Rad Dads Rejoice: Chad Chomlack Wins Deep Winter 2016 at Whistler-Blackcomb

Above: Rad dads and their children, rejoice. Photo: Michael Overbeck.

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Dads are rad. Know how I know? It’s got nothing to do with #dadbod or Leonardo DiCaprio memes or Hallmark holidays.

No, it’s to do with Chad Chomlack. Chad’s a rad dad. So are JF Pelchat, Devun Walsh and DCP. it’s got to do with Deep Winter 2016 at Whistler-Blackcomb, the Tenth Annual rendition of the three-days-in-three-to-five-minutes slideshow contest. It’s a celebration of the usually dark and deep days that kick off the new year in coastal British Columbia, and is one of Whistler’s go-to, extremely hard-to-get-a-ticket, sold-out-before-it’s-even-on-sale events. (Officially, the 2016 ARC’TERYX Deep Winter Photo Challenge Presented by Gore-Tex® if you want to Google it.)

So what does this all have to do with rad dads, you may ask? Well it all starts with Bellinis. Ok, well it all started with Bellinis for myself and a few media-type comrades, at least, provided by the fine folks in the Whistler-Blackcomb PR department. Bellinis and burgers, in fact. See, one needs to warm-up a little for such a rigorous event. Because once you walk through those doors at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, things get moving real quick.

To wit: Feet Banks was on the mic. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Banks, he’s a fixture in the Whistler creative scene. Feet has jokes, most of which go over well. He’s good on the mic… especially after a few Bellinis, or Kokanees, or Smirnoff ice luge cocktails, or sparkling waters, or juice boxes, or whichever libation may have been your choice on Saturday night. He broke down the tension, somewhat, as the photographers came up onto the stage to present the fruits of four sleepless days and nights trying to pull out 3-to-5 minutes of engaging content. Which, I may add is no small feat: that means, as competitor Guy Fattal put it, “50 or 60 engaging shots in just three days.” Most days spent shooting in the mountains are considered a success if you get even one useable image—ten in a day is a heroic effort. So that should give you some perspective.

And speaking of Mr Fattal (yes, that’s his real name), he’s from Israel. He was part of the contest because he won the King of Dolomites event last year in Italy. Competing alongside of him were past Deep Winter winners Ashley Barker, Zoya Lynch, Russel Dalby and, of course, Chad Chomlack. A heavy lineup, most of whom, Chomlack being the exception, had won in years past. And they pretty much all featured dads (and moms) getting rad.

Dalby went first. His was the most photo-centric of the shows, if one can say such a thing. By that I mean he chose to focus on composition, lines, aesthetics as a form of visual storytelling more than any overt storyline. He even hauled a drone or some other type of get-above-the-rider mechanism out and got a few of my favorite shots of the event, overhead views of chute shredding and hiking in the backcountry close to the resort. Then came Barker and Fattal, each with a little more of storyline thrown in, playing on the whole generational thing.

Next up was Chomlack. The first half of his offering featured Whistler snowboard legends Walsh, Porcheron and Pelchat hucking around the mountain and then sending in the bar late-night—reminiscent of pretty much the last 20 years of snowboard media to come out of Whistler. The second half was the whole heastrings-engaged part of the show, as the three veterans laced up with their long-haired children and spun some laps with the next generation of their own making. Chomlack’s clean aesthetic brought it all together—the relative newcomer to snowboard photography is not a newcomer to Whistler (he’s lived there for more than a decade) and his polished imagery vibed well with an intimate perspective only bred by true engagement with his subjects beyond the confines of media days in the mountains. Simply put, it worked.

Zoya Lynch closed out the evening with an equally-localized piece featuring the iconic Treadway clan of snowsports enthusiasts, and it was very nice—nice enough to earn her third place. Barker took second. But Chomlack, well, he stole the show. I asked him to explain his feelings right after his win, but he was overcome with emotion. He hadn’t slept in four days. Couldn’t believe the support from the crowd. Choking back tears. Was honred to have won. Was ready to party. (And so was JF as he stripped to his underpants and stormed the stage).

Rad, dad.

A huge thank you to Sarah Morden, Chelsea Moen, Chris McLeod and the whole Whistler-Blackcomb contingent for taking care of us this weekend. Head over to the event page to vote for your favorite image from the contest. And stay tuned for more as the slideshows from this weekend go live for all to enjoy.


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