I remember Mattias Fredrickson’s Team Scanada Deep Summer show
like it was yesterday. I went home inspired and a new dream was born. I’d just started to ride and shoot bikes that summer, it looked like so much fun and Crankworx was already my favourite part of the year.
Looking back at my first images, I had no idea what I was doing. Not knowing the sport, I had no clue how to take a good biking shot. Despite my crappy shots I felt excited any time my camera and bikes got involved. As the years passed, I recalled Jordan's Manley's winning show
. I didn't sleep that night, thinking to myself 'one day...'
Fast forward another year, and I watched Robin O'Neill
take a win. All the shows were amazing and I knew, I was ready.
The desire to be part of this amazing event was so strong, I wanted it so bad. I had numerous sleepless nights last winter. For some reason my brain thought the best time to think about it was between 2am - 5am. Fun times!
It was time to submit my work and wait. The first reply was “Thank-you, but we have already sent out the invitations.” A little disappointed, but definitely relieved, I felt I'd done everything I could to get in... that was, until the end of May.
An email appeared in my inbox, while I visited my family back in Europe, asking if I am still interested to participate. One of the photographers wasn't able to make it and they offered the spot it to me. Oh, man. Shit just got real!
I’d keep reading the email over and over, not really believing it, pacing around my room talking to myself, “breathe, breathe. Oh, shit! I am in! I am in! Oh shit! OK, I can do this.”
The two weeks in Europe were a blur, trying to chill out with my family and friends while desperate to get back to Whistler, it took almost a month before I could share the news. The toughest secret I've ever kept for sure.
Finally, the photographers were announced. I can't believe that I am competing against photographers like Scott Markowitz, Reuben Krabbe, and Ian Hylands. I didn't know much about Jon Hayward at that time and wildcard winner Mike Zinger hadn't been announced. Checking Scott's and Reuben's websites didn't help at all. By now, I was in full panic mode. Time to refocus, time to think about the riders and the theme. Thinking about it, I could possibly work with some of my favourite riders. How rad would it be to have Cam McCaul, Matt Hunter, or Thomas Vanderham on my team? Pretty cool, as I imagined bossing Hunter around. There were a few themes in my head, but one of them kept surfacing more than the others. More and more I thought about “Generations” I knew it was the keeper. I said goodbye to Hunter, McCaul, and Vanderham and start focusing on reality.
The idea of Generations came from my own experience. I noticed that people I ride with are not necessarily my age. Thanks to biking I started to ride with guys almost 20 years younger or older. There is no generation gap. We share the same passion for riding no matter how old we are, no matter what age you are, we bike for the same reason. I just needed a team to tell my story.
My first rider was Fiona, we met less than two months before the competition during a mountain bike camp. She was the sweep in my group and we ended up chatting most of the day. I couldn't believe her abilities on the bike. Late in her 50's, she only started to ride DH four years ago. It's never too late. She is smart, funny and a very successful business woman - an inspiration to many of us.
The next one was Steve, a rider in his early 30's and possibly the nicest guy out there. We’d done a couple of shoots earlier in the year and I instantly knew he’d be one of my riders. He would come to our meeting with written notes about his suggested shooting locations, he would show up injured and during the nastiest weather conditions for a seven hour shoot just to help me to finish an assignment. I knew I could trust him and he would be an asset when it came to scouting.
Through Steve I met Ollie, a 20-year-old kid with a crazy British accent. When I think of Ollie, I think roost. That kid can roost anything and all the time.
Finn, the 9-year-old local ripper has been in my mind for a while. I've seen the videos of him and was stoked to get him on the team. I wanted a shot of Ollie showing him a feature that he’d never done and the drop he did in the show was his first time. It was cool to watch these two guys talking about it and checking it out and to see the smile on his face once he did it. The whole team was stoked. It wasn't just about the photos. Something that I believed in was actually happening in front of my eyes.
The toughest part was to choose somebody in their 70's. There’s no shortage of great riders that age in Whistler, but I was looking for a great personality. Someone who would gel with the team and work well with Finn and younger guys. Tom Thomson was that man. We all had such a great time while shooting his segment, he had unbelievable stories to tell; so much so, that we almost missed the Top of the World trail on our last day as we had such a hard time leaving his home and art studio.
The team would not be complete without Mike Gamble and Ben Shaw, both from SheGNARnigans, helping me through the days. Gamby had done an outstanding job with editing and putting the slideshow together. Considering he didn't sleep for almost a week, he was still editing the video for GoPro Dirt Diaries during the first day of Deep Summer. With nine hours of sleep in four days, this was the best week of my life.
I met people that became close friends and I lived my dream. To top it off, two of our riders got podium finishes and our SheGNARnigans team won 2nd place with our Dirt Diaries video. I can't even describe how I felt when my name was announced to get 3rd place for my show. Everything at that moment became a blur, but the thing I remember the most is the loud cheer from the audience. I will never forget that. Local support from friends is amazing and I am so proud to be part of this community.
You might ask what I am up to these days. The snow is melting and we are slowly getting the bikes out. A few shoots are planned before a big trip to an exotic location with SheGNARnigans happens this spring. We have less than a month left of planning and sorting out any final details about the trip.
You can follow our work or our updates at:justajeskova.comshegnarnigans.com