Case Study: Page (1) of 1 - 05/01/18

Looking Back

Capturing the Moments, Memories of the 2018 Winter Olympics

By Miles Weston

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Expect the unexpected.  If you're lucky, you'll capture the moment when an Olympian realizes his/her goal and share it with the world.

These are the guidelines Jeff Swinger, "USA Today Sports" photographer, used in covering the three past Olympics and this year's 23rd Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.  

Swinger noticed but ignored the geopolitical and sports tampering issues leading up to the 17 days of events in February because for him, and the sports video and still photojournalists, it was the athletes' stories that counted.

Bundled Up - Jeff Swinger (center), "USA Today Sports" photographer, was prepared for the PyeongChang Olympics because he spends free time at home in Park City, Utah skiing, hiking, shooting and enjoying the outdoors.  

While early media reports labeled the weather for the event dangerously cold; Swinger, who lives in Utah, simply referred to it as "invigorating."

He noted that it was "crazy" cold prior to and during the early days of the Olympics, which made it difficult for the production technical team.  "Laying cables to the key venues was not an easy job," he said.  "Cables were constantly cracking/breaking and replacement was a never-ending process in the early days of the event.

"Locals referred to "knife winds," because they would cut right through you and never really stopped," he added.  "It just varied in velocity."

For his part, Swinger had brought along cold weather and hiking gear that he used during the winter months in his hometown of Park City, Utah, and shed layers as the temperatures rose during the day so he was "comfortable."

His biggest concern was how his equipment - Canon cameras, iMac and OWC storage - would handle the weather.

"The gear never failed me," he emphasized.  "The biggest issue was that the extreme temperatures rapidly drain batteries, so I carried fully charged backup batteries inside my jacket, so the body heat would protect them and then I would replace the depleted batteries ... frequently."

Having photographed indoor and outdoor sporting events as well as a wide range of corporate events, Swinger had developed a new processing and storage plan for the PyeongChang Olympics.

 "I upgraded to a new refurbished MacBook Pro from OWC because the computer that I used in Rio couldn't handle the workflow speed I had to do," he said.

When he returned to his room in the evening, he backed up his files to the 2TB OWC Mercury On-The-Go Pro he had come to rely on in Rio and added a 1TB Envoy Pro.

"I simultaneously transferred files to both drives and kept the originals on the laptop," he said. "It was the fastest process I have ever had on the road." 

Capture, Store Excitement - Silver medal winner Mikaela Shiffrin (USA), left, photo bombs gold medal winner Michelle Gisin (SUI) and bronze medal winner Wendy Holdener (SUI) as they celebrate their victories in the ladies alpine skiing combined event. Once back at the media housing facility, Swinger downloaded the day's shots to his MacBook and two OWC storage units ... just in case.  

A veteran of four Olympics - summer and winter - Swinger found PyeongChang to be a different experience. 

Rather than shooting the skiing action as he had done during world cup events, he was responsible for capturing the reactions at the finish line and podium awards for the men's/women's Alpine speed events including downhill skiing, super G, giant slalom, cross-country, biathlon and some short-long track skating. 

Because the South Korean athletes were very good and had a huge local following, he said there was a lot of excitement and anticipation for the short track competition.

Skating Crowd - To get a perfect location during the short track skating, Swinger arrived at the venue three hours early.  Fortunately, one of his fellow "USA Today Sports" photographers went to the Olympic Village and got him a hamburger, which he promptly enjoyed.  

"I got to the venue three hours prior to the race," he recalled, "because I didn't want to fight for 'pole position' and by the time the event started, the photographers section was overstuffed. It's just something you put up with at most Olympic events."

Swinger's Olympic moment was the cross-country skiing.

He had shot Jessie Diggins portrait at the Olympics Media Summit and captured several images of her during her cross-country events.  

"Like all of the contestants, she gave everything she had," he recalled. "And after crossing the finish line, she collapsed in complete exhaustion.

Cross-Country Contestants - Every female skier knew this was the chance for her to shine during the cross-country skiing event; and at the finish line, the first thing they did was collapse in complete exhaustion.  

"What stood out to me," he explained, "was later that day she posted a social media photo of her in the snow and said, 'Don't be sorry for me because I just missed a medal ... be happy WITH me, because I fought like a hell today! I pushed my body so far past it's limits I'm actually kind of amazed I didn't pass out on that final climb. Looking back and knowing you gave it absolutely everything you had without holding back is a great feeling. 30km of racing down ... 3 race days to go!'

"I was blown away by her positive Instagram message with a photo of her looking like she was dead after the race," he added.

And she did bounce back.

In her final event, her partner Kikkan Randall and she competed in a cross-country relay and she raced to a very emotional gold.  

On the day Swinger was returning home, he connected with the two at the Seoul Incheon International Airport and told them how he appreciated her positive attitude and their win.

He Medaled - At the airport before departure, Swinger connected with the two U.S. female gold medal cross-country team sprint freestyle winners (l-r) Kikkan Randall and Jessica Diggins.  He said they were gracious enough to let him have his Olympics moment with them. @swingmanphoto

"They asked if I wanted to get a picture with them and what could I say?" he asked rhetorically.  "They gave me the gold medal to hold and it was my Olympic moment!"

In addition to his medal photo, Swinger shot more than 200GB of photos at this year's PyeongChang Olympics.

"It wasn't as much as I took in Rio," he commented, "but still, it was a lot."

Back to Work - After returning home, one of the first things Swinger did was catalog, sort and archive his images from the 2018 Winter Olympics on his Mercury Elite Pro RAID.

Shortly after returning home from his 20 days of Olympic travel, Swinger set about reviewing the events content, finalizing the event's photo organization and moving them to his OWC Mercury Elite Pro RAID.

"I think after all of these years of capturing some of the best images of sports action, wildlife, scenery and business events; I have an on-the-road and office storage solution that works," he concluded.  "I've never felt so secure with all of my files as I do with the mix of storage products that were designed with the pro in mind."

Undercover author Miles Weston has spent more than 30 years in the storage, software and video industry, indulging in, among other things, marketing activities in promoting PC, CE, communications, content technology and their applications . Contact Miles through his editor by clicking here.

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