On Thursday, Teton Gravity Research announced a new online ski video contest called The Co-Lab. The idea is straightforward: Skiers are invited to upload edits to TGR's website, fans vote for their favorites, and then the highest-voted videos go to a panel of judges to determine the winner.
But here's where things get interesting. The grand prize for the winning edit: $100,000.
"We really wanted to make a statement with the prize money," TGR co-founder Steve Jones told ESPN.com this week. "We want this contest to have as broad an appeal as possible so we put together a prize that was meaningful and was going get people excited about spending an entire season filming, editing and putting these segments together."
The edits will be due sometime next spring. TGR will then take the top 10 or 15 edits and compile it into a greatest hits film that can be downloaded on iTunes. Jones says they expect both top pros and unknowns to participate in the contest.
"We've found with the athletes we've been filming over the years that we hold the controls -- we film it, we edit it, we put it to music," Jones said. "This open source video contest is a way to embrace the new media world and the way people are consuming content. It ultimately gives people their own platform and ability to express themselves and share it with the world."
Although getting a chance to film with TGR is not officially part of the prize package, Jones says the high caliber of talent it will take to win the contest could mean the athlete ends up filming with TGR in the future, if they don't already.
So, what do the athletes think? "[The contest] sounds awesome," pro skier Chris Benchetler told ESPN.com via email from Nicaragua. "Not knowing any details, I would say it's a great incentive for all skiers (amatuers, competition, and film) to keep their footage 100 percent unique, allowing the quality of edits to rise, which in turn will make the web less saturated with edits. I'm very stoked to hear more about it and can't wait to see the edits."
"I'm sure athletes will want to look into the fine print to see where that prize money is coming from to make sure it doesn't conflict with any of their sponsors and also there's the question of am I turning over all rights to TGR or do I still have the rights to use that footage?" says pro skier Mike Wilson, who has shot with TGR, Matchstick Productions, Level 1 and Poor Boyz over the years. "But to be honest, $100,000 is a lot of money and I think a lot of skiers will want to put together an edit. I mean, why wouldn't you?"
Wilson, who spoke via phone from Hawaii, says he thinks this contest will encourage skiers and filmers to think outside the box. "I think it'll take something really creative and unique to win it," Wilson said. "But that's awesome -- that's exactly what skiing needs right now."