This past Sunday afternoon Julianne and I headed back to Snow Jam for the afternoon qualifying match, which was scheduled to run from 1-5pm, and then we planned to hang out for an hour till the final match that would happen from 6-7pm.

We got to the snow ramp at about 3:45pm and I snapped a few pictures of the scaffolding with my Canon D400 and Sigma 10-22mm lens . . .

I think the white bags here are the ice or snow or ? that the workers used to feed the snow blower up on the ramp.

When we walked to a spot where we could see the ramp there was nothing going on . . . I’m not sure if the afternoon match finished early but . . . yeah . . . arriving at 4pm, 2 hours before the final match starting time (6pm), actually proved to be a bonus in disguise because I was able to get a good spot inside a barricaded area just across from the ramp.  If we’d arrived at even 5pm we would not have been standing at the edge of the street.  Even so, it was FREAKING COLD and standing in one spot for 2 hours was not exactly the most fun thing to do on a Sunday afternoon.  The only thing that kept me motivated to ignore the cold was that I was pumped about it being my first time taking pictures at an international sport event!

Waiting for 2 hours was worth cause Monday morning when I went through the 500 shots I took during the final match on Sunday night I found a fair number of good shots.  Julianne then helped me select the 35 pictures I’ve uploaded here.

Last night while I was writing this post I noticed that The Marmot’s Hole has a link to Hermit Hideaway’s Korean Photography Blog and the Hermit’s post called Snow Jam Highlights. The Hermit has mad photography skills and if you’ve never taken a look at his site check it out.

From Hermit Hideaway’s Korean Photography Blog, Snow Jam

“drew an impressive crowd of 260,000 spectators, including 45,000 foreigners, to the center of the city over the weekend. A total of twenty-nine snowboarders from ten countries competed in the tournament. Switzerland’s Gian-Luca Cavigelli took first place, with Austria’s Stefan Gimpl and Finland’s Markku Koski finishing in second and third, respectively. The three-day event won considerable praise, with 92% of respondents (from a survey of 650) citing Snow Jam significantly helped raise awareness of Seoul to the rest of the world.

But all figures aside, the fact that a 34-meter ramp was set up right downtown along the newly revamped Gwangwhamun Plaza was reason alone to celebrate.”

The Hermit also posted a link where you can see pictures by a photographer named Oliver Kraus (who also has mad skills I might add) here, LG Snowboard FIS World Cup BA Seoul.

When I look at The Marmot’s Hole, The Hermit, and Oliver Kraus’ photographs I imagine myself doing this if I ever met one of them,

Anyways, back to Sunday afternoon and standing in the freezing cold . . . after realizing Julianne and I had a two hour wait where we’d have to stand in the same spot if we wanted a good location from which to take pictures I began killing time by shooting the crew prepping the snow ramp.  Oh, and I put my Sigma 18-200mm lens on my camera.

Here you can see the crane lifting up the white sacks of ice/snow to feed the snow blower.

The photographer on my right was an elderly woman.  I thought it was totally awesome that she was out in the cold with her camera and she stood waiting for 2 hours along with Julianne and I and about 15 other people.

I think the photographer in this picture might be Oliver Kraus.  He had full access to every part of the snow ramp and I could see him taking pictures of the snowboarders, etc.

Since I’ve never been to a snowboarding event it was kind of interesting to watch the crew prepping the snow and evening out the snow on the landing area.

Around 5pm I hear someone setting up a tripod behind me and turn to see the MOTHER OF ALL LENSES looming behind me!!!

Around 5:40 the snowboarders began to do practice runs . . . and I started taking pics.

About five minutes into the practice run this ajumma shoves Julianne and some other Koreans aside to push her way up to the front.  Needless to say Julianne and I were NOT impressed . . .

I played around with my shutter speed and ended up selecting 1/250 with an ISO of 1600.  I wanted to use 1/500 or 1/1000 shutter speed but I was about 100 feet from the snow ramp and lighting so the shots I tried at those speeds were too dark.

Julianne and I were standing about 100 feet from the snow ramp.  While I’m very happy with my Sigma 18-200mm lens the distance, lighting conditions, and snowboarders flying at high speeds through the air were right at the performance edge of my lens’ capabilities.  That being said, I think I got some decent shots.

How do you make a crowd of about 100 photographers all yell simultaneously? Drive a bus through their line of sight while the subject is doing a kick ass aerial maneuver!  This happened about 8 or 9 times, maybe more, during the final match.

The Hermit has a killer fish-eye shot of what the snowboarder sees when looking down from the top of the snowramp–check it out at his post, Snow Jam Highlights.

Me on the other hand, well I got a decent shot from the spectator’s point of view looking up at the starting point.

After some hard landings the crew had to go out and fix up some patches on the ramp.

I was really impressed with how fast and professional there were.

And then the match continued . . .

One thing I thought about while shooting was that I wished the lighting had been aimed higher up in the air cause the snowboarders highest point in the air was not quite in the lighting.  This meant that many of the shots I got of the snowboarders doing their aerobatics were too dark or blurred.  I don’t know if the guys around with me with the insanely priced telephoto pro lenses were able to overcome this challenge with their higher performance lenses . . . I wonder if they were.

And then came perhaps the best wipe out of the final match . . .


I began to notice that depending on the line the guys took down the snow ramp they’d enter the lit airspace in ways that allowed me to get good shots–so maybe the lights were focused on a limited area high up in the air and the lines the guys were taking down the ramp and through the air were outside the lit space . . . I donno.


On facebook yesterday, while editing my pictures, I kept posting a pic here and there and writing “DUDE!”  Why is it that snowboarding brings out the ‘dude’ expressions? LOL!

Near the end of the final match I took one more shot of the uber lens of all telephoto lenses . . . oh baby!

The snow ramp crew lines up for a final trip down the ramp after the final match wrapped up.  These guys did an awesome job.

After standing in the cold and wind for nearly three and a half hours I was ready to go home.  Julianne had had to leave earlier as she lacks my Canadian DNA which combined with eating pancakes with maple syrup provides me with a natural defense against the cold and H1N1 (if you live and teach in Korea you’ll catch the irony here, if you don’t do a Google search about kimchi and illnesses and see what comes up–wink!)

On my way out of the area I walked past the Food Zone . . . I don’t know what they were serving but they had massive line ups.

To give you an idea of how big Ganghwamun Plaza is you can see the snow ramp in the background of this shot.  It’s going to be interesting to see what other major festivals, events, and what not take place here now–and it’s totally awesome that I can walk to the plaza from my apartment in about 25 minutes!

I really enjoyed the Snow Jam event and hope that Seoul continues to organize more things like it.

As I walked down the street towards Kyobo bookstore I saw this elderly woman sitting on the freezing cold ground cooking snacks she was selling to passersby.  I thought about how I’d been complaining I was cold while taking pictures of a sport event with my expensive camera.  I thought about how I was warm enough with my Northface Goretex winter hat, thick Thinsulate gloves, and winter coat . . . and realized that I needed a reality check.

If you’re out and about at events around Seoul and see elderly women selling snacks buy something from them.  Even if you don’t eat it yourself don’t worry about that–give it to one of the homeless you see near the subway stations.   This way you’ll be doing two acts of compassion for one small price.

Merry Christmas,


You can see more pics and blogging about the 2009 Seoul Snow Jam ……

This blog has pics from another location near the plaza where a second snow ramp had been set up at the Sejong Center for Performing Arts.

Seoul Snow Jam: “Extreme Zone”-Ramp

This blog has some awesome sketches of the main snow ramp event.

2009 Seoul Snow Jam

This blog has  a cool little 30 second video taken close to the base of the snow ramp.

Seoul Snow Jam/FIS Snowboard World Cup Big Air Competition

Some very nice pictures here and the bloggers says more will come later.

seoul snow jam

A personal snapshot about attending the event.

Seoul Snow Jam!!

A new blog I haven’t seen before that has several videos linked to youtube of each snowboarder’s jump–I left a note asking the blogger to fix the embedded video links cause they weren’t working when I tried to watch them.  That being said his blog is interesting and worth a look.

[Supermatch IX/Snowboard City Jump]2009 Seoul Snow Jam

An excellent write up about Saturday night’s Big Air and the crowded conditions and cultural differences in crowds.

Seoul Snow Jam

A series of photos (sans text) showing one person’s experience at the event.

2009 Seoul Snow Jam held in Gwanghwamun

A guy who had a ‘blue pass’ and access to the snow ramp itself writes a bit about his experiences.

Seoul Snow Jam 2009 the second post

SEOUL Snow Jam!

Seoul Snow Jam