Teva Mountain Games – Summer 2011
The 2011 Summer Teva Mountain Games ended yesterday. We had bright sunshine with warm temps during the day and colder temps at night to keep the crushing torrent of spring snow melt somewhat at bay. There was a haze from forest fires in southern Colorado and Keystone, but other than that it was beautiful.
I was assigned by the Vail Valley Foundation to shoot a variety of events throughout the four days the games were in town including the Bud Light Lime Steep Creek Championship, Teva Slopestyle presented by Chipotle, the Bud Light Lime Down River Sprint, the Maui Jim SUP Surf Sprint presented by C4 Waterman, the IFSC Bouldering World Cup presented by Goal Zero, the Eukanuba Dock Dogs Big Air Wave and the Bud Light Lime Kayak Freestyle presented by First Ascent.
The first day found me perched on the steep, rocky banks of Homestake Creek just outside the sleepy mining town of Red Cliff, Colorado. I had the chance to watch one of the gnarliest whitewater events in one of the best seats in the house. My Media armband allowing me access to some amazing vantage points. I got to watch people like Brad Ludden, Dane Jackson, Adriene Levknecht and Martina Wegman battle Colorado spring runoff at its peak. Right above my head was a camera on a pulley system like the ones for NFL games to follow the paddlers down the course. It was awesome.
My first day of shooting at Steep Creek was followed by a full day of events including coverage of Gear Town and in the evening I was assigned to the Slopestyle event at Gold Peak. Start time was 6pm. Perfect golden afternoon light with the Gore Range illuminated shooting east.
I couldn’t believe how many other shooters were at the event and there I was working alongside other photographers all at various stages of their careers.
Followed by the Eukanuba Dock Dogs Big Air:
And then the Bud Light Lime Kayak Freestyle Finals on Gore Creek:
What a great day, right? I couldn’t believe what I was doing. Throughout the day I’d realize that I was shooting for myself, on location in the Colorado Rockies with International athletes and attendees. Amazing.
The day concluded with coverage of the 2011 IFSC Bouldering World Cup presented by Goal Zero. I’ve never seen anything like it. These athletes from Russia, Germany, Austria, Japan, Australia, Korea, France and the United States were some of the toughest people I’ve ever seen.
And the crowd was way into it. Plus to see the athletes feed off the energy from the audience was intense.
That evening I began to notice the intimate moments that presented themselves to me during the main events I was covering. Like Dimtry Sharafutdinov from Russia and Jonas Baumann from Germany having a conversation on the sidelines.
Or seeing Austrian climber Anna Stohr the winner of the Women’s division for the 2011 IFSC Bouldering World Cup listening to music during the competition.
And for the rest of the weekend these little moments kept jumping out.
My final day of shooting I was assigned to cover the Youth and Citizen Bouldering Competition on the lawn next to the Vista Bahn.
Then in the afternoon it was back over to Gore Creek to cover the Maui Jim SUP Surf Cross and the Bud Light Lime 8 Ball Kayak Finals. I was one of a few photographers stationed at a vantage point above the finish line. As much as I was shooting athletes in action for much of the weekend, there are periods of downtime when you’re waiting for the action to happen.
During one of these waiting points I had the chance to talk with Preston Utley, a Denver based photographer, also covering the games for the Foundation. Take a few minutes to check out Preston’s blog and his site – great stuff. We talked about different lenses, like the new tilt and shift he was using over the weekend, and we talked about film. It was another great moment throughout an equally great four days. It also served as a reminder to me that, despite photography being a very personal experience, collaboration with others in creativity is crucial and required to achieve true success and fulfillment.
Now that it’s all over, I’m here sitting at my desk reflecting on the past few days – the events, the athletes, the great meetings, great conversations. Little moments come back to me as I review my images, feelings are evoked from color and texture.
I remember the quality of the light, the haze from forest fires, the numbing waters of Gore Creek. I’m left remembering all the lessons I learned through mistakes and success. I feel so incredibly grateful for all the people who helped me make the most of this amazing opportunity. And I’m so stoked for the next project that allows me to exercise the skills and experience gained.