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|| News Item: Posted 2002-03-01

Leading Off: Cool, Uncool & Gnarly at the Olympics
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today
Four weeks is a long time to be away from home even for covering a Winter Olympics.

After days and days of ice and snow, endless drivel spewed about pairs figure skating judging (Hey America: Wake up! It's ALWAYS been fixed!), Apolo, Michelle, Dominik, Cammi and Jimmy Shea. It's nice to sleep in my own bed and not hear those horns blaring the "Olympic Theme."

Covering any Olympic Games, whether it's on your home turf or in some foreign country mean long hours, rides in buses, writing captions with names you've never tried to spell before (or will ever again) and making great photos.

But making our lives all the better in Salt Lake City were GREAT venue photo managers Alexandra Korab (Deer Valley), Mike Martinez (Olympic Oval) and Tracy Frankel (Utah Olympic Park). Having experienced people that understood our jobs and what makes great sports photos made our lives a little better.

But covering any event especially one as massive as an Olympics has its ups and downs.

With apologies to Sergio Leone, here is Bert's version of the "The Good The Bad And the Ugly" from the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics:

Cool: Greg Fiume and Klye Adema at the E Center, site of the Olympic Ice Hockey competition. Greg ran the photo operation at the E Center as it should be: letting photographers do their jobs and giving us the opportunity to make photos we hadn't been able to before with great access to hang remotes. Kyle ran the catwalks and gave us the time to put up the remotes before games and also changed cards, film and batteries between periods for us, giving us images from the catwalks quicker than we should have expected. Greg really had it together for the most part he even had the glass cleaned on the ice-level photo positions between every period!

Not Cool: Some photographers making unrealistic demands and thinking that the rules weren't for them to follow.

Gnarly: Terrible, inconsistent messenger service at some of the venues.

* * *

Photo by
Cool: The Market Street Grill, Red Iguana, Xaio Li and the Rodizio Grill. Great food, good prices and open late. What's not to love?

Not Cool: The HORRIBLE food at all of the venue sub press centers. Your choices were a bad hot dog or a bigger bad hot dog. The only thing I can figure is that the Mormon Church owns the local hot dog factory. (It was so bad, one day an unnamed Boston Globe shooter jumped out of his chair to grab a sack lunch offered up by a SLOC volunteer.)

Gnarly: The AWFUL food in the Main Press Center (sorry, I just can't bring myself to call it the MMC the Main Media Center). When McDonald's is your best choice in the building, you know it's awful!

* * *

Cool: Clearing through baggage check, security and ticketing at the Salt Lake Airport on Tuesday in less than an hour for the trip home. All it took Bob Deutsch and me to avoid the reported 4-5 hour wait was planning and smart maneuvering --- spending a few bucks to skycap the bags; bypassing the huge lines at ticketing and security by using the parking garage entrance and getting boarding passes at the customer service counter near our gates.

Uncool: Security searching our bags as we were LEAVING the Delta Center after the final event in that venue. The reason we were given: "it's for your own good!" I think the real reason was they were searching us was they were making sure we weren't taking any of those damned hot dogs from the sub center media café.

Gnarly: Gold medal winner Alexei Yaguidin being held at the MPC "mag and bag" like a POW because he didn't have an escort into the building. When I pointed out who he was to the two camouflage-clothed soldiers on each side of him ("hey guys you know he won the figure skating gold medal two days ago?") one of them replied "He don't speak no English." Obviously, neither did that soldier.

* * *

Cool: The "RonTan/Nikon" Backpack made available to EP credentialed shooters. It held two digital bodies, a 400mm or 600mm, two zoom lenses, extenders, flash cards, laptop and loads of accessories what's not to like?

Uncool: Loading two digital bodies, a 400mm or 600mm, two zooms, extenders, flash cards, laptop and loads of accessories into the "RonTan/Nikon" Backpack and falling over backwards on the downhill course on skis, twisting a knee!

Gnarly: The seam that split on front of "RonTan/Nikon" Backpack after loading two digital bodies, a 400mm or 600mm, two zooms, extenders, flash cards, laptop and loads of accessories.

* * *

Cool: DSL working everywhere we had it installed even outside in the freezing cold at the Opening Ceremony and in the sleet at the Closing Ceremony. DSL, with just a couple of exceptions in over 15 locations we had it put in, was "plug and play" with our PowerBooks.

Uncool: Those hideously ugly, bright orange backpacks the AP staffers wore throughout the Olympics. The backpack contained a wireless network rig that was tethered to their digital cameras, transmitting everything they shot at 50-bazillion Ghz to AP photo editors at the sub press centers. Semi-cool technology. Uncool fashion statement (except Amy Sancetta's backpack which was painted black.)

Gnarly: The brain tumors the size of grapefruits that no doubt will show up on CAT scans of these AP staffers in a few years.

* * *

A couple of personal notes about the Salt Lake Winter Olympics:

- My deepest appreciation to my USA TODAY colleagues Bob Deutsch, Jack Gruber and Julia Schmalz. These three helped keep me sane (and alive!) during my four weeks in Utah.

- Frequent Sports Shooter contributor and Salt Lake Tribune photo editor/shooter Trent Nelson is one helluva great guy. Every time I ran into him, whether on the top of the ski jump ramp or in the press tribune at figure skating, he had a smile on his face and a nice word of encouragement. Not an easy thing to do when getting only a few hours of sleep a night. A good photographer and all-around class act.

- And special thanks and love to my wife Deanna and daughter Emma for all of their understanding and patience and for answering the phone, no matter how late my call home.

* * *

This issue of Sports Shooter wraps up the recent Salt Lake City Winter Olympics with reports from Trent Nelson, Rod Mar, Rick Rickman and Todd Warshaw. Anne Ryan writes about that other recent event Super Bowl XXXIV. And can it be baseball season already? Karen Warren from the Houston Chronicle and the AP's Ben Margot tell us why baseball's Spring Training is a favorite with photographers.

So sit back, adjust the contrast on that monitor, lower the volume on that "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack and enjoy Sports Shooter v.40!

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