Rosa Khutor, Russia

By Fabrizio Bensch

It must take a lot of courage for bobsleigh, skeleton and luge competitors to hurl themselves at mega speeds down the 1,365-meter ice track at the Sanki Sliding Center. It looks crazy – would you do it?

Sanki is one of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic venues, where some of the world’s best athletes compete for glory. The venue is some 60 km (37 miles) northeast of Sochi in the “mountain cluster” of Olympic venues.

Throughout the Games, my photography colleagues Arnd Wiegmann from Switzerland, Murad Sezer from Turkey and myself have been getting up in the early hours of the morning to start what is normally a 14-hour day. We travel to the venue using a cable car and cover everything from the training sessions in the morning to the competitions in the evening.

I love being so close to the track and shooting pictures that tell stories of success and failure, dreams and defeat. Minutes, seconds and thousandths of a second can decide an athlete’s fate as he or she speeds down the track for bronze, silver or that highly coveted gold medal.

Before the speaker makes his announcement: “Clear the track, clear the track, one minute to the start!”, we photographers have often been in our positions at the starting line for one or two hours, waiting to capture the moment when a luger is adjusting his or her visor and concentrating on the run. We always try to find the best possible angle to show how spectacular and fast-paced the ice-track sports are.