It was a night that celebrated the beauty of the mountains, waves and streets we call home, and the power of the human spirit that seeks to push boundaries amongst them, and it wrapped with mountain bike photographer Ale Di Lullo taking top prize. The Italian was named “Best in Show” and earns $10,000 for his slideshow he described as a “Freeride Journey.”
“This was my vision of freeride, from hanging out with friends at competitions, to hanging out with friends on big mountains,” said the veteran photographer of his show that took viewers from the craggy peaks of the Dolomites, to the dusty gnar of Utah, and above the crowds in Whistler Village at Red Bull Joyride. “It was about pushing the limits of the sport, like any extreme sport aims to do.”
The slideshow wove together nine minutes of photos from the past 15 years of Di Lullo’s career. He said in the end choosing music to fit the story he wanted to tell was the most difficult part. In the end, he settled on a Nine Inch Nails soundtrack, which he described as “perfect for what I was looking for.”
“I cannot even understand right now,” he added. “It’s amazing. I’ve been looking at this contest forever. I thought I would never be able to even get invited. For some lucky alignment of planets I got invited in, and I even won it. I’m speechless.”
Di Lullo was the only photographer solely focused on mountain biking. His fellow photographers included cold-water surf photographer Marcus Paladino, skate, snow and adventure-focused Tal Roberts, Hawaiian surf and sea shooter Zak Noyle, and outdoor lifestyle and action photographer Robin O’Neill from Whistler, who took home the “People’s Choice” win in front of her home audience.
The event wrapped another big day at the World Ski & Snowboard Festival (WSSF) in Whistler that, on top of bringing together some of the top photographers in the biz to show their stuff, also featured a shred session attended by a who’s who of skiing legends, two musical performances, and Whistler’s first taste of Big Air action.
The JP Memorial Quarter Pipe Shred Session on Blackcomb Mountain got the party started early on Blackcomb. Mike Douglas, Cassie Sharpe, Alex Beaulieu-Marchand and dozens more of the sport’s legends, icons and all-stars turned out to honour the memory of skiing legend J.P. Auclair. Word from the hill was: good vibes, great people, even a dusting of fresh spring snow.
As the day rolled on, skiers and riders descended into Whistler Village. The rocking, powerhouse female duo that make up Old Soul Rebel were there to greet them from the WSSF Outdoor Concert Series stage in Skiers Plaza, followed by Little Destroyer.
As the second act took to the stage, some of the best freestyle skiers and snowboarders in the world got their first glimpse of the 66 foot jump that awaits them tomorrow, as the Halaw Snowboard Invitational gets ready to launch. The snowboard Big Air event was renamed “Halaw” in 2019, meaning “Eagle,” weaving in tradition from the Lil’Wat First Nation. The contest launches Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. from Whistler Village and LIVE at 4:30 p.m. on WSSF.com.
Also on deck for tomorrow, a jam-packed schedule, shuffled to appease Mother Nature’s fickle seasonal temperament. The Saudan Couloir Race Extreme will charge from its namesake run on Blackcomb at 11 a.m., while competitors of a different sort get ready to send it on Whistler. The Twisted Tea Slush Cup will be the place to be to take in some of the community’s weird and wonderful characters as they attempt to ski/ride across a slushy pond, dressed in assorted finery. The event takes place at 12 p.m. beside the helipad behind the Roundhouse Lodge. Both events wrap up in time for après in the village, as Skratch Bastid takes the stage at 3 p.m., setting the vibe for the Big Air competition to follow. If that’s enough, the night wraps with the SOLD OUT Swatch 72hr Filmmaker Showdown at the Whistler Conference Centre.
For more information on the ongoing World Ski & Snowboard Festival, visit WSSF.com.