On Saturday, I headed out to Elk Island National Park to photograph the 2010 Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival. The event is comprised of five distance events including a 55km, a 31 km, a 4.5km and a 13 km event. The legend of the Birkie stems back to 1206 when two Birkebeiner warriors, braved the elements to rescue a young prince who was heir to the throne of Norway. The two warriors traveled on skis 55 kilometres from Gudbrandsdal valley over two mountain ranges to Rena in Osterdal valley with the young infant on their backs. In the spirit of this tradition, participants in the Birkebeiner Ski Festival can choose to complete the race wearing a pack weighing 5.5kg â€“ this is known as a full Birkie. Those who choose to ski without a pack qualify for the Birkie Lite. With the Vancouver Olympics happening, it was great to see so many families participating in the event and enjoying our Canadian winter while getting some exercise.
It was a mixed bag of weather ranging from overcast and snowing to windy and warm but overall the conditions were excellent for skiing and for photography. I decided to rent a 300mm f2.8 lens from Lens Lenders and this was a great opportunity to try out this beast of a lens to see if it would be one Iâ€™d like to add to the lens collection one day. I hand-held the lens for about 6 hours and my arms and shoulders felt it on Sunday but the overall image quality of this piece of glass made up for the pain. It is a very fast lens and extremely sharp. Being outdoors with decent lighting I didnâ€™t really have need for the IS but there were a few instances where it definitely helped, particularly considering I was working with it hand-held. For my fellow Canadian photographers, if you are looking for a great place to rent glass, be sure to contact Todd at Lens Lenders.
This year, four of us including myself, provided coverage of the event. Special thanks to Owen Law, Stephanie Wachnuk-Dowber, and Paul Kruger for their help with this event.
Here are a few of my favourites from the event: