World Photo Day: Capturing the Moment
One of the most used tools throughout our website, social media and publications is the photograph. Official IBU Photographers at every competition capture the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” both on the field of play and behind the scenes.
On World Photo Day, we are featuring the story behind three recent photos with Dorothea Wierer, Emilien Jacquelin, Martin Fourcade and Marketa Davidova as captured by Christian Manzoni, Petr Slavik and Igor Stančík.
Doro’s Triumph by Christian Manzoni
There is no thrill bigger and surely a once-in-a-career experience in any biathlete’s life than winning a Gold medal in a home IBU World Championships. Well, maybe one; wining a second Gold medal. That was the triumph that Dorothea Wierer was celebrating with her fist pump after claiming the IBU WCH 15 km individual title for Gold number two. Christian Manzoni commented, “Imagine the pressure Doro had gone through before her home Championships. She wanted to do well, wanted that title so bad...and she delivered. The raised fist is more than just a gesture. It is a sign of relief, a confirmation of her self-confidence and the perfect preparations for this moment.”
Wierer added, “I cannot remember that moment so well…those were busy days. But I was really happy; the feeling was unreal because I had a lot of pressure. It was like a dream. Everything was perfect.”
Catching a Moment
To capture an iconic image and subject like Wierer, Manzoni admitted, “As a photographer, you try to catch a moment, a story. It is a bit more than just looking through the lenses and try to keep it sharp. I always try to anticipate what is going to happen next, or how is athlete X is showing emotions. Doro is a real professional, in the studio or after the races. She knows exactly what the public wants to see. In those moments during a race or just after, she is Doro herself, nothing else; that is what I adore and like about Doro.”
Emilien Jacquelin and Martin Fourcade by Petr Slavik
While the veteran and two-time IBU World Cup Total Score titlist Wierer was adding to her Championship medal collection, Emilien Jacquelin was battling for his first-ever IBU World Championship title in the men’s pursuit. The budding French star achieved his goal, topping a stellar field that included his mentor, friend and long-time world number one biathlete Martin Fourcade. Their emotional hug and celebratory kiss symbolize “passing the baton” from one generation to the next.
The veteran Fourcade commented, “At this moment, I was so happy for Emilien. I knew he was fighting for Gold but couldn’t see the final sprint. I realized Emilien had won when I came in the final sprint…We are really close and it was a big joy.”
Simple but Impressive
Slavik thinks the photo gained added value when Fourcade retired and the baton passing became a reality. “The picture is simple yet impressive because of special emotions. Sure, I was satisfied at the time of capture, it was pretty different, but it gained real value at the end of Martin´s career.”
The moment was monumental for the then 24-year-old Jacquelin. “The emotions were huge. Bigger than being World Champion, but to celebrate with Martin, my mates, my teenage idol and friend. This picture means a lot for me.”
“The friendship kiss is a "passing the baton.” It's a kind of a painting, not like Judas kiss (ha! Ha!) but a fraternal kiss. When you know the story about Martin and I; that we live in the same town, we train together all year. I saw him in his bad moment the previous season, to see him come back at his best level, and celebrate like he won the race was for sure the biggest moment of my career.” Jacquelin’s face is obscured, “You don't see my face but the hug describes my feelings at this moment. All the white snow around us gives this feeling that time had stopped that nothing else was more important than to celebrate this title. This photo is perfect and when you know all this behind the scenes. It means a lot; I will keep this one for life!”
Marketa Davidova and her Sister by Igor Stančík
Beyond these Championship moments are those where the world of sport and family ties come together. In a scene that she never would have imagined just weeks before, Marketa Davidova put on a show in her home stadium for the Czech fans grabbing third place in the women’s sprint. Like Wierer in Antholz, stepping onto the podium in your home stadium is priceless. However, the cavernous Vysočina Arena was devoid of fans, due to the Coronavirus epidemic.
Yet a few family members garnered a credential and were present, including Davidova’s young sister. After the Flower Ceremony, there was this perfect hug and a medal from big sister. Davidova admitted, “It was really nice time. I was very happy that the family was with me in the stadium when I won the medal. It is not always that way; maybe that’s why it was so special. My sister kept the medal and took it home. She was very happy to have it.”
Searching for Moments
Stančík said that coming up with a perfect shot like this one is always a challenge. “It is mostly about being in the right place at the right moment. However, as a photographer you need to anticipate these moments and know where and when they are likely to happen. We may get lucky to just bump into something emotional not expecting it. Still, we are constantly searching for moments like this one. When it happens, you must act very fast since there are only few seconds to capture the moment, sometimes just a second."
"This particular scene was a pure luck. I was not supposed to mingle among the athletes because of COVID-19 precautions so I was standing outside the finish area. I was keeping my distance and suddenly out of nowhere, there they were right next to me… Marketa and her sister.”
And that is the rest of the story…on World Photo Day.
Photos: Christian Manzoni, Peter Slavik, Igor Stančík, Evgeny Tumashov