A Tribute to Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir

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Recently, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir announced their retirement from the sport of ice dance.  In the days since, many articles have been written about the Canadian figure skaters whose on-ice partnership and off-ice friendship has spanned the past 22 years.

As someone who has had the pleasure and privilege of getting to know Tessa & Scott over the past several years, I too would like to share a few thoughts about this legendary duo.

With Glowing Hearts

Back in 2010, I served as a volunteer at the Vancouver Olympics and had the good fortune of attending more than 30 events throughout the course of the Games.

Unfortunately, I was not at the Pacific Coliseum on the final day of the ice dance competition, so I can’t claim to have witnessed Virtue & Moir’s historic gold medal performance in person.

Nevertheless, I had the pleasure of watching them skate in the Olympic Gala and later had a chance to congratulate them on their remarkable achievement when we crossed paths at the Vancouver airport following the Games.

When I first met Tessa & Scott, I was immediately struck by how gracious they were.  At the time, I never could have imagined that I’d eventually go on to form a friendship with the pair and have the opportunity to document some of their most memorable accomplishments in the years that followed.

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Combining Artistry & Athleticism

As a kid, I wasn’t an especially gifted athlete, but I loved staying active.  That said, while most boys my age played organized sports like hockey, I took a slightly different approach by taking dance lessons instead.

Looking back on it now, I realize that much of my appreciation for figure skating, and ice dance in particular, stems from the nearly 15 years that I spent doing ballet, tap and jazz.

Dancers are not only trained to develop their strength and stamina, but also become skilled at expressing themselves through movement, and captivating the audience by making difficult maneuvers look effortless. Of course, the same can be said of competitive figure skaters.

In all my life, I’ve never seen anyone combine artistry and athleticism more perfectly than Virtue & Moir.

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Making History

Since 2010, I’ve witnessed Tessa & Scott prepare for and compete at multiple events, including the ISU World Figure Skating Championships, the Canadian National Skating Championships, the Autumn Classic International, and the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.  I’ve also had the pleasure of watching them perform several times with Stars on Ice, the CNE, and The Thank You Canada Tour.

Like anyone who’s ever seen Tessa & Scott skate, I’ve always been in complete awe of their athletic abilities, their artistic talents, and their undeniable chemistry as a pair.  Being rink-side when they won gold in PyeongChang was an almost spiritual experience.

As a photographer, it’s been exhilarating to document these performances, but the truth is, most of the credit for the resulting images is owed to the skaters themselves.  As I often say, I just press a button; the athletes do all the work.

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Setting the Stage

It’s very hard to describe the feeling of being in such close proximity to someone (or, in this case, a duo) who is quite literally the best in the world at what they do.

While millions of people have had the opportunity to watch Tessa & Scott compete, relatively few have had the chance to see first-hand all the hard work that goes into each of their performances.

As someone who has been offered this rare glimpse behind the scenes, I must say, watching Tessa & Scott practice is every bit as inspiring as watching them compete. Every movement has a purpose, every stroke is executed in perfect unison, and every lift seems to defy the laws of physics.

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Pursuing Excellence

In recent years, I’ve often been asked what Virtue & Moir are like in person.  For those who may be wondering, I can honestly say, without reservation or exaggeration, that Tessa & Scott are two of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever met.

Tessa is beautifully poised, brilliantly smart, and incredibly thoughtful.  Scott is wickedly funny, extremely down-to-earth, and unfailingly supportive.  Together, they possess a synergy that is as impressive as it is rare.

From the very first time that I met them until now, I have always been inspired by their unified and relentless pursuit of excellence.

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Recognizing Greatness

In conclusion, I simply want to congratulate Tessa & Scott on a truly remarkable figure skating career and wish them continued success in their future endeavors.

I would also like to express my sincerest thanks to the pair for entrusting me to photograph them on and off the ice on so many special occasions. I cannot tell you what an honour it’s been.

Throughout their 22-year on-ice partnership, Tessa & Scott transcended their sport, and I have no doubt that they will each continue to make a significant and meaningful difference in the lives of everyone they cross paths with.  Best of luck, you two!

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Below is a gallery featuring a very small sample of the thousands of photos I’ve taken of Tessa & Scott over the years… Enjoy!

 

Memories of PyeongChang 2018

Can you recall exactly where you were and what you were doing on this date last year?

Personally, I will never forget February 20, 2018.  For me and countless others, it will forever be etched in mind as the day that Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir delivered an on-ice performance for the ages.

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February 20, 2018: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir performing their free dance at Gangneung Ice Arena, earning them an Olympic Gold Medal in the ice dance competition. (PHOTO: Greg Kolz)

I hadn’t really planned on writing a retrospective piece about my experience photographing the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.  However, as images and stories continue to show up on social media marking the one-year anniversary of the Games, I can’t help but reflect on what a privilege it was to bear witness to such an incredible series of athletic achievements; not just by Virtue & Moir, but many others as well.

My memories of PyeongChang are so vivid that it really does feel like just yesterday that I was in Korea serving as the official photographer for Skate Canada and Speed Skating Canada.  I’m rarely at a loss for words, but a year later, it’s still hard for me to adequately describe just how special and impactful the experience was.

While I’m quite proud of how I was able to manage and execute this monumental assignment, the truth is, I simply could not have done it without the help of so many others.  In particular, the advice I received from several photographers who have documented previous Olympic Games proved invaluable.

I want to specifically thank André Ringuette, Dave Holland, Jean Levac, Adrian Wyld, Sean Kilpatrick and André Forget for taking time out of their busy schedules to provide me with tips and guidance in the months leading up to the Games.

I also want to highlight what a pleasure it was to shoot alongside such accomplished photographers as Danielle Earl, Jason Ransom, Leah Hennel, Paul Chiasson, Vaughn Ridley, Steve Russell and David Jackson, among others, during the Games. I was (and continue to be) amazed and inspired by their work.

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February 20, 2018: Scott Moir & Tessa Virtue celebrate their Olympic Gold Medal victory in the ice dance competition at Gangneung Ice Arena. (PHOTO: Greg Kolz)

Because there were so many highlights throughout the Olympics, it’s very difficult for me to narrow the list down to just a few favourites.

Seeing Team Canada enter PyeongChang Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony, witnessing Kim Boutin overcome incredible adversity to earn three medals in short track at her first Olympics, and watching the figure skating squad earn gold in the team event are some of my most cherished memories.

Of course, the one Olympic moment that stands out for me above all others involves being rinkside for Virtue & Moir’s breathtaking performance of Moulin Rouge in the ice dance competition.

Passion. Connected.

Over the past nine years, I’ve had the privilege of photographing Tessa and Scott both on and off the ice.  During that time, I’ve been afforded the rare opportunity to witness first-hand just how incredibly hard they’ve worked to become the very best in the world at what they do.  And while I am certainly a fan of their skating, I am even more fond of them as people.

Tessa and Scott are exceptional athletes and artists, and there is no question that their connection with one another is unparalleled.  However, what has always impressed me the most is how genuine and kind they are.  To me, this duo represents excellence in the truest sense of the word, and I am extremely grateful to them for their faith and confidence in me as a photographer.

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February 20, 2018: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir performing Moulin Rouge at Gangneung Ice Arena, which earned them an Olympic Gold Medal in the ice dance competition. (PHOTO: Greg Kolz)

When photographing major events, it’s of paramount importance to stay focused and impartial to the subject(s) you’re trying to capture.  This is especially critical to keep in mind while documenting sports, since the action moves very quickly and there is zero margin for error.

I must admit that it was quite a challenge keeping my emotions in check during Tessa and Scott’s free dance at the Gangneung Ice Arena.  In fact, I don’t know of anyone who watched the performance in-person or on TV that wasn’t completely mesmerized.

Nevertheless, I did the very best I could to not get too wrapped-up in what I was seeing, and in the end, I think the images I captured turned out about as well as I could have hoped.

The Hug Seen Around the World

Immediately following the performance, while Tessa and Scott were anxiously awaiting their score, I wanted to better position myself to capture their reaction when the results were announced.  Although I was initially located at the opposite end of the ice, I managed to hustle and claim a spot just a few feet away from the “Kiss & Cry” area with mere seconds to spare.

When Tessa and Scott were declared Olympic champions, they immediately started celebrating with their coaches.  As I was taking photos of this jubilant scene, Tessa approached and asked if she could give me a hug.  As a rule, sports photographers must be as discrete as possible and, as one might expect, interactions with the athletes are generally forbidden. In this particular instance, however, how could I possible say no?!

Of course, little did I realize that our embrace was being captured on camera.  Within seconds, my phone began buzzing incessantly, as friends and family sent text messages indicating that they’d spotted me on TV back home in Canada.  The ‘hug seen around the world’ lives on in the form of an animated gif and still brings a smile to my face, even though I appear terribly unprofessional.

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As the celebration continued, I aimed to capture images of Tessa and Scott’s family and friends in the stands. I distinctly recall catching the attention of Tessa’s sister Jordan and asking her to assemble the group for a photo.  It was wonderful to see them huddled together as one big happy family, beaming with pride. Perhaps that explains why I was suddenly unable to contain my own excitement and proceeded to do a big first-pump, which Jordan and I have joked about several times since.

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February 20, 2018: The Virtue and Moir Families celebrate Tessa & Scott’s gold medal victory in the ice dance competition at the Gangneung Ice Arena. (PHOTO: Greg Kolz)

More Than A Feeling

Once the victory ceremony began and Tessa and Scott took their rightful place at the top of the podium, I was immediately struck by the incredible bond the two skaters share.  Given that they have spent over twenty years together as ice dance partners and best friends, I’m not sure that anyone other than Tessa and Scott can truly understand or appreciate the uniqueness of their relationship.

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February 20, 2018: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir sshare a moment atop the podium following their Olympic Gold Medal victory in the ice dance competition. (PHOTO: Greg Kolz)

That said, I’m truly honoured that one of the photos I took during the victory ceremony was later chosen by Tessa and Scott to appear on the cover of their new book, which was released in October 2018.  When I learned that the reason they selected that image was because of the feelings that it captured and conveyed, I was very moved.  For them to appreciate my work in such a meaningful way was incredibly humbling.

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Overall, as I look back on my experience as a photographer at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, I still cannot believe how fortunate I was.

In addition to the people I mentioned above, I owe a debt of gratitude to Skate Canada (Emma Bowie) and Speed Skating Canada (Patrick Godbout) for enlisting me, to the Canadian athletes for inspiring me each and every day throughout the Games, to my friends and colleagues for offering me their unwavering support and encouragement, and to my parents and sister for cheering me on as though I too was an Olympian.

Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to document future Olympic Games, but regardless of whether that comes to pass, I will always have cherished memories of PyeongChang 2018.  Thank you for allowing me to share some of these with you!

Sincerely,

Greg

Canada strikes Gold!

Day #3 of the Games began bright and early, with a complete and (somewhat) healthy breakfast in the main dining hall at the GMV, followed by a relatively short (but blazing hot) shuttle ride to the GIA to photograph the final day of the figure skating Team Event.

For this session, I was seated directly behind the judging panel in what was known as Section ‘B’ (Adios, Section ‘X’!) . It was a slightly elevated position, but offered an excellent perspective of the entire ice surface. I honestly couldn’t have hoped for a better spot to photograph the free programs in the Men’s, Ladies’ and Ice Dance categories.

Based on the previous day’s results, Canada was solidly positioned in 1st place overall. Once the competition resumed, strong performances by Patrick Chan and Gabby Daleman, who finished 1st and 3rd in their respective categories, ensured that Canada would remain in the gold medal position.

A mesmerizing performance by the team co-captains, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, was icing on the proverbial cake. In the end, Canada finished with a total of 73 points, ahead of OAR (66 points), and USA (62 points).

I cannot describe how thrilling it was to witness and document Canada’s very first gold medal of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games!

Going into the competition, Canada did not veil the fact that they were aiming for gold in the Team Event, and legitimately felt they had the best possible squad to make that happen. I’m no expert, but based on the end result, it would seem to me that their plan was executed to perfection.

I must say, I was particularly proud of Patrick Chan, who showcased a terrific free program, and finally realized his dream of winning an Olympic gold medal.

It was also terrific to see the Canadian figure skaters supporting one another throughout the Team Event. Many of the skaters have grown up together, and I’m sure that the Olympics have already proven to be an incredible shared experience that they will always cherish.

Immediately following the conclusion of the ice dance category, there was a venue ceremony to recognize and applaud the top three teams overall. After the podium presentation, the medalists skated around the ice and posed for pictures. By this time, I had already made my way down to ice level and was able to capture some terrific shots of the Canadian skaters celebrating their gold medal victory.

Once the venue ceremony wrapped-up, I quickly sorted, edited, and uploaded a series of photos. I then had to make my way to PyeongChang Olympic Plaza (POP) for the medal ceremony.

In this case, getting to the venue required me to take three separate shuttle buses (GIA->GMV->IBC->POP). Upon arrival, I then had to make my way through the security, register at the venue media centre, toss my belongings in a locker, and get into position for the ceremony…

Owning the Podium

For those who may be wondering, medal ceremonies are scheduled to take place every evening throughout the Games, at PyeongChang Olympic Plaza, beginning at 7:00pm local time.

During the outdoor ceremony, the top three competitors from each event the previous day (or in some cases, the same day) are feted on the podium, and presented with their medals by officials from the International Olympic Committee. Next, the flags are raised while the national anthem of the victor is played. The medalists are then ushered across the stage to allow media and spectators to take photos of the athletes with their new hardware.

Following the ceremony, the athletes are brought down a ramp to the mixed zone area, where accredited journalists have the opportunity to interview them. EP Photographers are also able to position themselves in a designated area of the mixed zone to snap close-up shots of the athletes with their shiny new medals, which is always fun.

On this particular evening, I had the pleasure of photographing several Canadian medalists, including Justine Dufour-Lapointe (Silver – Women’s Moguls), Laurie Blouin (Silver – Slopestyle Snowboard), Ted-Jan Bloemen (Silver – Men’s 5,000m), and of course, the seven figure skaters who participated in the Team Event and earned our country its first gold medal of the Games.

For the ceremony itself, rather than requesting a photo position in the pit (a narrow moat between the stage and the audience), I opted instead for a position on a riser situated at the soundboard behind the crowd. I did this to ensure that I could capture photos of the entire figure skating team. I had a hunch that they would jump onto the podium in unison (as they had done in Sochi four years ago), so I wanted to make sure that I was ready when the moment came. Thankfully, the preparation paid off, and I made the shot!

Afterwards, I ventured to the mixed zone to capture a few shots of the Olympic Champions with their medals. I then had to pack up my gear, and make my way back to Gangneung as quickly as possible, in order to photograph the Canadians competing in the Women’s 1,500m long track speed skating event.

Life is a Korean Highway

It took me about an hour to get to the Gangneung Oval. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at the venue, two of the three Canadian speed skaters (Josie Morrison & Kali Christ) had already completed their races. On the upside, I still managed to capture some decent shots of Brianne Tutt in action, so all was not lost.

So, to re-cap… I started my day at 6:00am, I ended up photographing a total of 11 Canadian athletes at 3 different venues, in 2 different clusters, requiring me to take no fewer than 8 separate shuttle buses, and eventually managed to make it back to the GMV just in time to grab dinner (4-cheese pizza) before the dining hall closed at 1:00am.

Now the time has come to sort and edit a few photos, head to bed, and start all over again in less than 5 hours.

Remember kids: Sleep is for the weak!

 

One for all, and all for one

Figure Skating Team Event

The Figure Skating Team Event resumed on Sunday, February 11th, with three disciplines, including Ice Dance (Short Dance), Ladies (Short Program), and Pair (Free Skating).

In the Ice Dance competition, Canada was represented by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. The duo performed their Latin-themed short dance, and finished in 1st place ahead of siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani of the United States, and Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of the OAR. This earned Canada 10 points in the Team Event.

In the Ladies category, Team Canada showcased Kaetlyn Osmond. The 22 year-old earned a score of 71.38, which was good enough for 3rd place, behind Evgenia Medvedeva of OAR, and Carolina Kostner of Italy. This gave Canada an additional 8 points in the overall competition.

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford followed-up their solid result in the Pair Short Program two days earlier with another stellar performance in the Free Skate. Their score of 148.51 was good enough for 1st place overall, thus earning Canada 10 more points in the Team Event, and a 6-point lead over the Olympic Athletes from Russia going into the final day of the event.

As mentioned previously, Canada went into the Team Event as the odds-on favourite to win gold. It was great to see the skaters continue to live up to expectations, and perform head-and-shoulders above the rest of the competing nations. While I would have preferred to be shooting from a closer position to the ice (I was up in the rafters in ‘Section X’, which was about as far from the field of play as you could possibly be), at least I was in good company. I got to shoot alongside my friend, and figure skating photographer extraordinaire, Danielle Earl, as well as Postmedia photographer Leah Hennel, which was a lot of fun.

Once the Team Event wrapped up for the day, I then had to make my way next door to the Gangneung Oval for the Men’s 5000m Speed Skating competition.

Speed Skating – Men’s 5,000m

Team Canada only had one participant in the Men’s 5,000m race, but Ted-Jan Bloemen was hardly a token entry. As the reigning world record holder in the distance, Ted-Jan was a legitimate contender for gold in PyeongChang.

Ted-Jan skated in the second-to-last pairing, finishing in a time of 6:11.616, which was literally 2 thousandths of a second faster than the man he was racing against; Sverre Lunde Pedersen of Norway, who finished in 6:11.618. This meant that Ted-Jan was provisionally in 1st place while Lunde Pedersen was in 2nd, with only two skaters remaining. The final pair consisted of the legendary Sven Kramer of the Netherlands and Patrick Beckert of Germany.

Sven Kramer solidified his reputation as arguably the greatest speed skater of all time, with a new Olympic record of 6:09.76, thus earning his 4th Olympic gold medal, and 8th Olympic medal overall.

The Venue Photo Manager at GOV was a Brazilian fellow named Romulo Macedo. I mention him specifically because he was kind enough to allow me to photograph the venue ceremony from inside the oval. To be one of only 6 photographers granted access to this prime shooting position, literally just a few feet in front of the podium, was a huge thrill.

While Ted-Jan was no doubt pleased to win an Olympic silver medal, you could tell that he had his heart set on gold. I’m sure that he will use this result to fuel his resolve in the Men’s 10,000m race scheduled for February 15th.

All in all, it was a great day for Team Canada and me personally, and hopefully a sign of things to come in the days ahead!

Let the Games Begin!

Friday evening marked the beginning of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.  In fact, a handful of sporting events kicked-off on Wednesday, but the Opening Ceremony and the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron signified the official commencement of the Games.

Before I share a few thoughts on the Opening Ceremony, allow me to not-so-briefly re-cap my first few days in Korea…

The Road to PyeongChang

My journey from Ottawa to PyeongChang began bright and early on Tuesday morning (4:00am to be exact), and didn’t culminate until I arrived at the Gangneung Media Village (GMV) at approximately 8:00pm local time on Wednesday.  From start to finish, I was in transit for over 26 hours.

Thankfully, the trip was a smooth one, and perhaps most importantly, I arrived with all my baggage and camera gear intact. While it would have been nice to check into my room and simply dump my stuff and head to bed, there was still a lot of work to do before I could call it a day.

My first priority was to venture to the Main Press Centre (MPC) to sign some paperwork and pick up my official Olympic photographer’s sleeve, which, in addition to my “Olympic Identity and Accreditation Card” (OIAC), is a critical accessory.  Simply put, without both items, I would not be allowed to enter any Olympic venue to take pictures.

Much like the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, which included two distinct venue ‘clusters’ (Vancouver and Whistler), the PyeongChang Games are laid out in a similar way.  In this case, the GMV is located in the Coastal Cluster in Gangneung, and the MPC is located in the Mountain Cluster in Alpensia.  The two clusters are approximately an hour apart.  To get from one to the other, accredited personnel can take a special shuttle bus service.

By the time I made it to the MPC, received my photo sleeve, and then returned to the GMV, it was past midnight.  In other words, from the time I woke up in Ottawa on Tuesday, to the time I made it to bed, I was awake for more than 30 straight hours.

“Day -1”

On Thursday, after a few hours of sleep, I spent the morning familiarizing myself with the Coastal Cluster, and in particular the two venues where I will be spending the bulk of my time; the Gangneung Ice Arena (GIA) and the Gangneung Oval (GOV).  GIA is where the figure skating and short track speed skating events take place, and GOV is where all the long track speed skating events are held.

Team Canada’s long track team held a pre-competition press conference on Thursday afternoon at Gangneung Olympic Village.  Since I’m here shooting for Speed Skating Canada, I was asked to photograph the presser.  I must say, it was very inspiring to hear the athletes describe their excitement in advance of the Games, and express their pride in representing Canada on the world stage.

Later that evening, I decided to head to the Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre to photograph the qualification round of the men’s normal hill individual competition.  Having never shot ski jumping before, and being positioned at least 200 yards from the take off, my photos weren’t great, but it still felt terrific to be shooting an Olympic event.

At the conclusion of ski jumping, I returned to the GMV and prepared for Friday’s assignment: the figure skating team event.

Go Team!

Friday morning began with breakfast at the GMV dining hall at 6:00am, followed by a brief shuttle ride to GIA.  A mandatory photo briefing is held two hours before every event, which, in this case, meant arriving at the rink before 8:00am.

Since all Olympic figure skating disciplines are considered ‘high-demand’ events, even photographers require tickets.  You can’t simply show up and claim a photo position; these are generally pre-determined by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  For instance, photo agencies such as Getty, Reuters and AP, are placed in prime spots around the field of play, whereas all other photographers end up in second-tier positions.

I’m hardly complaining.  The IOC makes every effort to ensure that photographers get the best images possible, regardless of the event or the venue.  While shooting from an elevated position at GIA wouldn’t have necessarily been my first choice, it does allow for a difference perspective of the action on the ice.

For those who may not be familiar with the figure skating team event, it consists of 10 countries that each designate skaters to compete in women’s, men’s, pairs, and ice dance categories.  Countries earn points based on their final ranking in each category.  Heading into the Olympics, Canada was widely considered the favourite to win gold in the team event.

In this case, the competition began with the men, followed by the pairs.  Canada’s representatives in these two categories were Patrick Chan and Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford.  Patrick placed 3rd with his short program, and Meagan and Eric placed 2nd with theirs.  Their combined result meant that Canada sat in 1st place overall after the first day of the competition.

Following the figure skating, I returned to the GMV to change into some warmer clothing before heading to the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony…

Let the Games Begin

PyeongChang Olympic Stadium is a temporary venue, which was constructed with only two events in mind: the opening and closing ceremonies.  It’s an open air stadium, located near the Alpensia Ski Resort, with seating capacity for 35,000 spectators.

While the temperatures here in Korea are generally warmer than they are back home in Ottawa at this time of year, it’s still winter, so there’s definitely a chill in the air.  Because the Opening Ceremony was being held outdoors, and I was required to be there at least two hours before the event began, I made sure to wear as many layers as possible in order to stay warm.

Because Canada’s co-flag bearers are ice dancers, and I happen to be at the Olympics serving as the official photographer for Skate Canada, I put in a special request for a high-demand ticket so that I could attend and take photos throughout the ceremony.  Fortunately, my request was granted and I was able to capture some very memorable moments over the course of the evening.

I’d be curious to know what those of you who watched the event from home on TV thought of the ceremony.  Witnessing it live was a truly mesmerizing experience.  The various elements of the event were at times poignant, humorous, uplifting, and thought-provoking.  Furthermore the entire evening was a feast for the eyes (and the camera), with such a tremendous mix of colours and themes.

Needless to say, my favourite moment of the evening was watching two very good friends of mine, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, carry the Canadian flag into the stadium.  Being able to photograph such a significant moment in both of their lives was such a privilege!

Unfortunately, I did not have an especially great view of the Olympic Cauldron being lit by Korean figure skater and Vancouver 2010 gold medallist Yuna Kim.  However, after the ceremony ended, I was able to get a much closer look at the cauldron, which was cool.

All in all, it was a very memorable evening, and a terrific way to kick-off my Olympic adventure.  This blog entry is already much longer than I intended, so rather than adding more words, I’d much rather share a few photos which will invariably do a much better job of describing the Opening Ceremony than I can.

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog.  I hope to post additional entries in the days ahead.  Please stay tuned!