Thursday, February 22, 2018

My Olympic wish came true today!!!

All of my good friends know that I came to this Olympics with only one goal, and that was to watch the women of USA Hockey win a gold medal. You may have seen interviews of me when I talk about my toughest experience at past Olympics, and it is always the same story. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was shooting the US vs Canada gold medal game in Sochi and we were up by two goals with only minutes left in the game. I was all excited and switched lenses preparing to shoot the gold medal celebration on the ice. Well...for those of you who don't know, Canada ended up coming back and scoring two late goals to tie the game and another in overtime to win the game. It was devastating to the ladies. Seriously, it was horrible. All those tears and disappointment.

So this year, I came to PyeongChang with one desire, and that was to watch the ladies get redemption. And today that wish came through in a thrilling and nail biting game that went into overtime and then a shootout.

Here we go!

I photographed the women as they came out onto the ice from the locker room. You could tell that they meant business.

They played an amazing game against the dominant Canadians.

Hilary Knight and Monique Lamoureux both scored for the US. evening the score to 2 at the end of regulation.

I was sitting on the right side of the ice to catch this awesome celebration!

I was so stressed out, as I shot this game. I wanted our team to win so badly, and the US totally dominated the third period and overtime. I kept thinking, we deserve to win this one! But after overtime, it was still tied and so it went to a shoot out.

Both Gigi Marvin and Amanda Kessel scored goals, but so did two of the Canadians.

Both goaltenders were superb...

...but it was Jocelyn Lamoureux who made a beautiful move to get the puck past the Canadian goaltender. And I was thrilled to have captured that exact moment with my camera.

Definitely a reason to celebrate.

The last Canadian shooter made her attempt and Maddie Rooney (the US Goaltender) made the stop and the game was over!

I was beyond excited, but also had to keep my cool and keep shooting.

I shot these images from behind the glass and then sprinted for the penalty box door. As the team photographer, I was allowed to go on the ice to photograph the celebration and medal ceremony.

And boy did they celebrate.

The emotions ran really high after that epic win.

I looked over at the Canadian woman and saw the distraught on their faces. Remember, you don't win a silver, you lose a gold. And this brought me back to 4 years ago when I watched the American women in the same situation. Trust me, there was not one part of me that enjoyed watching this. I remember the pain of our loss in Sochi.

But this was our year, and it was so great to see smiles this time around.

I waited for the flags to raise just under the Olympic logo and grabbed this shot.

And then the ladies grouped up for their victory shot.

First it was the team photo and then the team photo with all the staff.

We were not allowed to move from where we were shooting, but I was able to get the attention of some of the ladies to get their photos with the gold medals.

I love this shot of Michael Scofield (former NFL Superbowl champ) lifting his fiance, Kendall Coyne, high into the air.

It must have been 30 minutes after the end of the game, and none of the ladies were leaving the ice. They were soaking it all in.

I decided to group them up for one more photo with the American flags, before they headed to the mix zone and their locker room.

Photo credit to John Gaede

Hilary Knight was nice enough to let me wear her brand new gold medal (Thanks Hilary!!!) for this photo. The funny thing is, a security guy came over and said "no way - give that back!" and I panicked for a second. Then Hilary said that I was the team photographer and that it was OK. The security guy came over and apologized and said "I thought you were just a regular photographer with her medal." That made me laugh, because I am just a regular photographer. But whatever, I was thrilled to have this photo.

I started the day shooting locker room shots at 10am, and now here it was at 10pm and I was with the team at the Today Show. And that was a ton of fun capturing images of them on the set.

I asked Hoda and Al if we could do a photo at the desk and they said "Great idea!" so we did.

Maybe because I photograph a lot of Bar Mitzvahs where I do group shots. I decided to use that to my advantage, and much like with 13 year old kids, I said "Hey everyone, raise your hands in the air and give me some attitude". I love this shot of everyone having fun.

And once again, I grouped the ladies for another gold medal shot.

Right after that shot, the Today Show crew, joined by Lindsey Vonn, started dancing to Gangnam Style. Too funny.

When we were in the green room, behind the set, I had asked Lindsey if we could do a photo with her and the team and she readily agreed. I even took a photo for her on her iPhone.

Overall it was an amazing day that I will never forget. It was so incredible to see these lovely and gracious women achieve their life's dream. And I, as their photographer, get a chance to live it with them in a small way. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE LADIES OF TEAM USA!!!

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Dave said...

Coolest thing I read all day!

Greg B. said...

That was a great game.

Amy M said...

How exciting for them! Everyone must be over the moon elated right now!

MnMmom said...

Excellent work!!! Great story! Go Team USA!

Father Hen said...

Stunning. I do a lot of sport in the UK and find it so difficult to divorce myself from all the emotion of the game. How ever did you manage to get such great shots whilst living every second. Congrats to you and the team

Glenn Hermes said...

What a great game. We were on the edge of our seats the whole time. The OT and shoot out were so intense. Great shot and we truly enjoy the blog.

Unknown said...

I think I would have stopped shooting at the winning moment. Great photos and an awesome achievement. Congratulations!

The Shadow Productions said...

This is amazing. I unfortunately couldn't stay up long enough to watch the final of the game. I was so excited when I heard first thing in the morning. Your photos and coverage are amazing as usual. Congrats team USA and to you, Jeff for keeping your composure and capturing the moment.

Linda Allen said...

Loved the emotion you captured! The photo of the Canadian team was heartbreaking but part of the story. I am so happy for Team USA and that you were able to experience this achievement with them! Congratulations!