John is a sports fan, just to clarify, I mean watching not playing. He used to participate in sports in his young athletic days and I’ve seen proof in the form of judo medals and a picture of him holding some kind of paddle (otherwise I would never have believed it!). Although he doesn’t play anymore (unless you count the leg lunges he has to do every morning because I run under his feet), he still supports competitive games through the lens of his camera. Technically speaking, portraying the mood and movement of sports in a still-shot is a big challenge. It requires the photographer to take pictures of moving subjects without making them look blurred and be in the right place at the right time to capture the emotion of the scene through let’s say the expression on someone’s face. I often go along with John to give him a few tips and critique his work, but mostly I go for the snacks. My John is an expert in seeking out and preparing the most sumptuous of snacks (yes I’m a lucky cat to have such a devoted friend). On the menu can be anything from steamy steak stew, whisker lickin’ chicken or luscious lamb crockpot.
When John asked me if I wanted to watch an ice hockey game with him, I had a frightening flashback to square-looking bodies adorned in plastic shields crashing into the huge Perspex barriers that surrounded the ice rink they were playing on. I distinctly remember a bewildered man with thick furrowed eyebrows staggering around the ice looking for his tooth. So I opted out of this particular trip and negotiated a small tub of tasty turkey terrine from John before he headed out the door and I headed to my favourite blanket for a nap. If napping was a sport, I’d be a gold medallist I’m sure. As for all you sports fans, keep up the good work. Here’s a few pictures of some brave fit humans working together to score points by hurtling a puck across the opponent’s goal line at anything up to 100 miles an hour with a long curved stick.
As I opened my eyes from my snooze in the car I was astonished to see the silhouette of a sofa with tree-trunk legs trudging awkwardly towards me. I thought I was dreaming about The Incredible Hulk or some kind of giant from Harry Potter but as my eyes got used to the light I realised that it was an ice-flyer as they like to call themselves. An ice hockey player fully clad in a helmet and face cage, toughened shoulder pads, thick chest protector, padded shorts, hard plastic shin pads and reinforced gloves. If you’ve ever been to an ice hockey match, you’ll understand that the armour is not for show, it’s for protection against the multitude of safety hazards that put the players at risk of serious injury such as the solid puck that shoots across the ice at 90 miles per hour.
John and I were sat on the front row behind a floor to ceiling window of fortified shatterproof plastic and witnessed another safety hazard that seemed to befall many a player. I lost count of how many faces were squashed up against that barrier because after the third one I winced and shut my eyes every time there was a skirmish. One of the bravest guys on the ice had to be the referee whose only safety equipment was a helmet and who was regularly slammed into the sides of the rink during play. But fear not, no cats were hurt during the game and only a few sprains and bruises were sustained by the players who were all willing participants in the match. In fact, judging by the wonky smiles and animated man-hugs, they quite enjoyed it.
The same could be said for the crowd who hollered and cheered at the slightest hint of a clash on the ice and were enthralled whenever the puck was shot through their opponents’ goal. Even more baffling than the blood-thirstiness of the onlookers was the bizarre off-the-rink contest that appeared to be going on to see who could tolerate wearing the least amount of clothes. Considering we were in Kitzbuhel (Austria) at the time and the weather outside was snow and -4°c, the urge for the men to take their tops off could only be explained by some hormonal imbalance or the human desire to compete. Luckily John did not succumb to this urge otherwise I would have been most embarrassed (because of the hair on his chest, not the size of his tummy!).