Putting the gears in focus 

Crankworx features new mountain bike photography competition, with roster of professionals to shoot over three days


What: Deep Summer Photo Challenge

When: Wednesday, Aug. 12, 8 p.m.

Where: Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Cost: $15

The riders who are front and centre at Crankworx often make their way down the jumps and trails of Whistler and Blackcomb at such speeds that the average spectator could blink and miss them. But organizers from Whistler Blackcomb have decided to add a whole new artistic event to this year's festivities, one that is designed to showcase the finer points of the art of biking with the click of a button and the rattle of a shutter.

Starting on Friday, Aug. 7, six photographers will head into Whistler's hills armed with an arsenal of equipment and a team of assistants and riders to capture the essence of mountain biking through the lenses of their cameras, all as part of the inaugural Deep Summer Photo Challenge.

The event is modeled after the popular Deep Winter Photo Challenge. The concept is actually quite simple: professional photographers have three full days to shoot and compile a slideshow, which will be judged by a panel of five industry professionals. The three top entries each snag cash prizes and some serious cred, as this is the first event of its sort for the mountain biking world.

Michelle Leroux is coordinating the Deep Summer Photo Challenge for Whistler Blackcomb. She explained that while Crankworx wasn't exactly started as an artistic event, it soon proved to draw a massive crowd of bikers and non-bikers alike who were as interested in the awe-inspiring aesthetics of the sport as they were in the jaw-dropping tricks pulled off in the boneyard.

What started off as an event that was held on an already-busy weekend has grown into an annual attraction that can more than stand on its own two feet, drawing massive crowds to witness the on-hill competitions and join in the off-hill festivities.

"It's turned into this broader kind of experience that not just mountain bikers are interested in," Leroux said. "...It's marrying the athletic side with the art."

The competitors represent some of the world's best mountain bike photographers, with Mattias Fredriksson, Yorick Carroux, Harookz, Dan Barham and John Gibson tapped to compete. Plus, one lucky photographer was selected from a wildcard competition to compete against the professionals. On a submission of three photos, Bryan Ralph - a.k.a. ralphie - was chosen from more than 40 applicants. Make no mistake, though, ralphie is no stranger to the format of this competition, having placed third at the second annual Deep Winter Photo Challenge.

Haruki Noguchi is one of the five photographers invited to participate in the Deep Summer event, though he's better known in the industry as Harookz.

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