Events: Page (1) of 1 - 02/05/18

Winter Olympics - Nordic Combined Trials

Part 5 - The U.S. XIII Olympic Winter Games

By Miles Weston

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The U.S. XIII Olympic Winter Games Nordic Combined Trials

The Nordic Combined USA Olympic Team trials is a two-day even that Jeff Swinger, USA Today Sports photographer, describes as a particularly interesting event because it is two contests that combine skill and endurance into a single competition - ski jump and cross country.  

A skier himself, Jeff emphasized that it's difficult to be perfect in both.


In the morning, the competitors perform their jumps.  In the afternoon, they attack the race course.




The U.S. Olympic organization has an intricate scoring mechanism for the Nordic Combined. They convert the jump scores to a time differential for the race. The skier then has to make up that differential to win in the overall Nordic Combined.


U.S. Bryan Fletcher leads Adam Loomis as they compete in the Cross Country portion of Olympic Nordic Combined Team Trials at Utah Olympic Park. 
Jeff's assignment - get quality photos of the challengers and the action from several different angles to give viewers and readers a complete story of the best of the total event.

As the skiers prepared for their jumps, Jeff took up what he hoped would be the best location to capture them in full flight off the jump.

"It's interesting to listen to the announcer when he's talking about the athlete at the top of the jump," he noted.  "He will explain that even with a bad jump, the contestant can make up the point difference during the cross country." 


Bryan Fletcher (9) competes in the ski jump portion of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials at Utah Olympic Park. 
That's what happened with Bryan Fletcher. He didn't have a great jump but really turned it on in the race and earned his spot on the Olympic team. 

Obviously, weather is an important factor in an outdoor winter sports competition; but for this year's Nordic Combined competition, it was warm and mild.  The contestants had to regulate their temperatures differently than they would if it was cold by shedding clothing as they went and finishing with minimal gear at the finish.   

The cross country portion was about a 25-minute race--five laps that took the athletes around a hilly track with lots of turns.


Jeff Swinger, USA Today Sports photographer, uses OWC storage to protect his irreplaceable shots. 


For this event, in addition to his ever-present camera(s) and OWC storage devices, Jeff also used his Yak Tracks (removable traction cleats for ice/snow) to get up and down the hill quickly to capture just the right shots.

"There were only two challenges for me on this shoot," he recalled.  "First, the athletes could make it around the track in about five minutes per lap, so you picked your location, got the best action shots possible and instantly took off for the next 'just right' location."

His second challenge was that the cross country was being televised and there was a snow mobile with a camera person positioned ahead of the leaders on one portion of the track.

"TV always gets the right-of-way," he grinned, "so I had to pick locations that would let me get photos of the leaders without showing the snow mobile."  


U.S. Bryan Fletcher achieves the fastest time in the Cross Country portion of Olympic Nordic Combined Team Trials at Utah Olympic Park, winning the competition. 

Using wide-angle lenses, Jeff was able to capture the participants as they raced past with a beautiful view of the natural preserve and Park City mountains in the background.  

After two laps, he had to rush to the finish line to get pictures of the athletes as they came into the stadium racing to the finish line. 



U.S. Bryan Fletcher celebrates after winning the Cross Country portion of Olympic Nordic Combined Team Trials at Utah Olympic Park and sealing a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. 

Jeff noted that in endurance races, the skiers generally sprint at the end, spending all of the energy they have left.



Many of the athletes collapse, physically and emotionally drained, after crossing the finish line  for the Cross Country portion of the Olympic Nordic Combined Team Trials at Utah Olympic Park. 

Undercover author Miles Weston has spent more than 30 years in the storage, software and video industry, indulging in, among other things, marketing activities in promoting PC, CE, communications, content technology and their applications . Contact Miles through his editor by clicking here.


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