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|| News Item: Posted 2010-03-15

'I was just one of hundreds of photographers fighting for scraps like good photo positions.'
Robert Hanashiro asked members to recount their experiences working solo at the Vancouver Winter Games.

By Trent Nelson, The Salt Lake Tribune

Photo by Trent Nelson / The Salt Lake Tribune

Photo by Trent Nelson / The Salt Lake Tribune

Steven Holcomb's USA-1 sled won the gold medal in Four-Man Bobsled. Left to right: Steven Holcomb, Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler, Curtis Tomasevicz, XXI Olympic Winter Games, Saturday, February 27, 2010.
(Editor's note: USA TODAY staff photographer Robert Hanashiro recently returned home from shooting the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. They were his 12th for the Nation's Newspaper. He has never worked as a "Lone Gunman" at the Olympics - but secretly wishes he had. At least once. He decided to ask some of his friends what it was like last month in Vancouver.)

The dreams kept coming for at least a week after I got home from the Vancouver Olympics. I kept waking up thinking that it was time to get on the bus to Whistler or that I'd arrived at an Olympic venue without any memory cards. After several days I gradually acclimated to home life again and was back to freaking out about the usual things I cover, like polygamy.

Shooting the Vancouver games as the only photographer from my newspaper was drastically different from my previous Winter Olympic experience, the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. In 2002 we were the hometown paper. We knew the venues, we had access to the pool photo positions, and with my colleagues (friends, really) we staffed every event. At every Olympics there are several key moments. If I wasn't there for a key moment in Salt Lake, one of my co-workers nailed it. We produced some great work.

Being a lone wolf in Vancouver meant that I was just one of hundreds of photographers fighting for scraps like good photo positions, precious blue armbands, or a seat on a bus. With the travel times from venue to venue I couldn't expect to cover more than two events in a day. And those key Olympic moments I was talking about? My odds of being there for them seemed slim.

Photo by Trent Nelson / The Salt Lake Tribune

Photo by Trent Nelson / The Salt Lake Tribune

Julia Mancuso, USA, placed ninth, Ladies' Super-G, at the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Whistler, Saturday, February 20, 2010.
Lucky for me I was able to photograph several World Cups in Utah in the months leading up to the games, giving me a good refresher of what to look for. Also, there were many people who were more than willing to help me out. I won't dare try to list you by name because I'm sure to forget someone. I can't thank Canon and Nikon enough for their equipment loans, which I took full advantage of. I made some of my best photographs with the Canon Mark IV and the Nikon D3s, and many are shots that would have been difficult to capture with my older staff-issued gear.

Our focus going into Vancouver was to cover the hometown athletes. We had more than sixty of them so they weren't hard to find.

Some of my favorite moments came from work we did before the games. Getting rare access to the elite Gym Jones to photograph skeleton athlete Zach Lund's fierce workouts was one such moment. Photographing Shannon Bahrke winning her bronze medal in moguls was another fun moment for me.

At this point I'd say I'm still recovering. Just spotting the colors of Vancouver 2010- acidic green and cerulean blue -is sometimes enough to make my heart skip a beat. Like any Olympics it's not so much something you look forward to but it's a great thing to look back on. Getting through it you feel like a snake trying to swallow a goat. (

(Trent Nelson is the chief photographer at the Salt Lake Tribune. You can visit his member page here:

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