I am very honored and blessed to be asked by USA Today to come over to Sochi to cover the Winter Olympic Games! The team here is awesome and inspiring to be around! The reporters, editors, technical staff, and photographers all encourage and support each other and that is very refreshing to see! Since it is my first Olympic Games to shoot, I am looking forward to seeing what I can produce with my teammates and simply try to create some of the best imagery for USA Today.
Ok, I know a lot of you have heard about my trip to Sochi and have been sending me tons of messages, so I figured I would write several blog posts to let you guys in on some of the happenings and behind the scenes moments as I cover the Olympics over the next several weeks.
Let’s first start with the BAD first…
The flights over to Sochi and my lost luggage. What a fiasco this was!! I was supposed to catch a flight on Monday morning from DFW to JFK and I had already checked in and my bags were checked all the way to Sochi. Well, New York had a crazy winter storm and it cancelled my flight. No problem, there was another flight to LaGuardia that I could take that would still give me time to catch my JFK to Moscow flight. So all is good I thought as my bags were moved to the LGA flight and I was ready to board. Then the agent tells us that the flight will be delayed an hour. Well that hour turns onto almost 3 hours and I am told I would miss my connection if I were to stay on the flight.
So, I manage to get a direct flight from DFW to Frankfurt which got me in at 8am on Tuesday morning with a flight from Frankfurt to Sochi at 10:30pm. Here is where the trip went really downhill fast! My luggage was NEVER moved to my new flight and as if that wasn’t bad enough, it ended up staying at JFK somehow! To add insult to injury, we boarded the flight to Sochi and were coming up to takeoff speed when the pilot slammed on the brakes and went back to the gate and made everyone get off the plane. No explanation or anything. We waited around another hour or so and then an Aeroflot representative told us our flight would take off at 5:30am now.(I had only been at the airport since 8:30am that day!) Yes, I was tired and simply wanted to get to Sochi , so I could get settled, adjusted and check out venues, etc…
They did give us a hotel voucher but I figured by the time I got to the hotel, it would be time to turn around and come right back, so I just chilled in the Frankfurt food court. 😉
at 5:30am, the flight took off and I finally made it to Sochi around noon. Then the dreaded happened. I had no luggage! I pretty much had to fill out a missing luggage claim in a country where I did not understand a single word they were saying,. Always keep your baggage receipts as that’s the only way they can track it! So, I’ll be honest, I was really scared and afraid as I had packed almost 3 full bags full of accessories, clothes, food, medicine, etc…
I am writing this on Friday and I JUST received my luggage this afternoon! YES, almost a whole week! Safe to say, I would suck at the show survivor. I spent most of Tuesday shopping for replacement clothes as I only had what I traveled with! I did learn a lesson to always carry another change of clothes in my carry on from now on. It’s not fun trying to shop for underwear when the girl at the counter only speaks Russian. Quite comical to say the least and my buddy Guy Rhodes, who took these pics, was cracking up at my feeble attempts to communicate.
Got my bags back today and as you can see, they had been ransacked, but at least everything is there!! Thanks to JD Mercer for taking this iphone pic!
Honestly, that was the worst as everything else has been VERY good! Here are my answers to the questions I am getting the most:
Safety – GREAT – I have to be honest and say that this is one of the safest places that I have been to in all my life. You literally cannot go 50 yards without seeing Russian Security forces patrolling. In fact, they check all cars, buses, and people entering every venue with metal detectors, bomb sniffing dogs, etc.. I may post a behind the scenes of how I get into a venue one night to show you guys. VERY SAFE though within the secure zone.
Accommodations – GREAT!
I have heard the horror stories down by the coast, but in all honesty, my apartment is just fine. The only thing that really is missing from our unit is a washer and dryer. It has the hookups but no unit. As you can see from my quick snapshots, we have a spacious place, a shower curtain, super hot and no yellow water, a full kitchen with microwave and full set of pots and pans, etc… Heck, we even have a shower towel warmer! So, no real complaints here from me. Well, except for the maid who will make you get up from your bed so that she can replace the sheets. 🙂
Since this is my first Olympics to shoot, I am soaking up all the info from everyone! It is a lot but I am learning at a ridiculous pace! In fact, most of these sports will be my first time to cover them period! A great example was Luge. I covered the training session to get a feel for it and thought I would have a little fun with the Multiple Exposure feature in my Canon 1DX. Well, the shots I did that with have gone viral! Pretty cool!
I am sure you guys have been hearing about the stray dog controversy over here as we have all covered it pretty extensively. Well, as I was getting ready to shoot LUGE, I saw a cat actually playing around near the track! It was pretty interesting and several sources picked up the shot since the dogs have been getting all the attention.
Before the Opening Ceremonies today, I had a chance to go around and shoot some feature stuff. I brought a tilt shift lens with me and got some pretty cool looking shots of the Rosa Khutor Village! It reminds me of a Christmas Village set.
Some gorgeous views here!(Complete with security blimp.)
Oh and thanks to Guy Rhodes for the cool photo of me in action!
Tonight, I was assigned to cover some highlights of the Opening Ceremonies here in the mountain cluster. So, I’ll leave you guys with a couple of fireworks shots…
I’m off to cover Men’s snowboarding tomorrow as well as Men’s luge at night! Now that I will be on a regular schedule, I will post updates on a regular basis! Stay tuned!
KJ Images Photography
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