Deep Winter 2013 / by Strain

I'm writing this from the muggy confines of a rental house in a gated community in Tapachula, Mexico - please forgive me for not giving the subject a proper run-down. I wanted to get a few words out before I forget what snow even looks like. More on why I'm in Mexico to follow, if I have time. It's a bit of a crazy story. [singlepic id=588 w=320 h=240 float=left]While is seems strange to be writing of 'deep winter' from the Mexican jungle, a few similarities come to mind. Deep Winter was anything but. Warm, sunny - at times, downright tropical. A strong inversion had temperatures well above freezing in the Whistler Blackcomb alpine, and the high elevation sun had me in more of a sweat than today's jaunt through the jungle. I still haven't decided whether it is more stressful to be thrown into Deep Winter or deep Chiapas on three days notice. My utter lack of español speaking skills leads to me believe that I may be in for... interesting times. But, enough of Mexico - come back later for that one.

I got the call from Whistler PR while I was stuck in rush hour Taylor Way traffic, making my way to the city for a shoot at Cypress with Katal Innovations - despite the short notice, I knew I wanted another crack at the King of Storms title and accepted the invitation on the spot. Unfortunately, drunken mishap involving contact lenses and the wrong solution kept me stranded in Vancouver until Sunday afternoon, leaving me 2 days to scout, storyboard, and recruit a team for the gruelling 3 day grind that is the Deep Winter Photo Challenge.

Luckily, I had been thinking about Deep Winter since my 3rd place finish in 2011, and had a song and concept long incubating in my mind. Set to The Decemberists' "The Crane Wife 1", I had a vision of a winter love story: a mountain couple that shred - and shred together. When I found out that skiers McKenna Peterson and Dylan Crossman would be in Whistler during the contest, I thought there was potential. When I found out they were living in Dylan's camper, I knew my story was set.

My team was rounded out with my good friends Eric Poulin and Jake Cohn, along with out of town riders Nick Larson and Ryan Cruze. Local photogs Geoff Jansen and Erin Hogue rounded out the squad as my two amazing assistants. Despite the long days on the mountain, less than optimal skiing conditions, and stiff competition, we were able to pull together a slideshow that I was legitimately excited to present. The judges must have enjoyed my vision as they awarded my team 3rd place, behind wonderkid Reuben "are you for scuba" Krabbe and veteran Russell Dalby. Mike Helfrich took the 'best in show' crown for a photo that is easily the most badass frame ever captured from the Creekside dam. Marcus, you are beast.

I've done a few of these competitions now, and it blows my mind how special a place Whistler Blackcomb is. No where else has such a passion for photography - selling out the venue year after year - and it really is the best place in the world to be an action sports photographer.

Big thanks to Chris McLeod and the Whistler PR team for giving me another crack at Deep Winter. 3rd is nice, but my name isn't on the trophy yet - I'll have to make another appearance in a couple more years.

Here's the show. I had a great time making it - enjoy.