympic venue of all time. Photographers were confronted with rain, fog and constantly shifting photo positions. As the snow melted positions became useless and had to be changed. Communications failed in the wet and the organizers moved snow from the finish area to other parts of the course to keep the events moving. Despite the trying conditions some wonderful pictures were made. Highlights included Alexandre Bilodeau, winning Canada’s first ever gold medal on home soil and the dazzling Shaun White in the halfpipe.

Shaun White of the U.S. celebrates in the finish area after his first run in the men’s halfpipe finals on Cypress Mountain at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, February 17, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Men’s hockey was a special challenge for the Reuters photo team. The pressure on us to produce was immense as was the pressure on the Canadian team to rebound from a poor showing in Turin and take the hockey mad nation of Canada to nirvana.

We hung four cameras in the roof of the rink, two directly over the nets and two at center ice looking back into the nets. Special thanks to the arena crew who decided to test the giant air horn used when goals are scored while we were right next to it. Thirty stories above the ice — on a narrow catwalk. Luckily, none of the things we were holding left our hands as we jumped three feet in the air.

The team spent two weeks covering game after game and practice after practice. Molly Riley, taking a break from her duties of processing and transmitting the pictures to the world got out to the rink to cover a couple games and got hit in the head with a puck.

Vancouver Olympics Ice Hockey
Molly Riley receives a hit to the head during hockey game. AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Three stitches later she was back on the job. Canada’s team, after some early struggles, finally found their mojo, coming out hard against their historic rivals Russia. Despite a slight misstep against Slovakia, Canada advanced to the gold medal game against the U.S.

Canadian fans celebrate after Canada scored the winning goal in their men’s ice hockey gold medal game against the U.S. during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 28, 2010. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Hockey fans filled Robson Square and every bar in Vancouver to watch the game and the roar of the hosers could be heard for a mile when Canada opened the scoring in the second period. The U.S. tied the game in the dying seconds to force overtime and young star Sidney Crosby cemented his place in history, Canadian history at least, with a quick shot that beat U.S. goalie Ryan Miller on the short side.

Canada’s Sidney Crosby celebrates with teammates Scott Niedermayer (L) and Drew Doughty after scoring the game winning goal against the U.S. during overtime in their men’s ice hockey gold medal game at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 28, 2010. REUTERS/Todd Korol

From start to finish, I looked at over 120,000 hockey images, topping out with almost 14,000 from the gold medal game. Five photographers and six remote cameras had the game covered from almost every angle and they left me with blurry eyes but sharp pictures. Technical problems were overcome with quick solutions and the pictures moved to the clients, processed and captioned impeccably by the hard working team of Molly and Edgar Su.

Over at the Richmond Oval, our speedskating expert Jerry Lampen and his sharpshooting sidekick Dylan Martinez kept the laughs and the exclusives coming, the best of which was Jerry’s picture of Sven Kramer’s coach pointing at him to change lanes at the wrong time, a decision which lost Kramer a gold medal.

Sven Kramer of the Netherlands competes in the men’s 10,000 metres speed skating race at the Richmond Olympic Oval during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, February 23, 2010. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

The biathlon venue was another wet one, where the team of Kai Pffaffenbach, Stefan Wermuth and Michael Dalder were forced to work in a tent bowed by the rain. They managed to find some time for some happy snaps.

Photographer Kai Pffaffenbach (C) crosses the finish line at the biathlon venue. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Figure skating had both weird and heartwarming stories. U.S. skater Johnny Weir wearing a crown of roses after his routine and Canada’s Joannie Rochette performing just days after the death of her mother. Rochette put together two great routines and won the bronze looking to heaven as she finished her long program. I leave it to you to decide what was the weird story. These and other figure skating stories were all edited by Tom Szlukovenyi.

A combination photo shows Joannie Rochette of Canada (L) and Johnny Weir of the U.S. reacting. REUTERS/David Gray (L) and Lucy Nicholson

These are just some of the stories that Reuters photographers covered at the Olympics in Vancouver. Sure there was grumbling about the weather, the long hours, the cramped accommodations, but you know? We would all be bummed if we didn’t get to go.

London here we come!


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Posted by » Blog Archive » Reuters Photographers Blog : Behind the scenes: Winter Olympics | Report as abusive

Congrats to the Reuters photo team for the great coverage of the winter Olympics!


Posted by Photoluc | Report as abusive

Well done on your coverage – you have done a brilliant job!


Posted by Olliet88 | Report as abusive