It was 4 a.m. and the crew already had their hustle on. Led by renowned photographer Mark Zibert, we headed to Moraine Lake, about 10 km from Lake Louise, with speedskater Alexandra Ianculescu and field hockey player Kathleen Leahy to begin shooting this year’s edition of “The Beauty of Sport.” Once there, we strapped 70-lb. packs full of photography gear to our backs and began the 90-minute scramble up the 35-degree slope to the top of the Tower of Babel, one of the region’s more “accessible” peaks.
When the sun finally rose and we started to shoot, it became pretty clear that we were involved in something special. And, indeed, by the end of that first week, every one of the athletes had upped the ante. What started on that first day as an idea to have Alex lie on melting ice continued later that week with heptathlete Rachel Machin hugging a 1,300-lb. buffalo. This one-upmanship continued as we shot through the next month and a half, from Vancouver, where the NHL’s Evander Kane scaled a 12-foot tree stump barefoot in Stanley Park, to a sun-bleached sand quarry in Alliston, Ont., where diver Jennifer Abel did multiple backflips in 40-degree heat. This competitive nature was a frequent reminder that we were not just hanging with beautiful models. That, of course, and their amazingly structured bodies.
This year, we decided to photograph exclusively in Canada, because our country is the most beautiful place on Earth. Each location we visited provided us with a different canvas on which to display both the beauty and strength of these stars.
A production of this size, especially across such a huge land, is not easily achieved, and I would like to thank the following people for their support: Davina Bernard at Chateau Lake Louise for the hospitality; talented swimwear designers Vanessa Warrack and Karen Donaldson of Minnow Bathers and Natalie Leung of Waiwah; and the production team itself, which often worked 18-hour days to pull this shoot together. Of course, I would be remiss not to thank Mark for his endless creativity and drive, and of course the athletes themselves for taking the time out of their schedules to allow us to photograph them.
After six months of planning, six weeks of shooting, 15 days of editing and one extremely close encounter with a live wolf, I am proud to show off this fantastic issue to you all. I hope you enjoy it.
Photo Director Myles McCutcheon