Sunday, February 26, 2006

Timberline Halfpipe Competition Produces Stellar Photos

Photo by Mike Bitton
A competitor in the USASA halfpipe competition at Timberline, Ore., catches major air.

Sunday saw me on beautiful Mt. Hood again, photographing a snowboarding competition sponsored by my friends at Next Adventure, Portland's Alternative Sporting Goods Store. I'd never shot halfpipe, so was unsure where to stand or what to look for. Through some trial and error, I found some spots that worked, and switched lenses often enough to decide a wide was usually too wide, and that my telephoto produced much more dramatic results. See above.

Next Adventure hooked my 10-year-old daughter, Ashton, up with a demo board, and we made a couple of runs down Bruno, AKA Timberline's beginner's area, before the halfpipe competition began. We had a great time! Many thanks to Next, and to Tony and Jill at Timberline for taking such great care of us.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Blue-Bird Day Encourages Snowboarding Practice

Photo by Mike Bitton
The south-slope of Mt. Hood is home to the famous Timberline ski resort, where I snowboarded Feb. 19, 2006.

Apparently, I arrived late at Timberline for the USASA Halfpipe competition on Sunday, Feb. 19, because when I got there, it was already over. Very few participants showed up, and the runs down Stormin' Norman were over in less than 30 minutes. Sharp contrast to the USASA's slope style events I shot at Timberline a few weeks back, which went on all day long. Not one to waste an opportunity, I asked for and got a lift ticket from Mountain Services (thanks, Jill!), and bravely made for the bunny hill with my demo gear from Next Adventure. It would be my third time on a snowboard.

I slummed around the top of Bruno, the bunny hill named after one of Timberline's mascot dogs, hoping to overhear a few free pointers from the Timberline snowboard teaching staff. "Just strap in your downhill foot and skate around a bit on this flat stuff," was the first tip, which I tried. It worked for me! Another tip: "When you need to stand up, flip over onto your belly and push yourself up," which I thought sounded a little loco, but I tried it. It worked! Instantly up and out of control! I was so pleased to see many-a-30-something there on Bruno, struggling to get into their bindings; trying to figure out how to stand up; and slipping around once they got upright. I was truly among peers. Next week I'm scheduled to shoot the USASA halfpipe competition again. I will arrive a few hours early, just in case.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Matt Hart Sets Personal Record for Elevation Gain During 24 Hours of Sunlight Ski Race

Photo by my brother, David Bitton
As the sun sets during the 24 Hours of Sunlight ski race at Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs, Colo., Matt Hart of Seattle, Wash., climbs toward the top of Compass Mountain.

Matt Hart of the DART adventure racing team invited me to be his support crew at the 24 Hours of Sunlight ski race in Glenwood Springs, Colo. The race began at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, and ended at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12. Matt's showing was impressive. He completed 17 laps for a total elevation gain of well over 26,000 feet. He took eighth place out of 18 in the men's solo division. The course required participants to climb more than 1,500 feet to a ridge on Compass Mountain at the Sunlight ski resort, then ski, snowboard or simply hike back down. As his only support crew, my job was to meet Matt at the bottom of the hill each time he skied down, and get him ready to head immediately back up the hill. I'd hand him vitamins, coffee, energy drinks and food, put the climbing skins back on his skis and send him on his way. Forty-five minutes or an hour later, I'd do it again. Then again. And again. My brother, David Bitton, staff photographer for the Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs, Colo., joined us at the race. Because he sent his photos to the Associated Press, his coverage of the 24 Hours of Sunlight ran in newspapers all over Colorado. What an awesome trip! I got in some great brother time, and was able to support one of the best endurance athletes I know. The more time I spend with Matt, the more impressed I become. Congrats, Matt! You are super-human in my book!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Adventure Racing's Team DART Packs House at REI Flagship Store

Photo by Mike Bitton
Erik Nachtrieb, manager of Seattle area adventure racing team D.A.R.T., introduces himself to a crowd of more than 70 during a lecture at the R.E.I. flagship store in Seattle, Wash.

Seattle area adventure racing team D.A.R.T. packed the house at the flagship R.E.I. store in downtown Seattle, Wash. for a lecture about multi-sport endurance racing. The presentation included videos and still photographs of the team in action. Most of the still photographs were shot by me during the 2005 racing season. The first slide of the team's presentation, shown in the photo above, is one I took of team member Matt Hart during the Wicked Gorge adventure race in 2005. I love hanging out with D.A.R.T. and trying to capture the team's intensity. Seeing so many of my photographs on R.E.I.'s gigantic screen made me feel like a bit of a rock star. I'm stoked to go shoot more racing in 2006! Special thanks to Ryan and Jennifer for letting me sleep at their West Seattle home.