Brilliant Imagery: Jussi Grznar Wins Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown in Whistler

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A Nepalese shaman sits encapsulated in a plume of exhaled tobacco smoke; the outline of his body barely visible behind the cloud of white, though the pipe in his hand is displayed in a clear, captivating focus. As the narrative soundtrack filling the room changes a slight course, a behemoth, snowcapped mountain takes the shaman’s place before our eyes. One after the other, vibrant images fill the jumbo screens of Whistler’s Conference Room, illuminating the awe struck faces of over 1,100 mesmerized viewers at the 2016 Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown, the world-renowned action sports photography contest held annually at Whistler’s World Ski and Snowboard Festival. As the music fades out, the crowd erupts with an uncontested applause – the winner is apparent at this point. Soon after, Jussi Grznar is awarded both the People’s Choice Award and $10,000 with the title of Best In Show.

Jussi, a Czechoslovakian freelance photographer now living in Vancouver, B.C. said he wanted “to bring his viewers on a journey” with his slideshow submission, a culmination of black and white and color photographs ranging from 10 years to two months ago. With a project consisting of brilliant images from the world over, it’s safe to say he did just that. Although Jussi is primarily a snowboard photographer, his natural eye and adaptability translate to the wide variety of stunning environments he travels to.

“I was really trying to have a strong focus on diversity,” Jussi Says. “From skateboarding to snowboarding to surfing, base-jumps, skiing, portraits, landscapes and travel – I wanted to show the viewers a bit of everything, because it’s really been an incredible few years.”

Judging by the images in which words do but a sliver of a justice to, “incredible” would be an understatement, and with high expectations from the Whistler community, Jussi feels a great sense of relief in finally premiering his project. Jussi has been attending the Pro Photographer Showdown for over a decade, and he knew this year’s competition would be fiery with the likes of Scott Rinckenberger, Jonathan Mehring, Krystle Wright and Gabe L’Heureux ready to present their life’s work, respectively, the same night. Jussi had been scrupulously constructing the finalized slideshow for nearly 6 years before presenting it this week, and he couldn’t be more elated with the support of his friends and the surrounding community.

“This is a literally a dream come true. I’ve been coming to the show for over 10 years now, and I just couldn’t ask for a better ending to what is already such an amazing night.”

Looking forward, Jussi says he’s going to use his winnings (first to party, then) to pay off the debts he built up from going on the trips described above. Being the freelance photographer with an appetite for adventure that Jussi is, it’ll then be time for him to do it all over again. C’est la vie, eh?

Thank you to Chelsea Moen, Mike Douglas and the rest of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival and Whistler Blackcomb crews for hosting another wildly impressive Pro Photographer Showdown. A special thanks also to the photographers, Krystle Wright, Gabe L’Heureux, Scott Rinckenberger, Jonathan Mehring and Jussi Grznar for capturing and sharing such inspiring imagery at this year’s event.


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