Sports picture of the month: February 2021
Leonhard Foeger, chief photographer, Austria:
“A highlight of Alpine Skiing is the Hahnenkamm downhill race on Streif slope in the Tyrolean town of Kitzbuehel. Usually, the town is crowded with up to 50,000 spectators per day and lots of celebrities, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, come to watch the race. This year, it took place with no spectators. The downhill is the most dangerous and spectacular men’s race in the Alpine ski year.
Ski photography on downhill needs to have at least two photographers. One for any action on the slope, and one on the finish line for the skier’s reaction. It is one of the most difficult sports to shoot, as the skier reaches speeds up to 150 kmh and passes by in a hundredth of a second.
The pictures are transmitted immediately from the camera to an editor, reaching clients within a minute. The action picture is at the client’s desk before the skier is down and passed the finish line. As an experienced photographer, you can see when the skier starts to jump, it’s not going well. You follow him close through your lens, crashing, and there is an immediate silence around. Luckily when the skier moves, you know the crash isn’t critical. I’m able to review the crash on my camera and send the pictures direct to my editor.
This is the moment when you take a deep breath and the feeling of relief flows through your body.”