Wilkinson wins Deep Summer Photo Challenge 

British photographer rode every trail, was hoisted up trees to get the best shots

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CATHRYN ATKINSON - CHEQUE IN HAND Tommy Wilkinson (second from left) and his team celebrate winning $3,500 at the Deep Summer Photo Challenge.
  • PHOTO by cathryn Atkinson
  • CHEQUE IN HAND Tommy Wilkinson (second from left) and his team celebrate winning $3,500 at the Deep Summer Photo Challenge.

Deep Summer Photo Challenge winner Tommy Wilkinson had never shot in Whistler before.

His strategy for the 72-hour Crankworx competition was to be organized, and his team gave him credit for this skill as they were handed a cheque for $3,500 at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Wednesday, Aug. 17.

"I built a plan early on. I've never ridden outside of the bike park in Whistler, not the valley trails. I'd never seen them. I have a friend who works as a guide here so I arrived five days early and he took me down every trail. We did some serious kilometres," Wilkinson says.

"Once I did that, I made a three-day itinerary. I was asked to do it three or four months ago, so there was plenty of time to do a Google search and have a look at potential shots."

Wilkinson, based in Berwick-Upon-Tweed near the border between England and Scotland, was a competitive rider before an accident in 2013 left his right arm paralyzed and ended his career.

"The last time I rode in Whistler I was riding Garbonzo DH (at Crankworx) in the pro-category," he says.

Wilkinson has been shooting professionally for the past two years.

"For me, it's important to get the shot and not tire out. I don't like to take it a second time. That's why I plan. Get the shot and move on," he says.

"It's about being fit and healthy and having the idea in my head.

"I actually went up a lot of trees during Deep Summer. One of my friends is a tree surgeon and we had a pulley system arranged. I would get in the harness and he'd pulley me up 30 feet up a tree."

After three days of riding and very little sleep, Wilkinson was happy with what made it into the final slide presentation.

"This year there were some tight guidelines. We weren't allowed to do anything off trail, whatsoever. That made it more of a challenge but I was pretty happy," he says.

"I was working on it until 4 a.m. the day of the deadline and the final slideshow was put together between 4 a.m. and noon. Overall, I shot about 2,000 pictures but in the slideshow there was about 100."

The other competitors were Chris Pilling, who Wilkinson paid tribute to after winning, Rotorua Deep Summer winner Simeon Patience, Ben Haggar and Baxter Redfern.

The photographers were given three "iconic" Whistler shots that they needed to snap as part of the competition.

One was that endless view from the Top of the World trail with Black Tusk in the background. Wilkinson laughs recalling his shot, with rider Craig Evans managing to get his backside just above the big spike of the mountain.

"It was pretty spontaneous. I saw him climbing up and told him he needed to stay there for a second," Wilkinson says.

"We had a bit of a debate about whether it should go in, but we thought it was funny enough to make the cut."

Results for the Fan Fav Award, which was voted for online, will be announced on Thursday, Aug. 25.

For more information visit www.tommywilkinson.co.uk.

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