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Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Chris Burkard wins Red Bull Illume

By Megan Michelson
ESPN Action Sports

California photographer Chris Burkard's winning shot of surfer Peter Mendri in Chile.
Overall winner Chris Burkard accepts his award Tuesday night at Dublin's Trinity College.

Last night at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, some of the best action sports photographers in the world were honored for their work at the 2010 Red Bull Illume Image Contest.

The overall winner of the contest was Chris Burkard, a 24-year-old California surf photographer, whose winning shot featured surfer Peter Mendria riding a wave on Chile's West Coast. Nearly 5,000 photographers from 112 countries submitted images for the contest.

"I'm overjoyed," said Burkard, who won a Leica S2 camera and lenses for his prize. "It's hard to put into words being able to be nominated and to win this award in front of all your peers and people I respect. I'm truly blessed."

Burkard described his how got his winning shot. "We woke up the morning (in Chile) after the rains to howling offshore winds, swell was pulsing and the conditions were as good as they get. We drove to a spot in the afternoon that the locals had said, 'rarely breaks.' When we pulled up it was reeling left barrels for almost a football field's length. We scrambled to get out and surf ... I sprinted down the beach and hiked up a sand dune to get a pulled back perspective. The shore break was so big, and the offshores' plumes so high, that I was missing most of the best waves, but finally a set came through. The light, the wind, and the swell were perfect. It was as if everything in nature fell into perfect harmony for this single moment."

Stuart Gibson's shot of surfer Ryan Hipwood won Best Energy. "It was borderline un-surfable that day, the tide dropped and the steps in the wave were just going totally mutant," Gibson says.
Tim Korbmacher's shot of South Tyrolean biker Stefan Lantschner won Best Playground. "It took me a while to realize how massive this pipe actually was," Korbmacher says. "This was only a piece of an even bigger industrial pipeline system."

Fifty-three judges from around the world voted to determine 10 category winners as well as the overall winner. It wasn't an easy job. "I thought the pictures were fantastic," said British judge Alan Sparrow. "Every one of them was a difficult choice: It was hard to make a decision between the ones that won and the ones that didn't. The defining line between them was really close."

Eric Berger's shot of Dan Treadway won New Creativity. "On his first try, skier Dan Treadway sent too much snow down with him and I never saw him pass -- I only saw a wall of snow pouring over the opening," says Berger.

The 10 category winners are:

Experimental: Daniel Grund (GER)
New Creativity: Eric Berger (CAN)
SanDisk Sequence: Miguel Lopez-Virgen (MEX)
Energy: Stuart Gibson (AUS)
Illumination: Chris Burkhard (USA)
Playground: Tim Korbmacher (GER)
Culture: Vincent Perraud (FRA)
Spirit: Adam Kokot (POL)
Wings: Marcel Lämmerhirt (GER)
Close up: Nathan Smith (AUS)

The top 50 images from the Red Bull Illume Image Quest contest will be displayed on lightboxes free to the public at Trinity College Dublin until September 11 before embarking on a world tour.

Miguel Angel Lopez Virgen's shot won Best SanDisk Sequence. "I wanted to make the sequence different so I only used the image of when he first jumps in the air with his skateboard -- and then used his shadows to create the rest of the sequence."