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Kaz Yamamura gets back to his roots for Deep Summer win

Whistler-based photographer and filmmaker earns $5,000 and Bonny Makarewicz Memorial Trophy
Kaz Yamamura celebrates with his team after winning the Deep Summer Photo Challenge on Aug. 9 at Whistler Olympic Plaza.

It was pretty clear early on that Kaz Yamamura was in the running to win the 2022 Deep Summer Photo Challenge.

Primarily known these days for his video work—see—the Whistler-based Yamamura told the massive crowd at Whistler Olympic Plaza gathered for the event on Tuesday, Aug. 9, that it was “really fun to go back to my photography roots.”

The slideshow of his images—all shot and edited in three days—stood out for best pairing epic alpine images with jaw-dropping mountain bike tricks. His image of a biker suspended upside down in mid-air between two cliffs and over a traintrack earned the loudest cheers of the night.

In the end, he beat out five other photographers, taking home the $5,000 prize and the Bonny Makarewicz Memorial Trophy as part of the Crankworx event.

“It feels amazing,” Yamamura said. “My whole team dropped everything to help me out. I’m so thankful for everyone involved. I couldn’t have done it without them for sure.”

The warm summer evening marked the first time in three years that crowds returned to the grass of Whistler Olympic Plaza for the event. While the format, rules, and general vibe were much the same, this year there was an effort to better work with the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre and incorporate elements of reconciliation.

“This year we’ve returned to Whistler with a renewed vision,” said co-host Derek Foose. “We’re [working] with the SLCC for a new partnership.”

To that end, each slideshow featured images from Whistler’s Community Reconciliation Canoe, a months-long project at the SLCC that invites anyone from the community to contribute to carving the final canoe.

Participants were then invited to sprinkle cedar shavings from the canoe on their favourite places in Squamish or Lil’wat territory.

Whistler photographer Jeremy Allen’s slideshow, however, most deeply incorporated that spirit. He and an orange-shirt clad team walked onto the stage to set up his submission, in which he helped raise money for the Indigenous Life Sport Academy.  

“At first we wanted to buy two bikes for two super awesome young athletes here,” Allen said. “We raised $8,000 and then the sponsor dropped out. Then we crowd-funded—everybody here together as a whole—and we raised $30,000. That was made possible by so many brands and people out there.” 

(They’re aiming to raise another $10,000. Find out more at     

That slideshow featured some of the young riders who are in the program mixed with professionals. While learning the story behind the submission strengthened it, the overall presentation was also compelling for its pace, variety and music.  

“The Deep Summer experience was so much for me and I’m excited and stoked to be here,” said Deep Summer competitor Steve Dan-Andrews. “I got to experience so much, try out new features and ride some pretty awesome bikes … It was amazing to meet some new pro riders and engage in this culture and with all the people. I can’t thank everyone enough for getting me to where I am today.”