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02/09/2010

Welcome to the Olympics

Steve Russell, Staff Photographer

Welcome to the photoblog, which for the duration of the Olympics will be the Olympic Photoblog!

We hope to bring you stories about the games and looks behind the scenes from the events we cover and the gadgets we use to cover them!

The Team made up of Richard Lautens, Bernard Weil, Rick Madonik, Randy Risling, Tara Walton, Rick Eglinton and myself will have at least one us here us  blog each day.

I'm pretty excited to be at the Olympics, it will be my fourth games. And on the flight over I began to think about my favourite Olympic moments.

The one that stood out for me, still has to be a sunny day in Pragelato Plan. The day Chandra Crawford surprised everyone an won the cross country sprint race.

I wrote about it at the end of those games, here is the story,

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Chandra  Crawford surprised the field and herself by winning Gold in the Ladies Sprint, a 1.1 km race in Pragelato at the Torino 2006 XX Winter Olympics. 

The Olympics offer challenges to any photographer. Because of the nature of most of the sports - huge, massive, expansive - well, big fields of play - much of our coverage is done with long lenses with teleconverters, a piece of equipment that allows us to increase the focal length of a lens.

Rarely are we close to an athlete. In fact, we have to constantly battle through a small army of host broadcasters who are usually about two feet away from the athlete as they await a score.

So it was a treat when cross-country skier Chandra Crawford came out of nowhere to win her gold.

It was special to watch an athlete, heck, an underdog, dominate all the way through the quarter-finals, then semis and then the final.

What made it even more special for me, was that the finish line of the cross-country venue runs up to a three-step riser that houses about 60 photographers covering the finish line.

I woke up at 5 a.m. and spent two hours on buses to stake out a front row spot at 8:30 a.m. for the final that was going to start at 1:55 p.m.

It was cold and damp in Pragelato Plan that morning with a wind that chilled you to the bone, but the wait was worth the front-row spot.

Through my long lens, I saw Crawford cross the line and a deep smile, with a touch of disbelief, develop. Then, over the sound of my shutter and the 59 others around me blasting at eight frames per second, I actually heard someone winning a gold medal.

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Chandra Crawford crosses the finish line surprising the field and herself by winning Gold in the Ladies Sprint

Crawford crossed the line and I could hear her. She laughed. As she got really close to us, and we began to reach for a shorter lens, she said "Holy sh--." I heard her laugh again and, when her teammates tackled her, heard her ask, "Where's Beckie?" her fellow Canadian who finished fourth.

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Chandra Crawford falls to the ground as teammates approach her! 


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Chandra is engulfed by teamates after winning Gold. 

Her medal presentation was probably one of the best and most fun to cover. But I will always remember hearing her win that gold.

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Chandra Crawford wears her gold medal! 

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Chandra Crawford sends her medal flying with victory jumps!


Link to our Beijing Photo Blog

-srussell@thestar.ca 

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