As the historic winter in Boston, Massachusetts, continued its pounding snowfall (currently less than 2 inches (5 cm) away from the greatest winter snowfall total ever!) what better assignment than to head to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado with an experienced team of epa photographers to cover the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2015 in Vail and Beaver Creek, Colorado!
epa San Francisco, USA staff photographer John Mabanglo, epa Sofia, Bulgaria staff photographer Vassil Donev and I who all were part of epa’s FIS Alpine World Ski Championships coverage team in Rosa Khutor during the Sochi Olympics were joined by epa Salt Lake City stringer George Frey for coverage of the more than 2-week-long event featuring men’s and women’s events including Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom, Slalom and a Nations Cup event to name a few.
Several epa member agencies including dpa, APA and Keystone also had photographers covering the event.
John Mabanglo and I arrived in late January to work on the technical arrangements and set up. For starters, with an event of this magnitude, epa direct validates coverage of the event. The editor on site (me!) has hardware and software which allows me to edit and caption the photographers images and directly put those images into the epa system, rather than sending them first to editors in Frankfurt, Germany for processing and validation into the system and distribution to epa’s clients. This allows for a faster delivery of the images to clients and allows one on-site editor to deal with the considerable number of images over the course of such an event (in this case this was many thousands of transmits) and allows the desk operation to concentrate on the daily production from all over the world.
As is the case in most major events epa covers, the rapid delivery of images from photographers to an editor is a must. While epa ran hard lines from the editors to several photo positions in Rosa Khutor during the Sochi Olympics, in this case we were not able to do so and had to find solutions for near real-time delivery. The finish line main position was cabled by the organizers on-site and we were able to work with the techs at Safari Telecom to set up our line to drop directly to me in the media center. Filing from photo positions up on the mountain on the Birds of Prey and Raptor courses is of course much more challenging. As we learned with great happiness, the organizers were also able to arrange for some new cell towers to be installed by some of the major mobile phone companies and the 4G/LTE signals on site were excellent. Through the entire event, our photographers shooting from the course were able to file quite rapidly using MiFis on those 4G/LTE networks to nearly in real-time transmit images of skiers in action during the multitude of races.
Francis Bompard was chosen as the Photo Chief by Vail/Beaver Creek 2015 and working with Francis was an absolute joy! All of us had also worked with Francis a year ago as he was also the Photo Chief at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center during the Sochi Olympics. Not enough can be said about working with a chief who is a photographer, knows what photographers need and knows how to walk the line between photographers, organizers and safety rules and make everyone happy!
Thankfully, the weather cooperated during virtually the entire event and there were almost no cancellations or postponements. The days were long with a men’s or women’s event every day on the mountain followed by a medal ceremony down in Vail Village every night. Probably the worst weather of the two weeks was during the second and final run of the Men’s Slalom on the final day of the event were heavy snow made it difficult to see some of the competitors even from a short distance!
While any event more than two weeks long does start to become a grind, especially with a 6 am alarm clock every morning, any job is that much more enjoyable with a talented and hard-working team and a technical side that goes off flawlessly! We were able to rent condos as well for the duration of the event which allowed us to cook at home almost every night, a great way to spend time with colleagues and bring down food costs too!
The event was great and we wish the best to the epa team covering the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.