It was a beautiful winter morning on December 29th 2016 and I set out to shoot 1st round of Viessmann Biathlon Cup in Osrblie. More than 80 biathletes in 11 categories competed in pursuit. Although the weather was beautiful, the shooting conditions were difficult because the wind was constantly changing. My main focus was on Miroslav Pavlak (u19, Member of Stars For Stars), Veronika Machyniakova (u21) as well as members of Slovak biathlon team Jana Gerekova, Tomas Hasilla and Matej Kazar.
Just before the Christmas I had the opportunity to attend and photograph three races (women’s sprint on Friday and both men’s and women’s pursuit on Saturday) of the third edition of 2016/2017 IBU Biathlon World Cup in Nove Mesto Na Morave. Vysocina Arena became the true heart of biathlon world with the total attendance of more than 130 000 spectators. Martin Fourcade dominated all three races among men. Women’s races saw three different winners – Tatiana Akimova (sprint), Anais Chevalier (pursuit) and Gabriela Koukalova (mass start).
On November 16th I attended the Tennis Player of the Year 2016 in Slovakia Gala, held in National Tennis Center in Bratislava. The main star of the evening was Dominika Cibulkova, winner of three WTA Tour titles, as well as the year-end WTA Finals in Singapore. She claimed both Best Female Tennis Player of the Year and Most Popular Tennis Player of the Year awards. Tereza Mihalikova and Lukas Klein were named Best Junior Players of the Year. Romana Cisovska was chosen as the Best Upcoming Player of the Year. Women’s Fed Cup Team was chosen as the Best Tennis Team of the Year, despite the fact it failed to advance from the Fed Cup World Gropu 2. Coach Lubomir Kurhajec was inducted into Tennis Hall of Fame in Slovakia. Martin Klizan, who was selected as the Best Male Tennis Player of the Year 2016 did not attend the ceremony.
In mid November I attended the 9th edition of Tennis Chamipons Exhibition in Bratislava. This year’s line-up consisted of WTA Champion from Singapore Dominika Cibulkova, Swiss rising star Belinda Bencic, Czech and Slovak Davis Cup heroes Radek Stepanek and Dominik Hrbaty, as well as first class tennis entertainers Yannick Noah and Mansour Bahrami. Some of my photos from the event appeared in the articles on WTA Tennis.com and Tennis.com.
In late October 2016, I had the opportunity to spend two days at ATP 500 Erste Bank Open Tennis tournament in Vienna, Austria. This tournament had a total financial commitment of 2,4 million EUR and the players had a chance to add up to 500 points to their ranking. The line up included world no. 2 Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Austrian rising super star Dominic Thiem, as well as the veterans David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez and John Isner. The lighting in Wiener Stadthalle was difficult to work with, producing a strong yellow cast. Nevertheless, I was happy for the opportunity, as it was my first time shooting professional tennis outside of Slovakia in 9 years.
In September I was fortunate to attend the grand opening of Cosmos Discovery in Bratislava, Slovakia. Cosmos Discovery is currently the largest exhibition dedicated to space exploration in the world. The highlights of the exhibition include Gemini and Sojuz capsules, Apollo landing module, various space suits, as well as various personal items of astronauts. Perhaps the most precious item is the engine part of Saturn V rocket, that was recently recovered and restored. Visitors can see the authentic part of Saturn V for the first time outside the United States. The exhibition lasts from September 12th, 2016 until mid-January 2017.
On September 6th 2016 Slovak biathletes Anastasia Kuzmina, Paulina Fialkova and Martin Otcenas met the press before the start of 2016/2017 season. After extending the sponsorship contract between Viessmann Slovakia and Slovak Biathlon Union, the three biathletes informed the press about their goals for the upcoming season. Martin Otcenas is a fresh two-time champion at Summer Biathlon Championships. Paulina Fialkova had some respectable results at IBU World Cup, as well as on IBU Cup Championships, where she won two medals. The two-time Olympic champion Anastasia Kuzmina returns to biathlon from maternity leave after two seasons.
At the end of August, I spent a couple of days in beautiful south-eastern Moravia, Czech republic. This region is known for its winemaking and three beautiful towns – Mikulov, which is the heart of Palava region, Valtice and Lednice, which form Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape. These towns were the seats of Liechtenstein and Dietrichstein families and are part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1996. Unfortunately, the weather was mostly unfit for serious photography (read blue sky and no clouds whatsoever). Neverheless, I brought back a couple of photos I’m happy with. Disclaimer: This is a work-in progress gallery and will be updated with new photos once I finish processing them.
At the end of August, I visited the 6th annual Slovak International Air Fest (SIAF 2016) in Sliac, Slovakia. The highlights of this year’s edition were Sukhoi Su-27 (Ukraine), Patrulla Aguila (Spain), aerobatic pilot with unlimited “allowance” Jurgis Kairys (Lithuania), Flying Bulls Aerobatic Team (Czech republic) and General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon (Belgium). By far the biggest candy on the ground was Boeing B-52 Stratofortress from Barksdale Airforce Base in Louisiana, United States, which made its return to Slovakia after 4 years. Unfortunately, the overal experience was lacking compared to last year’s edition, which was mostly very good. Even the weather wasn’t very cooperative, with strong sunshine and backlight that affected most of the afternoon performances.
At the end of July, I visited the beautiful equestrian facility in Samorin. X-Bionic Sphere hosted a four day Equestrian Festival Samorin 2016 and like last year’s Summer Masters 2015, it was a joy to shoot. Althought last year’s event was better organized and with better line-up, I still managed to get some nice photos. The highlight was, once again, a night-session, which attracted hudreds of visitors.