While there's plenty of action planned for the slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains during the 10 days of the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, this year's artistic offerings look equally promising. But it's the multimedia events on the schedule that really stand out: in particular, the Pro Photo Showdown, 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown, and the new ThreePointOh Multimedia Challenge.
"There are iconic events that have come to be associated with the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival that sell out every year, like the Olympic Pro Photo Showdown and the 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown, and there's no point in reinventing the wheel when the wheel is perfectly true and rolls really, really smoothly," said Lisa Richardson, spokesperson for Watermark Communications, the company that organizes TWSSF.
"Those two events just keep getting better and better every year, I think because the traction that they have and the reputation that they have, sort of increasingly international, is drawing more and more talent."
This year, the Pro Photo Showdown drew 26 applicants from all over the world. The five finalists - Scott Pommier, Ian Ruhter, Christian Pondella, Daniel Blom and Jordan Manley - come from as close to home as Vancouver /Whistler and as far away as Sweden.
"I think last year we saw a little bit of a shift, or just a door opening a bit, with Kari Medig. He was saying, 'I'm not really 'action sports,' I'm a little bit more soulful. I have a little bit more of a documentary feel,'" Richardson reflected.
It turns out that both the audience and judges received this deeper approach to photography very well - Medig ended up walking away with first place.
"When I spoke with Kari about his experience last year and what it was like, for a photographer not from Whistler, he was like, 'it's pretty incredible to see how informed the audience is about what makes a good photo and what makes a good action sports photo,'" Richardson said. "So it's a medium that people out here get, and I tend to think that people who are drawn to live in the mountains have a heightened sense of aesthetics. That's why you would forgo all the other benefits of living in a city."
The Pro Photo Showdown takes place on Thursday, April 23 at 8 p.m.
Another popular multimedia event is the 72-hour filmmaker showdown, which seems to get bigger and better each year.
Over time, Richardson has watched the competition evolve and become more sophisticated, with filmmaking teams coming from as far away as Los Angeles and Montreal to create five-minute shorts that focus on an incredible range of subjects, all produced in just three days.