An Addendum

March 27, 2010

So for all of you who would like to see/read other 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics blogs here are a bunch (these are the ones I could remember – if you see one that’s not on this list I can add a link – just drop me a note) – Some of these blogs are not dedicated specifically to the Olympics, so you might have to scroll back a few pages… these are in no particular order, though the first two you should check out for sure…

Sol Neelman:  http://www.solneelman.com/blog/

Robert Gauthier (LA Times):  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/photography/la-sp-olympics-2010-photographers,0,7243907.htmlstory

Don Feria:  http://negativetwoandaquarter.blogspot.com/

Donald Miralle:  http://donaldmiralle.wordpress.com/

John Leyba (Denver Post):  http://leybapix.blogspot.com/

Trent Nelson (Salt Lake City Tribune):  http://www.trenthead.com/page/2/

Dan Mears (Detroit News) – mixed in with reporters blogs:  http://apps.detnews.com/apps/blogs/olympicsblog/index.php

Brian Peterson (Minnapolis Star Tribune) – not a blog but a photo gallery:  http://www.startribune.com/sports/olympics/85533147.html?elr=KArksi8cyaiUg7Kk8P3iUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU

and of course if you browse around Sportsshooter you’ll find some stuff:

One last thank you to the staff at the Mercury News – they gave me a nice send off and sent me nice messages throughout… Karen, Jim, Gary, Josie, Dai, Maria, LiPo, Pauline and of course my golf buddy Patrick Tehan who sent me odd and funny notes throughout – thank you!

Oh yea and thank you to Don for driving a couple of bags up to Vancouver!

It’s a Wrap

March 26, 2010

It’s nearly a month after the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and I’m finally done with this blog!  This was my first Winter Olympics (third overall) and there were a lot of positive points.  It was a lot more work than I thought it was going to be.  Everyone I talked with beforehand was saying it was going to be easier, if I had just stayed in Vancouver or just stayed in Whistler I would have agreed.  But I had six trips up there and seven 20 hour days.  It felt like I spent the same amount of time out and about as I did during the summer Olympics but I shot a lot less.  I’ve been sick for the last month, luckily it didn’t manifest itself until after I got back because there’s no way I could have done that grueling schedule while being sick.

One of the best parts about this Olympics was being able to hangout with friends and make new ones.  In the past being cloistered away in the media housing with little food and drinks nearby meant typically going back to the room at the end of the day.  I was able to go out with friends for dinner most every night – usually with John Leyba, Kevin Sullivan, Robert Gauthier, Don Feria, Paul Kitagaki, Paul Chinn, et al.  I was also able to have visitors, my cousin Angie and her friend, Don crashed at the hotel and my coworker and bf Josie Lepe spent time in Vancouver.  However my blog suffered because instead of heading back and working on it I’d go out for dinner and/or drinks.

From left to right, John Leyba (Denver Post), Wally Skalij (LA Times), Paul Kitagaki (Zuma Press) and me at the finish line at Whistler Creekside (John is holding Paul’s camera on a monopod for this group portrait).

Canada is great, it doesn’t feel like a foreign country.  Hopefully this isn’t offensive to Canadians, but it feels just like the States – heck they have the same stores, Sears, Costco, etc.  Being in the same time zone was awesome – I didn’t have to figure out what time it was back in the office – there was no jet lag.  Everyone spoke English so there was no language barrier.  The US dollar was pretty much exactly the same as the – yes this is bad – but it was good because I didn’t have to figure out how much I was spending.

Don on a shuttle.

Canadians were all super nice – even the police officers were super nice.  One time when Kevin and I were heading to get a cab from Canada Hockey place we were trying to cross the street and we didn’t make it, a police officer manning the street started joking with us that we shouldn’t have hesitated and we should have just gone then he put on a fake mustache and started talking in an accent.  It was totally surreal – I’m used to, not mean, but definitely not personable police officers.  The volunteers – aka Smurfs because of their blue outfits – were all very nice and helpful.

Overall food was great… since we didn’t have to rely on food from the IOC.  But even the food in the arenas was 10x better than it was in Beijing or Greece.  But having options was huge.  Having the option of room service was also huge – I had that several times.  It was good that Josie came up because right after I got to Vancouver my computer started acting weird (see pic below) – at first it would only last a few seconds, but as time went along it would take a couple of minutes to clear up – towards the end when she showed up it would take 5-10 minutes for the screen to work properly – that was getting stressful!

The hotel room was awesome – see first blog post, so much nicer than Greece where the room was teeny-tiny and I had to share a bathroom.

Other nice memories:  Kevin’s pizza injury, I’m glad I never had to shoot curling.  Saw some friends from years ago, Gerry Broome – he works for AP now he was at the third paper I interned at, Jim Collins he also works for AP now he worked as a picture editor at the Virginian-Pilot when I was there.  I ran into Caroline Couig a former picture editor at the Merc.  And many others I’m sure I’m forgetting about now.

Big thank you’s to John Mabanglo, Gary Reyes, Jed Jacobsohn, and Eric Fowles for helping me with what I needed to bring and buy as far as winter gear.  I saw Jed a week before I left and he told me to bring the 500 f4 – a lens I hadn’t even thought about – I used that lens just about every day!  Thanks Jed!

My locker 680.

Big thank you’s to ThinkTankPhoto for helping me with a backpack, the Loki jacket I got was awesome, Swany gloves worked great.

Big thank you’s to Linda the master telecommer at the paper for setting up my iPhone for data use there – I used that thing everyday, there was an Olympics app which had the schedule on it that was indispensable, I used it every day a gillion times a day!  It not only had the schedule but it also had rosters, results, profiles, etc.

Big thank you to Josie for getting me what I needed.  Big thank you to Keeble and Shuchat for renting me a Mark IV (since we can’t buy one).  Big thank you to my former boss Geri Migielicz for asking me if I wanted to go to Vancouver and my current my boss Michael Malone for his support.

A big thank you to picture editor Jami – and all of those faceless designers back at the paper – like Ryan Lambert and Mike Mayer – here is a small sampling of the many pages which included my images:

Big thank you to Elliott Almond and Mark Purdy for their and guidance and Mark Conley for being the editor in San Jose.

Big thank you to my kitty sitters – Josie, Nol, Huyen and Linda for keeping little Whitie company.

And finally a big thank you to my Mom and stepdad for their constant support.

The last day I was there , March 1st, was my 10 year anniversary at the Merc; Josie, Kevin and I hung out, went shopping throughout town, including Granville Island.  Had a Japadog – that was good – Japanese style hotdog from a street vender that is super popular.  We met Don, Robert, Scott, Jed and a smurf for dinner at a Japanese restaurant called Guu – it was good – Josie, Don, Robert and I grabbed dessert at Denny’s after dinner, I had a rootbeer float.  It was a great finish to our trip and a great way to spend my ten year anniversary.

PS on the flight out USA hockey silver medalist Kerry Weiland was on our flight!  That medal was heavy and I was scared – I didn’t want to drop it!  She was super nice and let everyone take their picture with her.  Photo by Josie at SeaTac.

Last Day!

February 28, 2010

Woke up early to head to USA versus Canada… got there at about 8:15 mainly because I wanted to make sure I had a decent spot but I also figured I’d throw up a remote.  I put it over the US goalie.  There was a pretty big line at security, they decided, for the first time and without warning that they were going to check every single bag and wand every single person at the media entrance.  There was quite a large line and we were there more than four hours early.

Went up into the rafters and put up the remote, lots of space up there!  After I put up the remote we looked outside and saw that the line for security was huge, i mean ridiculously long, plus there was only one xray machine – so it looked like a 45-60 minutes wait to get through security!  Glad I got there early!  See pic below – above security line you can see light-rail stop.

After dealing with the remote I dropped some gear on a seat next to John Leyba in the b section.  Gerry McCarthy and Kyle Terada were also in my row.  Doug Mills from the NYT was sitting to my left.  I brought my computer with me because I didn’t want to waste time running back and forth.  so I downloaded disks in-between periods.  After ditching my stuff I ate a philly cheese steak before the game, glad I did because I wouldn’t have time to eat anything else until the end of the night.

The game was awesome, best hockey game I have ever been at by far (although the pictures were far from the best).  The fans were a little less crazy than I thought they were going to be.  Maybe it was like the superbowl where the true fans sell their tickets.  I hear some tickets were going for several thousand dollars and way up (depending where of course).  Yikes.

It was funny before the game Kevin Sullivan was pissed he was stuck in C – which is behind the bench and would typically not be an ideal place (because it’s good to see the bench, especially at end of the game because they all come streaming out of the bench) but his spot and one specific ice spot ended up being the place to be.  Our safe spot in B was kinda hosed – after Crosby scored the game winning goal (which I sorta had) he spun around and skated into the corner and then jubed… we couldn’t see much at that point.  There were only three photographers on the ice in the right spot that got the pic, of course Robert from the LA Times chose right, John Lok from Seattle Times was there and Larry Smith from EPA.  I don’t feel bad about not being on the ice, I mean I wish I had, and obviously I would have loved to have been in that spot but I would have chosen the side to the right of Robert – which would have been the wrong side anyways.

After the game we scanned quickly, might not have done the best edit, but since the game went into overtime we had little time to make it over to closing ceremonies which, luckily was right next door in BC Place.  It was still a 15-20 minute walk but it wouldn’t have been possible if we had had to actually go somewhere else.

I also had to go back up to the rafters and retrive the remote.  I was pretty pissed off about my remote, when I was installing it I asked someone whether or not the light that was on was the same during the game – granted it was my fault for waiting until the last day to put a remote up but still – they said it was the same even though it seemed darker to me… well it wasn’t the same and all my remote pics were worthless because they were about two stops too bright.  oh well, I also a had the remote over the wrong goal.

About an hour after the game ended we bolted and headed next door to BC Place for Closing Ceremonies.  Walked over with Dan Mears from the Detroit News, Kevin Sullivan and Gerry McCarthy.  It was realitvely easy to walk over there kinda of surprisingly easy, but had to lug roller up a bunch of stairs and walk around to the other side of the stadium.  Ditched my stuff in a locker and headed to my position.

I headed to my spot – B – found a friendly face when I walked in sitting on the aisle at the top of the B section, Don Feria, so I crammed in next to him.  I got there a about 30 minutes before it started, at about 5:00 – several people had arrived at 1!  Several people arrived after the ceremonies had started.  Closing, super boring, closing’s are very anticlimactic, and this one seemed to take forever too.

It was actually great timing to run into Don cause I figured I could drop my roller off with him (remember he was nice enough to drive that and a backpack up for me).  Afterwards he headed back to the MPC to pack up and I went to the media room and transmitted next to Paul Kitagaki.  When I was done I headed out to the light rail station and went back to the Waterfront station.  I met Don there and we took the Canada light rail line back to the King Edward stop, Don had left his car there.

There we met Josie and reporter Elliott Almond.  We all piled into Don’s Mini Cooper and headed to Denman Street.  We went to a Japanese restaurant named Kingyo.  They stopped serving food at 11:30 and we got there at 11:20 so we had to order a lot of food.  We ordered some extra because Robert was heading over from the MPC.  Food was really good, wish we could have ordered some more.  After all the food was gone a couple of Zuma press guys – Jed Conklin and Patrick Fallon headed in- so they could only eat what was left.  After dinner Don was nice enough to drive us all back to the Radisson.  Ended up not giving him my stuff because we figured we go to dinner the next night…  I always make sure to not leave the day after, one because I want one day to decompress and two because the airport is super nuts the day afterwards.

Ski-Bob

February 27, 2010

I honestly thought I wasn’t going back to Whistler – but there I was on that 7:00 am bus.  It was my Sixth and definitely final trip to Whistler since there was only one day after today.  As usual, got up at 5:30, caught the 6:06 light rail, arrived at MPC around 6:35, went to locker, yogurt, 7 am shuttle.  Actually today was a bit of a treat, if Canada or the USA had lost in hockey yesterday then I’d have been stuck shooting the bronze medal match.  Instead it was Finland vs Slovakia and that had little interest to us.  It was snowing and semi-cold.  Luckily I had remembered to bring my rain cover – there were very few photographers too, I didn’t recognize any other US photographers by my spot, maybe they all knew nothing was going to happen.

I headed up to Creekside on the off chance that Bode Miller might collect another medal in the Men’s Slalom – well he flamed out after three turns, the only other person we cared about Ted Ligety went right before Bode and he also didn’t finish.  I waited until they both skied down and skied off the course so that I would have some sort of picture of them.  If Bode was in contention then John Leyba was going to head over for the second run at 1:45 – but since he didn’t I sent him a text to head over to Men’s Bobsleigh – the other big story going on.

After about 30 racers I took off and headed to the bus.  I was stressing about the positions at bobsled cause everyone I talked with said they were going to head up for that race, I ran into Wally on the shuttle over there and he had the great idea of going straight up to the finish line and putting out stuff down to mark our spot.  Five shuttles later we were at the finish line.

There are two finish line positions, one that looks directly on, kinda of far away, and one that is right up on the side of the finish line.  We both chose the later because we figured we’d have more of a chance at getting jube that way then but being up top.  I had shot from that straight on position before when I was at the luge and as soon as they leave the ice it’s totally blocked.  The spot is super narrow and tough to move around.

Even though it wasn’t too busy we were still worried about our spots, so I wanted to head back to the media center and Wally offered to watch the spot… so in turn I took his Nikon 400 f2.8 back, man that thing is big, I thought it was the Nikon 600 until I looked at the lens.  I downloaded some disks, got some water, I ran into Chang Lee from the NYT and talked to him about some of the positions beforehand.  Then headed back.  There were two runs down the track – so we talked with the photo dudes and asked them to keep an eye on our stuff and we headed over to turn 11 – which is super close to the finish line.

We shot the first heat (heat 3) from that turn and then booked back to the finish line.  Well apparently the :everyone I talked with” said that they were going bobsled went, but no one else did, it was surprisingly not busy at all.  I saw Paul Chinn and John Leyba at the other finish line spot, Wally, Trent Nelson and I were down in the little pit area – there were a bunch of other photographers but either I didn’t know them or they were foreigners.  were up The jube was pretty good, not great, but good, we were worried we were going to get blocked because there was so much going on.  Being short in that position kinda sucked because the taller people leaned over the track and blocked me… oh well.

It was cool to be there, it was the first time in something like 60 years that the US had won in four man bobsleigh.  One other cool story was when the Canadian team finished (before the US) – one of the bobsledders took off his helmet and handed to it to a guy with his shirt off and yelled at him “PUT IT ON – PUT IT ON!” and then left – the picture wasn’t that great but it was a funny.  The guy was super psyched.

Afterwards, headed back down, two shuttles and the bus ride back to the MPC.  They wanted our lockers cleaned out by Sunday night, I wasn’t sure if I’d be back to the MPC after closing ceremonies tomorrow so I cleaned it out.  Luckily I had already been taking stuff back to the room periodically because at one point the locker was packed so I only had to bring back my ThinkThankPhoto roller and backpack full of gear.

I met Josie near Lions Pub and we cabbed it back and had room service – it was way too crazy downtown!  The poor cab driver got a flat tire about 3/4 of the way to the hotel, luckily he went to the hotel instead of stopping right away because there wasn’t much around.  I was bushed and we just got room service.

Guess What? Hockey!

February 26, 2010

A couple of semi-final hockey games today.  USA vs Finland was up first.  I decided to shoot the first period down low, so far the US had been shooting to the right goal (from the media area) for all of their games, I had gotten there early and marked a spot down there.  I should have checked during warm-ups to see which way they were going but I forgot.  I headed out about 10 minutes before the game was about to start and sat down only to see them going the other direction.  I could have stayed and pretended like I knew what I was doing but I swallowed my pride and told the wire dudes that I had sat in-between that I had gone to the wrong side.

But check this out, this is kinda crazy, as I was leaving a little frantic cause I was so late and Asian guy stops me and says “are you Nhat?”  I didn’t recognize the dude so i said “uh yea” – and he said “you might not remember me but you took my picture with a cutout of Yao Ming in Oakland” (this was in 2002 – I dug up the picture below) – I actually remembered him immediately (at least taking the picture) – didn’t remember his name had to look it up – Aaron Lim.  He was nice cause he said he looks for my name in the paper.

It was weird though because I was worried that the other side would be busy but it was basically empty.  It was good I decided to head over to the other side because the first period was all the US needed – they scored 6 goals in the first – even had one of our Sharks players on the USA team in one of the celebration pics (just his back though).  It was nice to have six chances at goal celebrations because I only had three of them, the rest I was either blocked or just missed them or unusable because of the glass.  in the first period, so the second and third were quite boring.

Josie had a ticket to his game, after the game I went up to the stands and said hello.  It was neat to have the games so close to the States because I’d run into people – the first week I ran into a former picture editor at the Merc – Caroline Couig.  My friend Jessica was there with her fiancé though I never happened to be at the same event.

There was a four hour break before the next game (Canada versus Slovakia) so I went to lunch with Kevin, John, Larry Smith and a Serbian guy named Suki.  We went to some diner type place nearby and had poor service again, food wasn’t so great either – I wanted lasagna but they were out so I got melted cheese on spaghetti – it was okay.  After lunch Kevin had to run into costco cause he was running out of space on his hard drive, they had close about 15 minutes before but was able to beg his way in, hard drive space is important!

Next up was the Canada vs Slovakia game.  This game was ticketed so I was up top in B.  We all thought it would be like the USA game where it was a blowout, and it looked like it was going to be one, but in the third it was 3-2 and Slovakia had gotten really close to scoring the tying goal.  Of couse they didn’t make it but it did end up being a close game.

After hockey we met Josie at the same intersection and Kevin talked us into heading to his neighborhood we ended up going to a swanky place called The Keg – really good food (close to where we went drinking a couple of nights ago).  It was Friday night and a little nuts but the Keg was a little off the beaten path.  John joined us for dinner.  Afterwards Josie and I grabbed a cab back to the Radisson.

Well I said it would have to be a miracle for me not to get sick, and today I was starting to feel it in my stomach and I also have a sore throat.  I’m just hoping I can hold on a couple more days.

More Hockey

February 25, 2010

The first game I was supposed to cover wasn’t until 3:30 today (!), but Purdy was able to reserve a time to talk with the USA equipment manager – who is also the Sharks equipment manager.  So we arrived at Canada Hockey Place at 10, Purdy talked with him for about 15-20 minutes and I took a pretty unexciting picture of him under the stadium.  It was a little annoying because there was an invisible line we were not allowed to cross with a security guy standing there – I asked if I could take the guys picture five feet on the other side of the imaginary line because the light was a teeny bit better but he wouldn’t allow it.  People are definitely very unflexable here.

The Women’s bronze medal match started at 11 – didn’t really need to cover that game so I didn’t, but I figured I’d go out and shoot the last few minutes of the jube at the end of the game.  I talked John Leyba into going out with me, the pictures were pretty decent.

Afterwards Shot the hockey gold medal match.  Canada ended up winning 2-0.  I shot the first two periods (from the same side – US coming at me first and then Canada) from the ice and the third up top.  The Canadian goalie was crazy good.

After hockey we had to boogie over to figure skating, so we transmitted for about 40 minutes and then we booked it outside.  John had already left so Kevin, Paul and I grabbed a cab (it made much more sense than taking the media shuttle back to the MPC and the shuttle to Pacific Coliseum).  We walked out of the stadium and took the elevator by Costco up to the street and looked for a cab, we flagged one down just outside of the light rail.  Kevin was hungry so we swung by Burger King on the way in.  Once we got there we finished transmitting the hockey images.

Before we left Canada Hockey Place we heard that some Korean and Japanese photographers stayed overnight in order to get an ice spot!?!  Many US people headed over around 5 or 6 am to try and get ice level.  Donald Miralle blogged about it:  http://donaldmiralle.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/day-14-part-un-an-olympic-travesty/ Originally figure skating was supposed to be ticketed, but then they (the IOC I guess) decided not to ticket, then they decided to ticket just the ice level spots, it was very annoying.  They’ve done that a bunch of times, said an event was ticketed and then at the last minute changed their minds.  It was kinda frustrating because we might have already made the effort to sign up for the ticket (at the USOC which is on the other side of the MPC) and then the next day go back to the USOC to pick-up the ticket and then find out it wasn’t even needed.  I guess not enough people are showing up to get the tickets?

I sat in nearly the same spot I sat for figure skating the other day.  Didn’t seem a whole lot different than the day before.  There was also very little drama – as long as no one really screwed up it seemed as if the standings were pretty set.  After the competition was over I jogged over to the other side so I could see the medal ceremony.



And remember that big hullabaloo about the Canadian hockey players come out and smoking cigars and drinking alcohol after the game on the ice – well I felt bad at first that I had missed it – but then I read that it happened about an hour and a half after the game ended.  There was just no way for me to be there unless I had missed figure skating.  So obviously that didn’t happen the only people that were still there wire photographers.

One of the cool things about this Olympics was that I stayed in a hotel (yea Radisson) – the past two Summer Olympics I stayed in the media housing – basically dorm rooms.  But to get into the media housing you needed to have a media credential.  Since I was staying in a hotel by the airport people didn’t need a credential which meant I could have visitors.  My cousin Angie and her friend stayed with me for five nights, my buddy Don crashed one night and my co-worker and bf Josie crashed with me the last few days I was there.

So after the game Kevin and I met up with Josie just outside of the MPC at the corner of Howe and Cordova.  I accidently gave her the wrong directions to Lions pub – oops.  Anyway, she found us just before the phone died.  This was the first time that there was a line to get into Lions, we waited about 15 minutes and then they let us in – oddly enough the place was nearly empty but I guess they didn’t have a enough people to work.  Some super annoying Canadian fans were sitting behind us and one of them was clanking their cowbell the whole night – ugh.  John came over and joined us a little while after we got there.  Afterwards Josie and I took the light rail back to the hotel…

Shorty

February 24, 2010

Today was probably one of the shortest days for me, two hockey games – USA vs Switzerland and Canada vs Russia.  I was able to sleep in until 9!  Headed out to the arena at about 10.  Going to Canada Hockey Place is kinda nice cause I can just take the light rail there – it was empty and it’s only three stops away (after the light rail from the hotel) on either the Millennium or King George line.  Rolled in late around 11!  John Leyba and I headed to the ice, we shot on the US goal side the first two periods and went up top for the third.  It was actually a kinda close game, the US won by two goals though.

Above, Steve the nice hockey venue manager cleans the glass before the US game…

Not a lot of time in between games but headed out the door to Costco and grabbed a slice of pizza (decent) and some fries and chicken sticks (not good).  When i was there I noticed they had this weird dish called Poutine, okay, gross looking, it’s cheese curds and french fries, perhaps Costco wasn’t a good judge of what Poutine is supposed to look like, but it looked super gross at Costco.

Next up was Canada vs Russia, big game cause it meant whoever lost would not be able to medal.  Everyone thought it’d be close but it was a total blow out 7-3.

This game was ticketed, you literally had to have a ticket.  To get to my spot my ticket (and credential of course) was checked three times!  Just to get from the media area to my seat (which was B – up in the stands) my ticket was checked twice.  Kinda ridiculous but that’s how they did it.  So as much as I hate to stay in one spot for the whole entire game I didn’t have a choice.

So everything was shot overhead, the Sharks goalie who is the Russian goalie had a terrible game and was pulled.  I came up with the brilliant realization that I would be coming back the next several days so I asked for an overnight locker at Canada Hockey Place and they said yes – so I didn’t have to go back to the MPC!  yea.  Afterwards a bunch of us headed to dinner, we got a ride from Scott Mc Kiernan from Zuma Press who had a car and went to a place on Denman St.

It was Scott, Paul, John, Kevin and I.  Unfortunately the place we went had terrible service – top 5 worst ever, took 30 minutes just to talk to a waitress, I was pushing for us to leave, but wasn’t able to get every one to agree, took another 30 minutes to order and get a beer, Paul pushed to leave at that point, but since had already ordered it seemed weird to leave.  After food, we made the terrible decision to get dessert, another 45 minutes, ended up being a 3 hour dinner.  Then we went out for drinks down by Granville St., it was a little crazy so we didn’t drink on Granville but found a pub nearby.  So it was a late night.  Scott was nice enough to drive me back to my hotel.