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|| News Item: Posted 2010-02-04

Nervous, humbled and excited.
Gerry McCarthy is getting ready for the biggest assignment of his career: the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

By Gerry McCarthy, The Dallas Morning News

Photo by Gerry McCarthy / The Dallas Morning News

Photo by Gerry McCarthy / The Dallas Morning News

Gerry McCarthy has been doing some prep work for Vancouver that he has come up with all on his own, including gaff taping large storage bags of ice to his crotch.
In a little more than a week I'll be photographing the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. To say I'm feeling overwhelmed and totally intimidated would be an understatement. Just the other night I had a horrible nightmare about my upcoming assignment.

In the dream, it's the day our lone local athlete, speedskater Jordan Malone of Denton, competes for a medal. I've overslept, missed the early shuttle out to the venue and am stuck riding for hours in the hopes of at least making one photo of the guy. Of course that makes no sense, since speedskating is in Vancouver and probably not that far of a shuttle ride. But hey, this is a nightmare. Do the ever make sense?

Anyway, I get to the venue just in time to see Malone, standing on the #1 block, gold medal in hand, sobbing like a baby. He's shouting to his mother, who's just fainted in the stands.

No kissing the medal, no mugging for the cameras, no "I'm going to Disney World!" -- just genuine, amazing emotion. I lift a camera up to my eye just in time to realize I've left all my batteries and CF cards back at the hotel. I am horrified. Nobody around me will help; they only heckle and throw used hand warmers my way. Also nearby is Smiley Pool, inexplicably dressed as the devil and wielding a red-hot trident, laughing maniacally.

And of course, for some reason I'm wearing no clothes in this nightmare ... as usual.


I'm nervous, yes, but pretty humbled and excited. In addition to this being my first Olympic Games ever, it's by far the biggest assignment of my career. As a "youngish" photojournalist -- 30 going on 101 -- and as someone who's been fortunate enough to earn part of his living shooting sports, this is the assignment of a lifetime. I honestly can't wait to see how many different ways I can screw this up.

One thing that struck me the other day is that, as far as I know, I've not photographed a single winter sport in my life. About the closest I've come to anything like that is the snowstorm of 2006 in Columbia, Mo., where I spent the better part of a day watching folks accidentally slip and slide down Campusview Drive. Even I took part, losing my balance at the top of the hill and making it most of the way down in about 10 seconds.

The German judge only gave me a 6.0.


I'm still in the middle of prepping (yes, middle, with less than a week before I leave), so I don't have much to offer right now beyond what I've gathered from the kindness of others. Seriously, I owe a lot of people a LOT of thanks; what little preparedness I have for this assignment is due totally to the friends and fellow shooters who've graciously spent hours with me on the phone and online answering questions of every shape and size, such as ...

"Will we have to worry about bears at Whistler?"

"I don't really have any good winter weather shoes, but it'll work just as well to layer my feet in old cardigans and Saran Wrap, right?"

"Can I use the crampons to fight off bears, if there are any in Whistler?"

"Is there yellow snow in Canada?"

"How many golds do you think Michael Phelps will win this year??"


So anyway, it goes without saying I have a lot of work cut out for me in the next several days. As per colleague's suggestions, I'm getting as much sleep as I can, boning up on all the pre-Olympics stories I can find in print and online, and making sure I DON'T put my passport some place I think I'll remember but end up forgetting (same place the den DVD remote and my last two wedding rings have ended up, I'm sure). In addition, I've taken to doing some prep work I've come up all on my own: hand-to-paw wild bear combat with only a monopod and granola bar for defense; adding "eh?" to the end of every sentence; and of course, gaff taping large storage bags of ice to my crotch.


That's all for now, amigos and amigas. More to come.

Thanks to Brad and the rest of the gang for letting me write a little about my experiences during (and before) the Winter Olympics. In addition to here, there will be content on the Dallas Morning News' Winter Olympics blog, which is coming soon.

Lastly, thanks in no particular order to Chris Detrick, Scott Strazzante, Trent Nelson, Erich Schlegel, Nhat Meyer, Smiley Pool and Dave Eulitt (as well as many others) for all their helpful info and support. Likewise, thanks to my bosses Leslie White, Chris Wilkins and Irwin Thompson for the opportunity to shoot such a cool gig. I apologize in advance for letting you all down.

- gerry -

(Gerry McCarthy is a staff photojournalist with The Dallas Morning News. He previously worked at the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune and The Paris (Texas) News. He is happily married, out of shape and balding, unable to leap tall buildings in a single bound. He was Joan of Arc in my former life.

Related Links:
Gerry's member page

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