Laying it all on the line for a chance at the Olympics.
This past weekend Nordic skiers from around the world landed in Duluth to throw down for two days of really intense skiing. For some of them, it was a chance to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing! As a non-skier I went into this event with no experience witnessing this type of skiing in this close of proximity. I was granted a media pass, which allowed me access to the whole course and I was able to get in the nooks and crannies of the events and gain some real close perspective on speed, struggle, and pure grit. It was awesome!
Saturday was the sprint event and it was like watching human F1 cars rip around a "short" (1300m) distance, at full gas. It was fast and it was intense. There was lots of tight corners, lots of bodies vying for the same line, and lots of displays of pure power. being close enough to hear the rhythm of the skis on the snow matched with the pounding breath coming from their lungs as they passed me by on the sidelines was just like listening to a race car rev up.
Sunday brought a bit more of a tranquil setting. Fresh snow overnight kept the groomers busy and made for some sub-optimal ski conditions. Sunday was the long race that took the skiers up Spirit Mountain, repeatedly, and then sent them off into the woods. The remote parts of the loop were really fun to shoot. As I sat there with my camera I kept an eye out for small flashes of color that popped against the mostly "black and white" scenery. It felt similar to watching the pine boughs in hopes of catching a view of my favorite winter birds. The skiers were much more spaced out initially and the new snow dampened the noise from the stadium. It was often just the skier, by themselves, kicking and gliding through droopy pines. The juxtaposition of the race environment and the tranquility of the scenery made for some fun shots!
Overall, I had a blast watching this caliber of skiing take place and I felt fortunate that it happened so close to home. A huge shout out to DXC for all of their hard work making the Nordic Center into what it is today, an Olympic caliber race course. Congrats to the winners and I hope to see some of you on the podium in Beijing
Take a look below at some of the shots from the weekend,