Day 2 – Freestyling It

Shannon Bahrke of the USA celebrates her bronze medal during the Women’s Freestyle Mogul Prelims at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at Cypress Mountain on February 13, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Donald Miralle) 

Today started in a haze at about 5 am from a text from Getty Chief Photographer and great friend Al Bello on the alpine skiing conditions. He relayed that it didn’t look good, which was a relief as it meant I didn’t have to get up and take a bus in the dark up to Whistler. I hit snooze and slept for four more beautiful hours…

After my first good night sleep in B.C. following a couple nights on Rich Glass’ crashpad couch in Whistler, I felt like a knew man. Mike and I ran across the street from our boutique St. Regis hotel to Ken Horton’s for a breakfast sandwich, a dounut, and a latte; then jumped back to the St. Regis to pack for the Women’s Freestyle Moguls. 

Hannah Kearney and Shannon Bahrke of the USA compete during the Women’s Freestyle Mogul (Photo by Donald Miralle) 

The Cypress Mountain Freestyle Venue other than the fact that it is at such a low altitude that snow has to shipped in at the cost of thousands of dollars a day, also has the worst transportation set-up at the Olympics. After you take an hour-long ride from the Media Center in Vancouver, you have to de-board the bus, walk through rain and mud for about 1km with hoards of spectators also fighting to get into the venue. Then you have to sit in line and go through the security before you board another inter-venue bus that takes you to the media center, which is about ¼ mile from the actual venue. I hate to whine, but if you’re lugging 70lbs of gear in the cold and rain, this situation sucks, especially at the end of the day after shooting for 6 hours in the rain.

Trying to stay dry in the rain (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The horrible transport experience was elleviated by seeing some old familiar faces. The Head Photo Marshal was A.P. Hovasse whom I worked with years earlier at the Athens Olympics and USA Swimming Trials. I was also greeted by a bunch of Vancouver and Beijing Olympic Pins from Al Tielmans of Sports Illustrated as he said,”Sorry it took me two years to get these to you!” Thanks Al! 

One of our main assignments at the Freestyle today was helping friend Koji Aoki with photos of the Japanese team for his Agency Aflo. When I was first starting out as a photographer many years ago and was struggling to find the funds to purchase an essential but expensive 400/2.8 lens, Koji offered his own lens to me as a loan which I could pay off over a period of months. He is a great man and will always be indebted to him for his generosity to me.

I hunkered myself in a wet photo pit in good company with Streeter Lecka and Chistian Petersen of Getty Images, freelance photographer Chris Trotman, Robert Beck of SI, and Andrew Gombert of EPA, which made the dismal weather pass quicker. It was an exciting Women’s Freestyle Mogul Final, where veteran skier Shannon Bahrke of the USA had a huge final run to bump World Cup standout Aiko Uemura of Japan out of the bronze medal; also, young American mogulist Hannah Kearney upset the #1 seed Jennifer Heil for the Gold. It ensued in a USA flag-fest led by an ecstatic Bahrke who went ballistic after Kearney’s run to the dismay of a visibly dejected Heil…I felt a little bad for the young Canadian, but I am sure she will be around in four years in Sochi.

Aiko Uemura of Japan looks on as Shannon Barke of the USA celebrates

After doing the painful reverse exit route from the venue with two buses and a 1km walk in the rain, I am now in the bus on my way to the media center to catch another taxi to my hotel. Day 2 is done….goodnight!


  1. Al Pryzbylkowski says:

    Don- Been reading your blog and it makes me feel as if I’m in Vancouver with you. Seems weird not being there but it is much more comfortable watching it on the tube. The women’s moguls competition was awesome. My regards to Mike Powell as well. Cheers and keep up the good work.

    • Great to hear from you Al! You are sorely missed out here and the Olympics just doesn’t seem the same without you! I’m glad the you’re enjoying the blog and I’ve got a bunch of pins with your name on them!!!

  2. curling wheres the curliing…ha. you rock,Don. keep it up, thanks for the amazing blog

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