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The Margin: 2022 Winter Olympics: The camera that tumbled waaaay down a ski slope is OK


It’s more a tale of survival than a gold-medal victory, but chalk up one more happy ending at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Last week, millions of viewers cringed as a digital camera that apparently slipped from some poor photographer’s grasp tumbled (and tumbled, and tumbled, and kept on tumbling, as pieces flew off) about 200 feet down a ski slope outside Beijing. A video posted by NBCOlympics on Thursday quickly went viral:

Some compared the fall to ski jumper Vinko Bogataj’s iconic “agony of defeat” crash decades before:

Photography site Petapixel identified the camera as a state-of-the art Sony Alpha, worth up to $8,700 — making it a potentially very expensive accident.

But there was apparently a happy ending.

Vancouver, B.C.-based professional photographer Nick Didlick, who has covered 15 Olympics, including these Beijing Games, did some digging, and discovered that the camera survived its fall, and was back in action a day later.

In a blog post dated Wednesday and titled “A Photographer’s Nightmare,” Didlick said he contacted the Sony SONY, +0.02% 6758, +0.28% service department at the Olympic press center, where technicians told him the camera and lens “were not severely damaged.”

Even better news: “The images that were recorded were fine,” he wrote.

“The lens was in fine shape other than a broken lens hood and the rear LCD of the camera needed to be replaced,” the Sony technicians told him.

Thanks to a well-stocked repair station, the technicians told Didlick they were able to make fixes in under an hour and the camera was returned to the photographer — who had been given a loaner replacement — the next day.

The identity of the butterfingered shooter, or details on how the camera fell, were not revealed — probably to that photographer’s great relief.

“Winter Olympics are probably the hardest of all sporting events to cover as a photographer,” Didlick wrote. “I have seen slips and crashes break the arms and legs of photographers, lenses separated from camera bodies, smashed lenses, and cameras destroyed.”

“I know I will be hanging on to my cameras a little tighter for the rest of these Olympics.” 

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