Deep Summer Challenge, the artistic edge of Crankworx 

Six Photographers gear up for 72-hour contest that captures Mountain biking in the Sea to Sky Region

click to enlarge PHOTO BY NICOLAS TEICHROB/NICOLASTIECHROB.COM - Winning shooter Nicolas Teichrob was first in the 2013 Deep Summer Photo Challenge.
  • photo by nicolas teichrob/nicolastiechrob.com
  • Winning shooter Nicolas Teichrob was first in the 2013 Deep Summer Photo Challenge.

Whistler's Sean St. Denis is gearing up for the Deep Summer Photo Challenge, part of Crankworx 2014.

"Whoever's in Deep Summer gets a one-time deal. It's your one shot to make it big," he says.

"I'm trying to get the best shots I can in the 72 hours that is allowed. I have a basic idea of what I want to get but when you're out there it can change. We have some locations in mind and hope the weather holds."

St. Denis believes he will shoot between 7,000 and 15,000 photos in that period. He didn't want to name his athlete subjects for the weekend, preferring to keep them secret for now.

Along with St. Denis are four other invited photographers: Christoph Laue from Stuttgart, Germany, Paris Gore from Spokane, WA., Toby Cowley from Toowoomba, Australia, Ale Di Lullo from Lake Garda, Italy.

The final and sixth competitor is Bill Hawley of North Vancouver, who was selected by readers of pinkbike.com.

Organizer Sarah Leishman says the "whole amazing process" to find the photographers starts as early as the previous December. This year, it's a young crew of men, with three under the age of 24.

"I'm not sure, but (22-year-old) Paris may be the youngest-ever competitor. But that's pretty typical in mountain biking. What's cool is that until Bill had been voted in as the second Canadian, all the others were from different nations," Leishman says.

After big changes to the competition in 2013, when Crankworx opened up shooting to cover the area between Squamish and Pemberton — with half of each slideshow to be shot in Whistler and the Whistler Mountain Bike Park — there were just minor tweaks this year.

"They can go anywhere else in the Sea to Sky, which is fantastic because it tells the true story of the mountain biking experience, which they are pretty excited about," Leishman says, "And because it's such a crazy time they are allowed to start shooting earlier, just after midnight on Saturday morning (Aug. 9)."

The audience's response to the change last year was enthusiastic.

"People were pretty excited. I think there is sometimes concern that the format runs stale. That's a really common concern and you do see patterns in the shows after years and years," Leishman says.

She adds that each photographer understands that they are searching for originality in telling the mountain-biking story, taking their skills to show the sport in a new light.

Five judges are taking part this year, with two others still to confirm.

"We have an amazing panel of judges, including Paul Morrison, who is our head judge. He's been judging these competitions since the dawn of time and took a couple of years off to compete in the shows," Leishman says.

"They're looking for amazing photos and they want them to be put together in a really thoughtful way but still be true to the art of the photo. We try to keep that consistent, but still celebrate these photographers."

Each photographer will make slideshow presentations of their work at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Wednesday, Aug. 13, at 8 p.m. The prizes are $5,000 for first place, $3,000 for second place and $2,000 for third place.

Priority seating will be on offer for $7, with the area beyond ticketed seating being free of charge. Tickets can be bought through Whistler Blackcomb Guest Relations or by calling 1-800-766-0449.

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