It took a moment for Swedish photographer Daniel Ronnback to realize that he had won the Deep Summer photo competition.
There was a pause before he and his team of riders hit the stage at Crankworx in Whistler Olympic Plaza on Wednesday, Aug. 16, but when reality hit, there was plenty of rejoicing and champagne spraying.
Onstage, he expressed surprise and made several hundred people laugh with his first reaction:
"The other ones were so good. (Watching them), I was, like, fuck."
Ronnback took home $5,000 and the Bonny Makarewicz Trophy. Earlier this year, he also took part in the World Ski and Snowboard Festival's Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown, and had shot the course at Crankworx four times.
His photo slide show, Jungel Fever, combined images of riders speeding or doing tricks through the Whistler Mountain Bike Park and on trails around the resort — but Ronnback threw in a twist in the form of small toy animals, which he had strategically placed in order to be part of the shot.
In an interview following his win, Ronnback said he hadn't planned for the competition.
The original aim was to shoot with a team of four Swedish slopestyle athletes, but he lost almost all to other competitions and found himself in Whistler without riders on the first day of shooting.
"I had to make a new team. All these locals joined me, and I was really stoked to have them," he said.
Those locals included Andrew Bradley, Kenny Smith, Abi Carver, Quinn Harley, Josh Hall, Matty Richard, and Swedes Max Fredricksson and Martin Söderström.
"We had so much fun and I saw a lot of trails I hadn't seen before, built by locals," Ronnback said.
And in keeping with that spontaneity, Ronnback bought his toy props in Whistler, spending $300 on bears, giraffes, sharks, moose, penguins, lions and more.
The unsuspecting penguins, for example, were covered in glacial snow thanks to a team member skidding next to them; while Ronnback positioned the toy bears to mate as an athlete rode by, getting huge laughs.
Ronnback said a lucky young cousin would take ownership of the menagerie once he returns to Stockholm.
He also did a helicopter drop one day for some unique shots.
A poignant moment for Ronnback was chancing upon the memorial to photographer Makarewicz, a photojournalist and long-time judge of Deep Summer, while shooting on Billy's Epic on Rainbow Mountain. He didn't use the image he took of the memorial in his presentation, but was keen to share it after his win.
Steve Shannon of Revelstoke took home second place and $3,000, while Jb Liautard was third, earning $2,000. The other competitors were Whistler's Ollie Jones, Montreal's Julien Grimard, and San Diego's Satchel Cronk, the competition's wildcard entry.