Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Salt Lake Shootout 2014

My second year participating in Visit Salt Lake's Ski Salt Lake Shootout photo competition was even more of a learning experience than the first. The week-long photo shoot kicked off with the athletes and photographers coming together to draft the teams and make a plan. My team consisted of photographer, Erik Hostetler, aka, Bro, and fellow athletes Eric Fabbri and Willie Nelson. I didn't know any of them going into the competition, but we quickly became acquainted as the days went on. The two other athletes are amazing skiers, able to huck and spin off huge features. I was slightly intimidated by their talent due to the fact that I hadn't skied super hard yet this season and I especially haven't been hitting any cliffs since probably last year's Shootout. However watching the guys ski and how they were able to work the camera inspired me to step up my game, expand my comfort zone and match their work ethic for the competition. 

We started the week at Snowbird with an early tram to catch untracked snow before the mountain opened to the public. Unfortunately the early light we were excited to capture quickly faded as clouds and fog rolled in as soon as we were ready to shoot. However, we were still able to explore more shots in the trees and came up with some cool photos in the Baldy area that separates Alta from Snowbird. 

Day 1, Snowbird, before the light went away for the rest of the week!
My favorite memory from the entire week was during that shot. As I skied down from shooting on Baldy I had a deep, creamy, untouched powder run all the way to the cat track. This joy struck me as my fondest memory of the shoot since it was unfettered skiing, not in front of the camera.

Photo shoots are cool because you get to work more creatively with an artist to capture a moment in your skiing. However, capturing that moment isn't as glamorous it may seem. The "one turn wonder" comes into play quite a bit, skiing into a section of untouched powder, making one deep turn and then stopping to see what the camera snapped. If that one turn wasn't quite right then you hike up and do it again multiple times or keep making your way to other untouched zones for one turn at a time.

Yet getting a snapshot of one moment in your turn or in the air can tell a lot about your skiing. For me, I saw a stiffness in my skiing. Perhaps the nerves of performing on command got to me. There can be a lot of pressure to get it right the first time. If you mess up, you're not just messing up one turn in a line down the mountain, you're messing up the shot for the photographer who just took time to set it all up. As this was a competition, there may have been even more pressure to get the shot right every time. I also felt pressure to perform in order to hold my own among my team. 

Entering Keyhole on Baldy for some deep soft snow
This week was a lot of work and a lot of fun. I was in a unique situation compared to everyone else in the competition because I still had to work. Asking for time off wasn't even something I considered as I was able to juggle both last year with my team no problem. So every morning I'd wake up early to meet my team at the resort of the day, ski hard for as long as I had, then hurry down the mountain back to school to pick up the kids and drive them up to Park City for training. After training I'd hurry back down the mountain to Salt Lake, contact my team and meet back up for any night shoots they had planned. Pulling triple sessions like that wore me out more-so than I'd been worn out in a long time. By the last day of the shoot I was so worked, yet knew the light wasn't quite at the end of the tunnel yet. I still had a three day race series at Snowbird to work with my own athletes and support them as best I could with what little to no energy I had left. Yet somehow I pulled it off and came out with a second place result in the Shootout and a successful race with the kids. I believe the way I was able to maintain sanity throughout the week was due to the creativity and excitement of skiing in front of the camera with new people, looking forward to a new and different ways to ski. 

Check out the video of how it all went down here: Team Erik Hostetler - Visit Salt Lake Shootout 2014

One of the coolest shots of me from the week at Solitude

One of the only shots taken "just skiing" at Solitude

Getting deep in it at Brighton

Sending off a pillow at Brighton. Side note - I had just jumped off a cliff nearby and got whiplash pretty good, landing flat. Maybe thats why I thought I looked stiff...
Fabbri showing Bro the shot, getting a cool angle from in the tree

Willie making that one turn wonder at Solitude

The guys polling down SolBright trail back to the base at Solitdue

Having fun with the team! Reverse snow angel

Building the take off for Willie to do his signature "Full Nelson" backflip with a double grab at Alta

Night shoot creek gap Bro had in mind for the contest, up Little Cottonwood Canyon at an old mine

Not going so well for Willie, mid air at Alta

Fabbri mid pow turn at Brighton on our last day

Fabbri sending of Brighton's iconic Millie cliffs

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