The Schladming and Dachstein region of Styria in Austria is home to several world-class ski destinations. The main (and best known) being the Schladming 4 Mountain Ski Area, which hosted the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in 2013. Since 1973, the Alpine Ski World Cup races have been held here, and since 1997, the races have taken place at night.
Max attended one of the night races and captured this image in between heats. "I was shooting for the U.S. ski team at the time and I was at the top for a World Cup race. I was shooting action portraits, guys at the start warming up, things like that. There was this insane fog layer that kept coming in and out. It was dark, it was cold, and it was hectic. I really wanted to capture this image, but I was working, and I had to keep letting the opportunity pass."
The hills of Schladming have a reputation for their challenging runs. "There were 200 people around, the emotions were intense and nobody was looking up. Everyone was just focused and unaware of what was happening in the fog above them. Every time I looked up, it was the most serene image-the night sky, the skewed horizon, the fog backlit by these bright lights. It was such a weird contrast of the people in the chairs 50 feet above us floating in the dark, and the insanity down where we were. There was such a separation of emotion between the people on the chairlift and the people on ground.
"Ultimately I waited about 45 minutes until everyone was gone. It was getting to be late at night, and everything was about to close, and just as I was about to give up, this one person came up the lift. The fog lined up, and I got the shot. It was so cold by that time I didn't even look at the photo. I just got the shot and skied down and hoped that everything worked out. I was so happy to see that everything came together to capture this moment."