St Moritz…Glitz, glam, skijoring and champagne
Playground of the rich and famous, home to the ski world cup and the winter Olympic games, not once but twice, it sets the standard in alpine sports and 5 star luxury...and I was lucky enough to be going with my family courtesy of Canon and their winter Skijoring competition!
On the Friday morning, after an early start, we made our way to the airport with our mountain of luggage. I know many parents out there will agree with me when I say that taking a winter wardrobe, ski gear and full complement of DSLR camera equipment along with a 7 month old baby and consequent collection of various car seats, prams, slings, lotions and potions etc half way across Europe requires logistics and planning skills an Army General could be proud of.
Thankfully when we landed in Milan we were greeted with private transfers to whisk us away to St Moritz through the outskirts of the city and the villages lining the shore of the beautiful Lake Como.
A few dozen or so nursery rhymes later we arrived at the Kempinski Grand Hotel de Bains where the concierge and reception staff unburdened us from our luggage and offered us just what we needed - a good old fashioned cup o’ char. Admiring the chandeliers from balconies, we were taken to a splendid room where we devoured the mini treats left for us before getting ready for dinner. Whilst expensive, the resort is full of quality restaurants that make a humble pasta dish a thing of top class cuisine. My mind turned to skiing the next day and I went to bed dreaming of crisp white snow and bluebird skies.
The next morning we had an amazing breakfast with everything you could wish for. The pianist in his bow tie and tux twinkled on the ivories whilst the hotel chef cooked my omelette. I finished my latte then headed to the slopes.
The Corvigilia is well equipped with ski-lifts, the first was installed in 1935, so it’s a slick operation and there were hardly any queues. My wish was almost granted as the snow conditions were perfect but a foggy morning put paid to any chance of good photographs. Happily the skies cleared in the afternoon and I made the most of it, accessing some of the back-country skiing at the edge of the resort and wading through deep snow up to a lonely pinnacle in the Gluna valley to put together a panorama shot. Using my 16-35mm and a circular polarizing filter to cut through the haze, I stitched it together from 7 separate images, enough to fill my office wall at full resolution.
On our second day we had complimentary tickets to White Turf 2016; a horse racing event on the frozen lake at the bottom of town. Spectators flocked to the stands despite it being bitterly cold. We wrapped our hands around hot chocolate in between races and I managed to pick a good spot close to the finish line next to the press photographers to catch a few snaps as the action unfolded.
I’ll admit, as a mainly landscape and wedding photographer, taking photos of fast moving horses in the snow had its challenges. The camera settings on my EOS 6D needed manually tweaking to get the perfect exposure, white balance and shutter speed...leaning on the barriers helped me fend off the shivers to keep a steady hand when using my 70-200mm telephoto lens. It was an unforgettable event.
I think the next time I visit St. Moritz will be after I’ve won the lottery, but I’ll look forward to it and be sure to make the most of it if the chance comes up again. If anyone reading this happens to know next week’s winning numbers, be sure to let me know! ;-)
My thanks again to Canon and CloudNine for putting on such a spectacular prize.
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© Dan Matthewman