Photographer Kari Medig is no stranger to photographing adventure sports in countries often associated with conflict. For his latest project, he traveled to Israel to shoot skiing at Mount Hermon and mountain-biking in the southern part of the country. Read an interview with Medig at Galleries We Like: Skiing and Mountain-Biking Israel.
"Pure action photography does not hold my interest for very long. I mean, I’m like any other guy, you like hucking shots, but what interests me most is the people who are actually doing the sports. I look for the little details surrounding the sport that often seem absurd in contrast to the sport itself. There are so many of these details in a place like Israel, and that is what drew me there."
Skiing Israel"You’ve got a ski hill in a relatively volatile area, sandwiched between Lebanon and Syria. And yet, there is this place where people go and have fun and ski. It seems like an oxymoron, in terms of location. I wondered, what does such a fun yet, frankly, frivolous sport like skiing look like in a place so steeped in the serious issues of religion, ancient history, and conflict?"
Skiing Israel"Seeing soldiers on skis definitely added an element of strangeness. Skiing is most often seen as something 'fun'. It’s the only time as a kid that you can go fast and do things you otherwise couldn’t. So to see a guy strapping on skis with an M-16 was totally out of the ordinary for me. I guess it part of their training for moving around in the mountains on the border."
Skiing Israel"There were people from all over the region. It may be simplistic, but everyone seemed to forget the political issues and just focus on having fun in the snow. It made me think, if people just chilled out a bit and went and did things like skiing, maybe we’d have less problems in the world. I know that's simplifying complex issues, but it’s what we saw. There’s no other way to put it. "
Skiing Israel"Before setting off, I researched the history and politics of Israel. While reading about the country, I realized that this place was more interesting than expected. What I came away with most was that the average Israeli has never seen snow. You just see people touching it for the first time, making and throwing snowballs, and generally getting lost in it."
Mountain-biking Israel"You’d never think of Israel as an adventure destination. It gets so much press because of its politics. We just wanted to see what’s going on there with normal people. What are they doing? Are they riding bikes and skiing? What’s going on?"
Mountain-biking Israel"It took us to the last part of the trip to find 'the guys' who were into singletrack. We finally met them and they knew what we wanted and what they wanted, and we ended up in this area that reminded me of Utah or New Mexico."
Mountain-biking Israel"I was surprised at the quality and mind-blowing desert scenery. A lot of the trails are old camel trails that they’ve worked over and turned into mountain bike trails. We did one ride that was five-hours on singletrack and we never crossed the same path twice."
Mountain-biking Israel"I am drawn to places on the edge, places that are known for their conflict zones where people are still having fun. Riding a bike and skiing are very frivolous acts, but for me, they’re an important part of my mental health. They’re not going to change the world, but the fact that they exist in these places is pretty neat. It’s kind of reassuring. People are doing things for enjoyment in these more volatile areas of the world."
Mountain-biking Israel"It may be farfetched, but I hope it makes people think about the general news about a place, or the stereotype, and realize it isn’t always true. To maybe question, 'Is there a lot more going on than what’s in the news?' There are normal people still having normal lives and doing things that we love to do as well. Not to be too out there, but I guess that’s what surprised me the most. That people are out there doing fun things that we like to do; they like being outside just like us."
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