Skating set-up frustrates photographers

By RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency


Korean, Chinese and Japanese photographers work through the night at the Pacific Coliseum in order to get the best photo position for the women's figure skating event Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010. (DANIEL MALLARD/QMI AGENCY)

VANCOUVER ó Yu-Na Kim, Mao Asada and Joannie Rochette put in hard work to get to the top of the figure-skating world.

But itís nothing compared to what Hojo Takashi went through to take their picture.

By the time the top skaters hit the Pacific Coliseum ice Thursday night, Takashi had been in the building for more than 21 hours ó making sure he was first in line to get the best photo position at rinkside.

ďNo sleep, no sleep,Ē the photographer for Japanís Nippon news network said of his personal Olympic feat.

There were 36 field-of-play photo positions available for the womenís free skate. The first-come, first-serve system is a mess. If photographers didnít queue up earlier than 8 a.m. ó some 13 hours before the event would end ó they were out of luck.

Nobuaki Tanaka of Japan Sports Co. arrived at midnight as Wednesday turned to Thursday. He was fourth in line.

Some attempted to sleep in the press facility, which officially opened at 6 a.m.

The armbands werenít handed out until 2 p.m. Ninety minutes before the skating starts, photographers have to be in their spots.

Then, itís lockdown mode. No food, no drink and no washroom breaks for at least five hours.

Itís certainly not comfortable. Itís also unnecessary.

ďItís been like this for two weeks,Ē said International Figure Skating magazine photographer Susan Russell, who has travelled the globe to cover the sport. ďThe photographers who are here havenít seen or been to anything else but this building. The Japanese have the most democratic system for deciding photo spots in the world.

ďThere, everyone gets a toll with a number when they arrive and each day, they draw numbers out of a bag. When yours comes up, you choose your position. And if you donít like it, you might swap with someone else. Iíve never seen anyone complain.Ē

Thatís certainly not the way it works in Vancouver.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

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