I was asked to work the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang for USA Today Sports Images back in July, and it’s been a pretty daunting road preparing for events that you may, or may not shoot. I really didn’t prepare until around a month before the trip, and had a few talks with fellow colleagues one their advice for what to bring. Since this would be my first time covering an Olympics, I really wanted to be prepared. I decided on bringing pretty much everything in my arsenal, since assignments would vary day to day. I would also be tasked at editing some assignments during my time there. Here is my gear, including a few things that were loaded to me through NPS, Nikon Professional Services.
And my most important weather gear, since the temperatures would be well below freezing during the events, which has been big news as one of the colder winter olympics recently.
I was able to pack all my gear, clothes and snacks into these three bags, which allowed me to check in one and carry on my photo gear. I called a ride, and off to the airport four hours prior to departure.
I had a little bit of trouble getting my checked bag onto the plane, since the online resources had some conflicting information about the weight of the baggage. But all in all, I was able to talk with customer service at Singapore Airlines and explain my situation. It wasn’t over by much, but the two kilograms was preventing me from getting that baggage tag. But the overall process of getting through LAX was really quick and easy, and I had a lot of time to waste after getting to the gate, so I decided to get a photo of the pins provided to use from USA Today Sports. I’m looking forward to trading pins with everyone I meet at the event!
After cramped 12 hour flight, the seats really aren’t meant for anyone six feet tall or above, we landed in Seoul at around 10pm. I was optimistic that I would be able to validate my credential and have a seamless process to the media village. Unfortunately we were only greeted by the signs, since the PVC desks were closed at 10 P.M..
I ended up grabbing my baggage, headed through immigration to find the help desk to find my travel accommodations to the media village. We were supposed to be provided two tickets on the high speed train, one for us, and one for the baggage. The last KTX train out of Seoul Incheon was also at 10pm, so I just missed it and had to take the bus over instead. I was told this would be a five hour journey, so I was prepared to get into my bed around 5 A.M.. But the bus was ready to leave only 20 minutes after I got my ticket, so I loaded my luggage and had a quick walk around the airport.
The iconic Olympic rings that greeted me at the airport.
Our bus to Gangneum, media village.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the bus ride was only around 3 hours long. This was basically a wash with the KTX, since there was another 30 minute ride from the train station to the media village. I ended up getting in around 2 A.M. but feeling the effects of jetlag. So I got comfortable, took a shower and then laid in bed until we had to meet at 7:30 A.M. for breakfast, and 10 A.M. for our photographers meeting that morning.
Since I didn’t have my credential validated already, I had to wait around until the office opened at 9 A.M. and hope I would get to the meeting, a 30 minute bus ride to PyeongChang, in time. I wandered the streets to see if I could get any interesting photos or features.
Our media accommodations.
A view from my 16th floor room.
The weather was blistering cold.
The volunteers were also decked out with some nice gear, to hide them from the cold.
After the meeting, I ended up walking around the Media Press Center also to see if there were any featured shots. here is one of the Olympic rings framing the ski jump tower.
My basecamp for the next 15 days, the MPC.
Police filing out, prepping for the games to begin.
A tower situated outside the MPC with all the sports played in the games.
And workers were still setting up, even a day before the games were set to begin!
The last thing for the day was to head up to the Alpine Center in Jeongseon and scope out the venue I would be shooting at in the next couple of days. Since I didn’t know the lay of the land yet, I wanted to acquaint myself and feel comfortable where I would be and how to get there. This was around an hour away from the MPC, and unfortunately I took the last frequent bus there and was stuck in the cold for 2 hours waiting for the next bus. But my short 30 minute scouting trip was still worth it.
A view headed up the lifts to the finish line.
Since it was so cold, and there wasn’t much natural snow around, grooming is necessary on the tracks.
Olympic rings backdropped by some dry and empty trees.
And as I was headed out, the volunteers were ready to leave as well. Practice was set for earlier that day.
Workers setting up the banners on the seating by the finish line.
While I was leaving, I felt like I was just rushed and late for everything. From arriving in Seoul, to the credentials, and also missing the window for a more frequent bus schedule. I didn’t know that the workers would be putting the flags up either. I just missed the Korean flag and the Olympic flag, which would have made this into a decent photo setting up the games. But alas, this was my fortune for the day, and hoping the karma comes back as I cover the games. Stay tuned for another post on the first day covering the opening ceremonies!