Sunday, January 24, 2010

US Snowboarding Grand Prix

While Julie was doing her Sundance volunteer work, I took off for the US Snowboarding Grand Prix at Park City. This was the last stop of the series and at the end of the competition, the US Olympic snowboarding team was announced.

Thousands of people were out for the event. This is actually when everyone was heading down from the half pipe, but that was the first time I thought to catch the crowd.

If you haven't seen a half pipe, think of a long, giant U-shaped ski run. You can get some idea of size from this boarder, who is still heading down into the bottom. They dye the snow blue to help the boarders figure out which way is which.

When they come shooting out of the pipe to do all their twists and turns, they are right there in front of you, moving at high speed. It's a rush.

The boards are very colorful and some have intricate artwork on them. You can get a nice view because they seem to be upside down about half the time.

Or they just come sailing by sideways.

I would definitely kill myself trying this. While I didn't see anyone get hurt, a boarder did get injured very seriously in the PCMR half pipe a week or so ago. He hit his head on the lip of the half pipe. He ended up with one or two surgeries to relieve the pressure in his brain. I think he is doing better, but he was one of our leading Olympic candidates.

This was one of the women competing. While they do things I could never dream of doing, this is one sport where you see a dramatic difference between the men and women. For whatever reason, the men do much bigger tricks.

It is hard for me to tell all the grabs and twists they do. It's even harder at night, in the snow. They just fly by so quickly!

And we will end with a series of pictures from the winning run. Shaun White, a Park City local and Olympic Gold Medal winner, was the last of the men to go. The crowd had already been amazed with earlier performances. Then Shaun came down and launched so far out of the pipe the crowd just erupted.

He came out of the pipe about fifty feet above me and dropped back in a good ways down from me.

Look how high he is above the crowd! If you double-click on the picture, you can see his signature red hair flying behind him.

Fly for a while, then start your tricks.

Still way, way over my head.

And he goes back into the pipe below me.

Another great event, and fun to see another batch of Olympians ready to head to Vancouver.

At some point, I am going to learn how to photograph all this. Last night it was people moving extremely quickly, at night, with snow falling, and you aren't allowed to use a flash. Earlier this week it was a mine tunnel, completely dark, with water dripping everywhere. Even trying to photograph Jasper as he romps through the snow can be a challenge. I think I will switch to shooting indoor flower arrangements.
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