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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2002-01-23

It's Not Animal House:
It's the Allsport Flop House

By Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin
With the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City just days away, the world's best athletes will be descending onto the state of Utah for the month of February. To cover the Games in every aspect will be the top writers, broadcasters, journalists and of course photographers from all over the world. Since 1996 when the games were given to SLOC, Allsport, the official photographers to the International Olympic Committee since 1984, has been gearing up ever since.

For the past year, the company has set up a full time bureau based in downtown Salt Lake to handle the volume of work that is always associated with the build up to any Olympic games. Headed by veteran Allsport staffer Matthew Stockman, Salt Lake City will never be the same. Spending as much time in and around the venues in Utah, we have had a chance to explore both the nightlife and the actual venues.

Set up at the Brigham Young apartments, Matt has spearheaded the photography efforts in preparation for the Games. With a constant flow of photographers in and out of the bureau, Matt's responsibilities have inevitably broadened beyond just photography, but into one of consummate host.

With his rear wheel drive '89 Volvo station wagon and100 pounds of sand in the trunk to keep it on the road, Matt can often be seen driving down Temple street (I,m not sure if it is N, S, E, or W Temple) on his way to airport to pick up a photographer.

Or he could be spotted in the kitchen preparing a specialty of white wine marinated mussels for a group of weary snappers tired from a days work on the mountain.

When the occupancy at what has been affectionately dubbed "the Mormon Penthouse" is high, it can resemble a college dorm room. Most photographers I know are not the neatest or most organized group of people. Especially when there are Australians, British, and Americans grouped together, it can get ugly. With loads of camera gear, computers, winter clothes, skis, snowboards, DVDs, old Chinese food, empty beer bottles and what every else is lying around it can be hard to stay organized.

Thankfully, Matt is able to keep everything functioning like a freshly waxed pair of skis, despite everyone's different habits and personalities.

Beyond the walls of the Mormon Penthouse, the city of Salt Lake has a challenging array of activities for the photographer finished with work for the day. With "membership" fees to the local bars, watered down beer, long lines at the few good restaurants, finding variety at night will be tough in Salt Lake. A good way to get around the "membership" rule at the bars is to find a friendly local outside who can "sponsor" you for that bar.

On a typical Friday night a few weeks back, the line at PF Changs's was two hours long for a party of four. Unfortunately we opted for takeout Chinese which was far from good, so be careful.

Red Rock brewery is my favorite bar that serves decent food as well. Park City will fair only slightly better, having more of a true ski town feeling to it, but suffering from only one Main Street of business. Try the Fat Tire Brewery on Main St. Crowds are sure to be tight in Park City when the Games begin.

As for anyone in Ogden, well there is the Shooting Star Saloon and if anyone actually has time off during the Games and wants to catch a flick, go to Brewvies, a theater where you can actually order a beer while you watch a movie. What a concept!

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Most of the downtown media hotels are centrally located to the Main Press Center and the majority of restaurants and bars downtown. Walking around downtown Salt Lake will be safer than most cities, as a photographer lugging a 400mm across the street will be happy to know that they can choose to become more visible with one of the many bright orange flags around town designed to protect pedestrians. So when you have a disgruntled bus driver bearing down on you with a hoard of angry writers yelling at him, make sure to wave that flag!

For the typical American photographer the Games will probably feel like another Big Event. The flavor of the Olympics will not have the international feel as Nagano or Lilihammer. As was the case in Atlanta, the Games had a commercial feel to them, which was hard to avoid. It almost felt like the Coca-Cola Winter Games. Hopefully Salt Lake won't make this same mistake.

For photographers from out of the country, they should expect to see a truly American feel to the games. Patriotism should be high, as flag waving has already become a national phenomenon.

As for the actual venues themselves, one main point is that there are no bathroom facilities on the cross-country course in Soldiers Hollow. Thanks to a certain foreign photographer whom I will not mention, one should watch where they step if you are covering the Cross Country. Other than that, most of the venues will not be surprising for anyone who has covered the Winter Games before.

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images
Needless to say, security will be more than tight, so leave plenty of time to get to your events. Chances are we will have to turn on and fire each camera and power up the laptop, amongst other measures. If the transportation system is anything like the past three Olympics I have covered, be prepared for delays, routes that don't make sense, rookie bus drivers and angry, tired journalists who wont give up there seat even if you are carrying 40 pounds worth of gear.

The Salt Lake Games will inevitably have all the drama and fierce competition that usually accompanies the Olympic Games. Although this probably will not be the most scenic of Winter Games, lacking great vistas for many of the traditionally scenic venues, the competition should be tight. With the new technology in digital cameras, there are sure to be some great moments captured by the many Sports Shooters.

Oh yea, and if you happen to see Matt during the Games, pat him on the back and tell him he did a great job.

(Jed Jacobsohn, who got his start in sports photographer at age 14 with UPI, is a senior staff photographer with Getty Images based in the San Francisco Bay Area.)


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Getting paid to eat pizza, smoke cigars and drink beer? One lucky photog ::..