Canton snowboarder wins part of GoPro $1 million challenge

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Canton's Andy Gryczan likes to strap a camera to his helmet and go zipping down tree-lined, snow-covered hills on his snowboard. A recent trip through the back country of the Kootenay mountain range in British Columbia has paid off to the tune of $22,222.22. 

That's Gryczan's share of the GoPro $1 Million Challenge, which he won along with 44 other extreme sport-lovers from around the globe. 

"I nearly screamed at the top of my lungs and got out of my seat," said Gryczan when he learned he was a winner. 

Skydivers, surfers and other adventurous folk were considered for the contest, which raked in 42,000 clips from 170 countries. The winners split $1 million and get a few seconds of their clip in the highlight reel. Gryczan's footage of him cruising down a snowy mountain earned him a spot in the feature. Contestants were required to use the company's new Hero8 Black or Max cameras. 

Gryczan, a Royal Oak native raised in Grand Rapids, said he's been snowboarding for about 19 years and often films his runs. For this winning video, he traveled to Baldface Lodge where he's gone the past three years. There, they don't use ski lifts. 

Andy Gryczan of Canton holds his award from GoPro

"The lodge itself is in the mountains and they transport you there via helicopter," he said. "On the days you are snowboarding, you ride in a snowcat on access roads on the mountain ridges and valleys to drop into the runs and get picked up at the bottom, so no ski lifts involved whatsoever." 

Gryczan, 33, says it's not uncommon for him to film his extreme hobbies. 

"Pretty much any of these kind of dedicated trips I do I will film with a GoPro or drone. I do a lot of drone work," he said, adding that he also does still photography. "I've done GoPro probably the longest of anything." 

Gryczan, who is the chief engineer of the Chevy IndyCar program by day and also enjoys motocross and sport biking when he's not snowboarding, says he has had fun connecting with other winners from around the world. He said he'll probably spend his share of the prize money on more cameras, more snowboarding equipment and traveling. 

For more of Gryczan's GoPro adventures, visit his YouTube page

Twitter: @melodybaetens