February 23rd – Day 16 – Sunday

I think they want me out of here – the last two days I have gone to leave the compound, security stops me and asks “are you going home now?”  uh no – I guess it’s because of my rolling bag.  Enjoying one of the last trips on the TM3 to the MPC:

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I had to say good bye to Sean last night – he left this afternoon.  That was a bummer.  It is fun hanging out with other and figuring out what assignments we could do.  Some people call us (ironically to me) orphans of the Olympics.  Those photographers that are alone and trying their best to supply their paper with images matching what our reporters and columnists are doing.  Sean is one, with the San Diego Union Tribune, so is Mark Rightmire from Orange County Register, Aaron Ontiveroz from the Denver Post, Carlos Gonzalez from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Mark Reis from the Colorado Springs Gazette and Chris Detrick from Salt Lake City Tribune, those are the ones I can name off hand – I’m sure there are a few more.  Most other papers here either have more than one (rare – like the NY Times) or else they are here for their parent company – like McClatchy or none at all.

Today is my last day of real shooting.  Men’s Gold medal hockey game and then the Closing Ceremony.  In Vancouver I was able to do the Men’s Four-man Bobsled race in the morning (USA won gold), then the Gold medal game (between the US and Canada – Canada won) and then the closing ceremony.  It was not possible to do all three due to the timing – bummer, I had to give up the bobsled.  As it was it was going to be tight to do the Gold medal game at 4:00 p.m. and the closing ceremony at 8:00 p.m., plus we heard a rumor that they wanted us in our spots by 7:00 p.m.  Closing is in Fisht Olympic Stadium, very close to the Bolshoy, so that is good – but the Bronze medal game, including the medal ceremony took 2 hours and 45 minutes.  Yes some events do have the medal ceremony right afterwards, but the majority have their medal ceremony the next day at the Olympic Park.

After grabbing the beef and mushrooms I headed over the Bolshoy a few hours early.  I signed up for a spot on the ice, didn’t seem to be that busy on the ice, most photographers were going overhead.  We mostly cared about the two San Jose Sharks players that were playing on Canada’s team – Marleau and Vlassic.

I talked with Aaron Ontiveroz, from the Denver Post, we were talking about how the last few days were not very conducive to making interesting pictures – we’re covering events, like hockey, that we cover all of time.  Covering events we haven’t, or at least rarely cover, in new and fresh places is definitely more favorable to making interesting images then events that we cover all of the time.

Wow that was the most boring hockey game and the worst (non) jube ever.  I’ve seen more excitement after a regular season game.  Very anticlimactic.  Canada won 3-0 and did very little jube – I’ve seen more excitement from a regular season game!

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Marleau with his Gold medal:

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I saw Aaron after the medal ceremony and told him I was going right to the stadium because I wanted to make sure we could still get in.  It was about 6:55 p.m., so luckily the game went quickly.  No one I talked with before the game could tell me how we could get into Fisht.  So we left Bolshoy and started walking – one bus came buy – this is what it looked like – packed the gills.IMG_0984

Off we went, not knowing where to go.  We went to one entrance and were pointed to the right, we went to the right and got about 100 feet and were pointed to another direction, basically back to where we came from.  So we walked back to the bus stop and I asked a transportation person if she knew when the next bus was coming “I think not.”  Okay “do you know how we can get to Fisht” – shoulder shrug.  There was one other entrance worth trying, we got there and a security guard was not letting a Canadian through, I said excuse me and he didn’t budge, so I showed the security guy our ticket and credential and he waved us through and I moved the Canadian over, he said “you don’t have to push” – well you don’t have to stand like a road block and not move!  We got through there, hit another check point, then a security check, we were now on the Olympic Park, went to the closest entrance to the stadium, Entrance C – they said to go to entrance A.  We got to entrance A and had to go through security one more time – we had to scan our ticket and our credential – you can see here, even though it’s a little blurry iPhone pic, that once you scan your credential your picture shows up on the other side so that security can check to see if that really is you!  That’s Aaron, center, making his way through:IMG_0987

Luckily I had been there for the Opening Ceremony so I knew exactly where to go – Aaron was in the A shooting position and I was in the B position, basically they are next to each other.  I got the spot and there were still a bunch of seats open.  There was some weird guy with an iPhone and some wide angle attachment sitting in a great spot, I pointed that I wanted to sit there but the photo manager person wouldn’t move them.  It was odd because only photographers with sleeves were supposed to be allowed in that area – must have been a friend of the person in charge of that area.

A few people showed up AFTER the Closing Ceremony started, but everyone was annoyed, I’m glad we got there as soon as we could.

The show was okay – it was super dark and sometimes not terribly visual.  There were times I was just sitting watching because there was nothing to shoot!IMG_0994 ssjm0224olympics046 ssjm0224olympics048 ssjm0224olympics050 ssjm0224olympics053 ssjm0224olympics071

I saw Paul and we agreed that we wanted to go out and shoot fireworks at some point – so I figured that I’d do that after the Korean show, even though we agreed to that beforehand Paul, Dan and Mark headed out before their show.  I waited, figured it was important to get the next host country.  As soon as that was over I booked out.  We had figured it would probably be a good spot in front of the figs arena because it’s somewhat elevated over Fisht.  The bad part is it was a good haul over, the area in front of the flame was close of course so I had to go around.  I figured the fireworks would start going off shortly after I got outside, but I got around with plenty of time found the three guys and looked for a good spot.  We were kinda hoping that the fireworks would go off before they extinguished the flame – but no such luck.
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I had a ton of editing to do afterwards because I had the hockey game (I did a little editing before the start of the Closing Ceremony) and then the Closing Ceremony.  I tried to get the beef and mushrooms but they didn’t have it in the cafeteria a- so McDonald’s – I couldn’t decide what to eat, got a cheeseburger, chicken mcnuggets, a salad and fries… I didn’t get the salad or cheeseburger.  I did edit quickly though and was able to catch the 2:00 a.m. bus.  Went back to the same place, the Wine Bar – it’s near Paul and Scott’s place, which is the second stop off the TM3 bus, a five or ten minute walk.  I was starving and there was this little food cart outside – I got a shawarma, it was great – maybe because I was hungry or maybe because I didn’t have any good food in a while – but I chomped that thing down as Russians celebrated and danced and sang Karaoke.  IMG_0997Normally during the Closing Ceremony I get a little sentimental – it’s just a crazy experience, a ton of work and I’m always relieved that I made it through.  This time I had no feelings at closing – I was just happy it was over.  This one was a lot of work, it feels like more than in the past.  But as always, I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to be here and I always try and do the best work I can under difficult conditions.

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