The persona of PSRA champion ski racer Lonny Vanatta, captured in photos (letter)
In 1982, I had just returned to Winter Park from the World Ski Championships for the Disabled in Leysin, Switzerland, as the USA Team Photographer, and the PSRA ski championships were being held at (Winter Park) at that time. I believe it was late March.
Lonny Vanatta was one of the semifinalists, with Richie Woodworth as the other contender. As I had photo credentials, I was able to photograph the event using my preferred equipment, a Nikon F3 motor drive camera and a 50mm and a 105mm lens.
Typically, race photographers were interested in just that, racing images for publication, where the “action” was. My preferred interest was in “portraiture,” capturing the persona of the individual racer. That interest gave me the opportunity to photograph the racers in the starting gate area, where the ski racers and I were eyeball to eyeball. That was my photographic arena.
In 2012, there was a reunion in Aspen of these PSRA racers to honor Bob Beattie, and I attempted to reach out to many of the racers to provide them with complimentary photos. I did connect with Vanatta and gave him several prints and asked for a portrait of him, which is also enclosed.
Here are some images of Vanatta at the time of the race, the intensity in his facial expressions. Other racers were likewise captured photographically. Also enclosed is a list of racers in my handwriting, not totally 100 percent accurate, however nearly so. The list of racers is a “who’s who” of ski racers in the world, some of whom are instantly recognizable to the ski industry and elsewhere.
I am no longer a ski photographer, as I have moved on to other photographic interests; however, the essence of photography and skiing in nonetheless the same. These documents, photos of Lonnie, give testimony of that.
Raymond A. Bleesz