Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sledding again!

Fynn heads down the "Todesschlucht"
The kids got a bright red bobsled for Christmas and the weatherman was nice enough to bring us several perfect days for sledding on the hill behind our house. The bobsled seemed to have a mind of its own as it carried my children down the hill and delivered them into the refreshingly cool snow.

But on this particular day, the fastest mode of transport was the "Po-po Rutscher" (Butt slider? Just don't pronounce the German name like a Japanese businessman and expect me to keep a straight face!). The path winding down behind the hill was icy and the wall at the bottom did not seem to act as a deterrent.




That was a few days ago. The snow has all melted now. But speaking of snow, Stuttgart shipped in several tons from a glacier in Sölden in the Ötztal of Austria in order to put on the world snowboarding championship! Then they built a 36-meter tall jump with an elevator on the back and a landing ramp about 10 meters downwind of the jump. 
Lights were set up overhead for the event, which ran into the evening of January 5, a very cold day.

So I walked on over to the event around 3 pm, starting to take pictures from the south side first. Standing up on a railing, I got a good angle for the warm-ups.

To be honest, though, if you don't know any of the athletes and don't know anything about the sport, the jumps start to look about the same after six or seven guys leave the ramp.
So I thought I'd get a bit closer, ending up right at the foot of the jump. Several press photographers, noticing this was an awesome perspective for working this event, came to the guard at the gate nearby but were sent around to the other entry. I doubt any of them got this shot!

The sky turned blue and a cloud came up for the perfect background. As quickly as it came, it also disappeared.

After 20 minutes there, I started walking around some more, partially to get different shots, but also just to walk and warm up a bit. The next time I plan on shooting standing on snow and ice, I'm going to take an old piece of doubled-up cardboard with me to stand on! It was about -10° C but the Sony 700 did just fine!

Over on the north side, I got some good shots, too. There are a lot of sycamore trees there obscuring the view in many places. I am glad I had my 100-300mm lens with me. The full-format pros with their short but heavy 70-200 lenses didn't get anything like this:

Finally, around 4:30 pm I was frozen and ready to go home, but I wanted to get some pictures from one more angle. I liked how I could capture the Mercedes-Benz Arena in the background from the Gaisburg Bridge, so I waited there for a while.
And waited some more. In the following 15 minutes, the lights above the jump went on and off and on and off, the DJ/MC was still trying to sound excited and exciting after two hours of mixing informal German and English patter like, "The #7 snowboarder in the world, Blah-Blah!!!", and my bladder told me to get home sooner than later.

So this was the last good shot I got. It wasn't taken from what I would always remember as "the perfect vantage point" because at 4:45 pm I figured no one else would jump until 5 pm and I didn't really want to wait around that long.


  1. ...OMG, looks so dangerous, I feel frightened when I see your photos, which are wonderful, but here around some years ago in súmmer a boy, using a half pipe with his inliners, he jumped and slipped, fell on his head, crushed his scull and... is still suffering from mental pain and defects, could not finish his school (abitur) - has been handicapped since...
    flying has always been the dream of humanity... but....

    thanks for sharing your wonderful fotos....

  2. I'm trying to decide which are more amazing, the photos, or the jumpers.
    I've decided.
    The Photos are amazing.
    The jumpers are just plain crazy.