I am catching up with my inbox and a variety of to do lists since getting home from Whistler on Monday afternoon. It was a pretty intense week in Whistler and driving back into Vancouver was a challenge. After a week of walking, bikes and tall trees, the sheer scale of the city filled me with anxiety. The noise, the traffic and the expanses of concrete and asphalt left me looking over my shoulder toward Whistler wishing that it was easier to stay.
Today’s images are from the Whip Off contest on Crabapple Hits just below mid mountain. The Whip Off must be among the most exciting Crankworx events to photograph. The quarters are small, the airs huge and the crowds are very enthusiastic. There were no shortages of close calls for photographers and spectators alike, and I even managed to catch a tumbling bike and rider.
The challenge with events like the Whip Off is that the action directly in front of the camera is generally so exciting that I found it difficult to pull back and consider not just the individual components, but the event as a whole including riders, the terrain, spectators and the scores of photographers on hand. I’ve been looking at the work of other photographers that were on site last Friday with envy and humility. What I see in the photography of others is often what I have missed in my own approach to a scene.
Crankworx produces such great photography every year, in part because it attracts so many of the most recognized names in the industry, but also because of the sheer numbers of photographers who descend on Whistler every year. You can’t swing a GoPro at the end of a pole without poking a guy in his 300 f2.8. Crankworx is a glass fest and the competition is fierce.
This is what the Whip Off looked like to me, but you should also check out the action at Pink Bike:
Pink Bike’s look at the Whip Off Worlds.
Thursday Night at the Pump Track
Yesterday was a tough day. As I shot, I saw little in the camera that excited me, rather, a lot that filled me with anxiety and doubt. Early on I had a mentor who said “I’d rather be lucky than good.” I never understood that. I always thought that if you were good enough you’d never need luck. I never wanted to rely on luck, to leave certain things to chance; when I got it right, I wanted to get it right not because I was lucky, but because I am good.
When I wrapped last night at the Rockshox Pump Track in Whistler’s Olympic Plaza I was feeling neither good nor lucky. I wasn’t looking forward to the arduous task of choosing my least bad images to share with the Crankworx photo team. It turns out being lucky isn’t so bad. I came away with a few images from last night that I am happy with. Not to say there aren’t a lot of images bound for the bin, because there are, but rather, I am grateful for having something to show that I am reasonably happy with.
But maybe luck is a outcome of experience, maybe it’s true that the harder one works, the luckier one gets.
“Write your injuries in dust, your benefits in marble.”
This morning, between editing photos and sips of coffee, I have been fighting a losing battle. It is dry in Whistler, the fire hazard is listed as extreme, the dust is everywhere and it is saturating. My hair feels like straw and every sip from my water bottle includes what feels like a mouth full of grit. Cleaning myself is one thing, but dust is especially hard on camera equipment. It gets into everything and glass can act like a magnet for dust looking for a surface to land on. Dust requires constant maintenance; gotta keep your gear clear to get the best from it, and I think we can all agree that the challenges that come with trying to capture a mountain biker 20-30 feet in the air or another deep in a berm at 50km/hr are enough without battling the elements as well. But dust is also beautiful, it captures light and creates an aura of place and experience. These are a few shots from Tuesday on Whistler shot in and around the Garbanzo DH course and through the dust.
“Whether we fall by ambition, blood or lust, like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.”
I’ll be posting a few pics through my week at Crankworx starting with this past Sunday. Yesterday, Monday, was a down day and I took the opportunity to get caught up with some of the work I shot last week. I arrived in Whistler with a mountain of editing and post production to work through and I was grateful for the time to make some headway on it.
On Sunday my day started at the top of A Line with the Giant Bicycles Liv/Giant event which closed A Line for the morning to provide coaching and training for women downhillers. Watching the best in the world huck these jumps belies how difficult some of this terrain can be for some one starting out.
Women’s Only Liv/Giant A Line event:
I closed out the day in Skiers Plaza at the bottom of the Whistler Bike Park shooting the finish line of the Canadian Open Enduro. It was great to connect with so many familiar faces, many off course, and a few as they crossed the line. It was exciting to watch riders charge the finish line after an exhausting day, some throwing arms in the air in celebration and others at near collapse.
Stage 5 Finish – Canadian Open Enduro:
BC Bike Race’s own Andreas Hestler: