This was my third year participating (and first year fully planning) the Ski Salt Lake Shootout. Having been a part of the planning stages in the past, I knew more or less what to expect: thousands of emails, hundreds of phone calls, Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, Power Points, countless meetings... you know. The usual stuff that goes along with event planning.But what I didn't expect was how incredibly hard it is to be a part of the judging process. The judging panel included Dave Reddick, photo editor of Powder Magazine; Chris Pearson, creative director of Ski Utah; Jeremy Pugh, editor of Salt Lake Magazine; Brian Wimmer, director of X-Dance; Gabe Glosband, former marketing director of Scott USA -- and me.This was the first time I'd been involved in judging the Shootout, and I've got to give the judges props. For no reason other than out of the kindness of their own hearts, they all agreed to spend a gorgeous Saturday with me cooped in a conference room eating bagels and sipping coffee. Granted, it was really fun looking through the 60+ images submitted. But oh man, choosing which portfolios were "winners" and which "were not" was painful. At times I desperately wanted it to be like in elementary school where everyone wins.Not only were the images beautifully shot, but we all knew how hard everyone had worked. From 4 a.m. wake-up calls to shooting until 11:30 p.m. to hiking miles and miles in the snow only to ski, dig and shoot some more. Every photographer and athlete worked themselves to the bone.But the judges took their jobs very seriously, and after three straight hours of discussing each image in great detail, comparing it to all the other images submitted, then going back and discussing nearly all of them again and again and again -- we finally came to a decision. Garrett Grove of Bellingham, Washington was awarded first place for his portfolio. It was a diverse and beautifully crafted portfolio that we all agreed showcased what makes Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude special.Andrew Strain of Vancouver took second with his portfolio. Although this was fourth year of the Ski Salt Lake Shootout, this was the first year snowboarders like Strain were eligible to enter the competition. A decision I think we're all happy about. Local photographer Steve Lloyd won third place for his portfolio. Lloyd's portfolio included one of the most unique images of the entire competition, which showed his true mastery of lighting. Another local photographer, Lee Cohen, won the "Urban Meets Mountain" category. His image truly showed the proximity of downtown Salt Lake to the world-class skiing and climbing available in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon.