Heidi-ho again from Whistler, where the World Ski & Snowboard Festival is keepin’ on, keepin’ on, much like the week-long bender three-quarters of the town is in the midst of. Last night was another big one, as hot on the heels of Wednesday night’s eclectic Olympus 72Hr Filmmaker Showdown, the second of three lens-based events, the iconic and inspiring Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown (which was hosted by none other than the Godfather of Freeskiing himself, Mike Douglas), took place in front of another salivating, capacity crowd at the Whistler Conference Centre.
Much like every year, in the running was an incredibly stacked line-up of talent, including Krystle Wright, an adventure-focused photographer who stunning diversity of imagery (highlighted by jaw-dropping shots of WTF slack lining and BASE jumping) kicked off the proceedings like a powder keg; Scott Rinckenberger, who’s landscape photography was nothing short of awe-inspiring; Gabe L’Heureux, Burton Snowboard’s go-to shutterbug, who offered a dueling banjo combination of action and lifestyle photos of some of the top snowboarders on the planet, Jonathan Mehring, a world-renowned skateboard photographer based out of New York City, who highlighted the entire show with segments on skating The Big Apple and some of the more exotic locations in the world (such as China, India, Turkey and more), and local favourite Jussi Grznar, who put forth an intense, brooding presentation of snowboard, surfing and mountain-based masterpieces, which were complemented by his nearly flawless use of the almighty black and white.
Needless to say, the A-list panel of judges (which consisted of a quartet of Whistler-based Forecast Senior Contributors (Leslie Anthony, Eric Berger, Blake Jorgenson and Paul Morrison), alongside quite possibly the most well-known surf photographer in the world, Aaron Chang, trendsetting skateboard photographer Dylan Doubt, and Olympus’s Charles Garcia) had their hands full with the toughest job of the week. But in the end, it was the hometown hero’s night, as Jussi Grznar swept the field by walking away with both the $10,000 novelty cheque for Best of Show, and the love and admiration of the crowd (plus another healthy-sized pay day) courtesy of the People’s Choice Award.
Much respect to Grznar for his double victory, and to all of last night’s photographers for providing us with images that will linger in our minds for many moons to come. For more on last night’s show, give the release from WSSF below a read, and be sure to join the masses for the action-packed Intersection film contest tonight (which we’ll be rolling out our final piece of behind-the-scenes coverage on in a few hours). —JEFF SCHMUCK
WHISTLER, BC – April 15, 2016 – Last night at the World Ski & Snowboard Festival (WSSF) in Whistler, BC, five of the top action sports photographers from around the world showcased their life’s work at the OLYMPUS Pro Photographer Showdown. Jussi Grznar, originally hailing from the former Czechoslovakia and now based in Vancouver, won over the hearts and minds of the judges and audience alike. The judges named Grznar’s slideshow Best of Show and awarded him the $10,000 grand prize. The audience agreed with judges and Grznar also took home the People’s Choice Award, earning him an additional $1,000 in prizing.
As the preeminent annual action sport photography contest in the world, the event is an unparalleled celebration of commitment to still images that capture both time and the human spirit. Similar to last year, four photographers were selected and invited to compete with no pre-submission required. New for 2016, one spot was reserved for a Wild Card Entry whereby any action sport photographer could submit. All five photographers were flown in to showcase their life’s work, including Krystle Wright, Scott Rinckenberger, Jonathan Mehring, Wild Card Entry Gabe L’Heureux and Jussi Grznar.
Grznar has attended the OLYMPUS Pro Photographer Showdown as a spectator for 10 years in a row prior to competing in 2016. While Grznar planned to take part in the event for years, he never felt ready to compete for various reasons. In the end, his patience and long-term meticulous planning paid off.
More information about the OLYMPUS Pro Photographer Showdown is available at wssf.com/Olympus-Pro-Photographer-Showdown
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