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|| News Item: Posted 2006-03-30

Torino Winter Olympic Memories
'I felt like I walked into a hospital for a routine check up and the doctor tells me I need major brain surgery!'

By Gary Reyes, San Jose Mercury News

Photo by Gary Reyes / San Jose Mercury News

Photo by Gary Reyes / San Jose Mercury News

Finland goalie, Antero Nittymaki gets hit in the face by the puck in the second-period of a semi-final match against Russia. at the Winter Olympic Games 2006 in Turin, Italy on Feb. 24, 2006. Nittymaki was down for a few minutes.
My favorite nightmare story at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin occurred early in the games after I dropped off a perfectly working Canon Mk II at Canon Professional Services at the Main Press Center to get the free routine cleaning and firmware update. It was convenient opportunity to have everything checked and cleaned up during the first week of the games, or so I thought.

I brought three Canon Mark II bodies to the Olympics. I had already sent in one body to get checked. Why not get the others checked? I left my third body with CPS for a check up so I was down to two bodies Well, when I got the second body back, I took it immediately to Oval Lingotto to shoot an afternoon of speed skating. I stuck it on my 400mm and it wouldn't focus correctly. It would rack all the way to infinity, all the way back to closest focus, then finally find focus. It did this consistently no matter what I tried.

This was not going to work trying to shoot Joey Cheek flying at you going for the gold! Luckily, Oval Lingotto was the closest venue to the Main Press Center. It's a five-minute walk back to the folks at CPS, but the event I was shooting started in less than an hour.

Two Canon techs took a look and realized the camera had a big problem. No big deal, drop it off and come back tomorrow to pick it up. When I came back the next day I was told the camera had a major problem with the focusing system and couldn't be fixed in Turin because the problem was so major that they didn't have the tools to make a repair. I felt like I walked into a hospital for a routine check up and the doctor tells me I need major brain surgery!

A tech named Per was extremely helpful and said they would do whatever was needed to get the camera to the original condition. They even gave me a loaner for the duration of the games to boot. Per said check back in a few days time. Cool.

Well, the story didn't end. When I went back with a few days left at the Olympics to check on the camera, I couldn't find Per or any of the techs I had spoken to earlier. They found my camera in the back room and gave me the same diagnosis. Apparently, it was never shipped off to the factory as I was led to believe. Sorry, we can't fix this camera; it has a major problem we can't deal with here in Turin. I explained the situation to deaf ears.

The games were only a couple days away from ending and nobody at Canon wanted to take any responsibility for what happened. I was too busy shooting the final days of men's hockey to bother with the situation. Now I'm stuck with a broken camera and big repair bill.

Moral: If it isn't broken, don't fix it!

(Gary Reyes is a staff photographer with the San Jose Mercury News. This was his first Olympic Games. For a look at Reyes' work at the Torino Olympics, check his web journal at:

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