The King of the Dolomites wants to be the King of Storms.
Israeli photographer Guy Fattal was a wildcard at the Italian photo competition last February — and, at 23, one of the youngest.
Working with Austrian riders Korian Konrad and Lukas Steger, their winning photo of the Pale di San Martino beat 13 pro teams and 108 amateur participants.
And now Fattal is preparing to compete for the first time in the Deep Winter Photo Challenge, now celebrating its 10th year. Five teams have 72 hours to take the best images and prepare a slide presentation.
The winner this year will take home $10,000 and be crowned the King or Queen of Storms. The second place competitor will receive $2,500 and third receives $1,500.
The winner of the People's Choice award will receive $1,000 and a heli-skiing trip for two with Whistler Heli-Skiing.
"My King of Dolomites experience was amazing," Fattal said in an email interview.
"There were a lot of teams and the goal was different than Deep Winter. It's a competition for the single best photograph. We actually took the winning shot in the morning of the first day of shooting. We toured the entire day before even skiing, but it really paid off."
Competing against Fattal this year is last year's winner Ashley Barker (Whistler), Zoya Lynch (Revelstoke), Russell Dalby (Pemberton) and Chad Chomlack (Whistler).
"With the 10th anniversary we wanted to bring back some of the previous competitors and have the cream of the crop, so to speak," said Sarah Morden of Whistler Blackcomb.
The photographers will be out shooting and preparing their presentations from Jan. 6 to 8, handing in the slideshows on the afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 9, just a few hours before the show at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Doors open at 7 p.m.
The competitors will be getting backcountry access this year.
"They will be sent out with ACMG guys from Extremely Canadian and they'll be able to venture as far into the backcountry as they are comfortable with, what works with their timeline," says Morden.
"Opening up all that terrain creates something a little different this year. It's going to be outside the box, that's for sure."
Fattal said: "Competing in Deep Winter has been something I wanted to take part in for a long time. It feels great just to be competing this year."
He is already in Whistler getting ready.
"There has been a lot of snow lately but you never know what conditions and weather will be until the shooting days themselves," Fattal said.
"I have a few plans for different conditions but it will all come down to working with what we are given and making the best of it.
"I enjoy the fact that some of the best action sports photographers in the world have to show their absolute best under the same time limits and conditions. It's amazing to see how creative some people can get."
Tickets are $25 and available at www.deepwinterphoto.com.