The JP Memorial is back for round two; Relive last year’s event via one man’s inspiring words

The JP Memorial is back for round two; Relive last year’s event via one man’s inspiring words

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I’m mighty fortunate to have attended the inaugural JP Memorial. It was approximately 10 months ago that I found myself at Riksgränsen, Sweden, 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, and even in-spite of suffering a nasty knee injury on day one (decking out on the hand-shaped QP, ugh!) I had the best damn time up there. The people were too kind. The locale was absolutely mind-boggling. The skiing opportunities: Endless. The contests: Spellbinding. I could go on…

In short, it was without question one of the best weeks of my life. After all, you can’t really go wrong when you’ve assembled a motley crew to celebrate the life of the late, great JP Auclair.

Among the many fine folks comprising the squad was a lad by the name of Bruce Brodie. He’d come from the UK and when it came to the act of skiing, he was about as novice as they come. Still, he loved strapping two boards to his feet and pointing ’em down the hill. This guy smiled non-stop. He soaked in the skiing action with wide eyes. He drank a fuck-ton of rum and he almost never slept. His perma-stoke left a great impression on me and I’m sure many others who partook in the event would say the same.

A few weeks after we’d all departed from the Far-North, Señor Brodie fired me an email; attached was a 2,400-word account of his experience. I considered posting his piece straight away but I opted to sit on it. I thought it might be nice to share now, in the lead-up to the second annual affair.

My hope is that folks around the world will be inspired by Brodie’s account—inspired to make the time, cough up the cash, pack the bags and get up to “Riks” this May. Get up there to celebrate JP. To enjoy the vast backcountry terrain. To witness and partake in the contests. To make new friends. To party until the sun… well, the sun doesn’t really set in Riksgränsen (at least not in May), so, just go with it.

Without further ado…

The 2015 JP Memorial
by Bruce Brodie


Each step is agony. I gasp for every breath. The compression pain in my spine is screaming, telling me to stop. Under my goggles, tears of pain are running down my face and my legs feel like jelly. For a moment, I wonder if I can even take another step.

Bracing against the slope, I look up through the fog. Just above, Micah is forging a path up the steep mountain. He kindly carries my backpack and he leaves a trail for me to follow, making my climb somewhat easier. Behind, Riley has [more of my belongings] tied to his back and is still beaming smiles at me. It must be the beers I promised as thanks for carrying my stuff. Evan is skinning up next to us while, far above, Corey and Sven are waving us up. The whole team gives nothing but encouragement. This is my introduction to ski touring.

It may be painful, but the good vibes are palpable as a massive gust of wind blows across the face of Nordalsfjäll, and Micah turns and shouts down to me, “Hey bro, I just farted!”

I burst into fits of laughter. The pain subsides and under the protection of my hood I remind myself of a quote from the great JP himself: “Improving is the main thing, no matter what level.”


The climb suddenly feels a whole lot easier.

An hour later, we’ve made it to the summit and take in the stunning view. It may not be a bluebird day, but to me, in that moment, we were standing on top of the most beautiful run in the world.

Skiing down is a memory I will take to my grave—the feeling of floating on top of the world is overwhelming, unforgettable and totally awe-inspiring.

After having skied, I try to stay calm and collect myself, but my emotions are in overdrive. I whoop and shout as hard as my burning lungs will let me. Riley, Evan, Micah and Corey… the whole team laughs as we high five and fist bump. I look back up at the lines we have carved into the fresh snow. What a bloody incredible feeling. I have finally earned my own turns for the first time. I have these gentlemen to thank.

So, what is a novice skier with less than 12 days on the snow (ever, in all his 35 years) doing ski-touring with some of the best skiers on the planet in the Arctic Circle? It’s simple and all comes down to one man: JP Auclair.


Growing up in the UK made it hard to be a ski fan, let alone a skier. We are pretty limited by nature when it comes to mountains. But the occasional magazine and VHS tape was imported and I’ll never forget seeing the image of JP doing a backflip mute. This was something new. This was the game-changer. Even for a novice like me, I could see that the skiing world was never going to be the same again.

The more I investigated, the more I learned about JP, his passion for skiing and his amazing ability to transcend disciplines: Moguls, freestyle, skiercross, big jumps, double backflips, ski touring, handplants… JP was the ultimate all-’round skier and his passion for the sport shone second to none.

I followed his progress as a fan over the years. I followed the rise of Armada. I followed the creation of Alpine Initiatives, an organization which struck a chord with me as a force for good amid a world seemingly hell-bent on wrecking the planet. JP was a man that I looked up to in many aspects of life and I was heartbroken when I heard the news of his passing.

When the inaugural JP Memorial was announced, it sounded perfect. A grassroots contest with a mission to transport participants back to 1998—to pay tribute to JP and to have fun. Immediately, I got in contact with Armada’s Chris “OC” O’Connell and begged to come along. Hell, I’d sit and watch and cheer, carry boxes, clean toilets… anything to just be there and pay tribute to the legend. The next thing I knew, I had a spot in the contest. I think OC missed the bit where I explained that pizza/French-fries was about the extent of my abilities, but I wasn’t going to miss this for the world.

The months leading up to The JP Memorial flew by and after a short hop over from London, I found myself at Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN) waiting for the overnight train to Riksgränsen. A Swedish work colleague had suggested that a first-time visitor to Sweden should experience the overnight train, so armed with some bottles of rum and Jack, I boarded the train and settled in for the 18-hour journey.

A Warm Welcome

Morning brought hazy recollections of being chased out of the bar-carriage by train security. I’d been pouring shots for anyone that wanted one, and apparently they have very strict laws on alcohol in Sweden. Looking around my sleeper cabin it was quite clear I’d hosted some sort of an after-party.

I swapped trains and for the final seven hours I watched the world go by while listening to tunes and chatting with other folks on the carriage. It’s a long trip, for sure. Each mile traveled added to the feeling of pilgrimage. The snow levels outside my window grew higher and higher as we sped along and eventually I arrived at Riksgränsen. This place was backcountry skiing Heaven. Or so I’d been told.

I drag myself into the hotel lobby and grab a coffee before heading outside to look around. Wandering about like a true tourist, I spot a group walking up the road towards me and I can’t quite believe it—it’s pretty much the entire Armada pro team. To be completely honest, my brain stops working and I manage to blurt out a sort of, “Holy shit… Wow! Hi!” to Riley Leboe, Kim Boberg, Jacob Wester and company. “This is insane,” I thought. These are the guys whose videos I’ve seen a million times, yet I can hardly put names to faces. How embarrassing! I sneak off to my room red-faced before regrouping and heading to dinner.

After a hearty meal alongside OC, it was time to collect our gear and head for the hill. Mind you, the sun barely sets this far north. Sure, I just had dinner, but the ski day never really ends here. The plan is to head up to the spot where it all began—to the place where JP himself sessioned a hand-built quarterpipe some fifteen years prior. Memorial-goers would meet for an informal intro. I’m fumbling about outside my room with my skis when I bump into Ingrid Sirois—JP’s partner and the mother of JP’s son—who proceeds to give me a huge hug as we introduce ourselves.

“Going to the quarterpipe?” I ask.

“Hell yes, let’s go!”

With skis on and new boots squeaking, I roll up to the lift. I jump on next to one Blake Kimmel and we chat on the way up. He’s an artist, designer, photographer and video-maker who works with Armada. We speak about filming and Blake lets slip that Corey Stanton, Tyler Hamlet and Daniel Rönnbäck are also among the group here at “Riks.” Again, I am red-faced. I know these artists from ski movies and magazines, but not faces. I have to pinch myself less than an hour later when we are all gathered ’round, introductions made, and we’re sinking beers and watching the skiers hit the newly erected, hand-shaped QP for the first time. Seriously, the entire Armada family is here, both in front of and behind the camera. As a fan, that is a pretty bloody good feeling I can assure you.

All too soon, day one draws to a close and we head back to the bar. It’s been the perfect start to an unforgettable week.

Pipe Dreams

I wake to an incredible blue sky and bright sun. Already, helicopters are ferrying eager skiers all about to explore and Ski-doos are drifting around on the snow planes in the distance. I run to breakfast and can’t believe my luck when I give a fanboy nod to Henrik Harlaut, who invites me to sit down alongside him and Brady Perron. I’m smashing down eggs and bacon while discussing the new hyper-baggy tracksuit-style pants that Henrik has helped design. I ask who he thinks will win the Champions League Cup final. I think it’s a shame he can’t join us in skiing this week because of a shoulder injury. “Next year man, next year!” Bloody awesome.

The weather holds fast as we make our way up to the QP, where Chris O’Connell gives a heartfelt speech and we all fist bump for JP. The atmosphere is quite magical and I can’t quite shake the feeling that this is going to be a red-letter day.

Well, quite frankly, the QP competition was mind blowing on that beautiful, sunny day. Julien Regnier, Jacob Wester and Fabien Meierhofer sent massive airs, insane blunts and mute grabs out of the pipe. The Bunch spread butter over every surface in sight and stomped some crazy landings. JP-style handplants were had by Kim Boberg and Riley Leboe. Per Spett aired so high the sun was blotted out and to top it all off, Phil Casabon smashed the laws of physics with his comp-winning nosebutter cork 9s. In-bloody-credible!

After the amazing show I find myself at the bar, and as it happens to be my birthday I buy a round for the group, who proceed to sing me Happy Birthday. Clay Bryant, Andreas “LoveStorm” Fausko and I end up making a night of it. We’re the last men standing at 4:00 a.m. and now friends for life. It’s best birthday I’ve ever had.

Flipping Memories

The backflip mute contest is equally memorable, with original Salomon 1080s coming out to play; beer; classic tunes; GT Snow-Racers; 90s outfits and the like, all creating the perfect ’98 atmosphere.

I must give honorable mention to Joel Andersson, who finally stomped a backflip on his GT; Clay Bryant for his beautiful backflip mutes; and the jump train at the end of the comp, featuring pretty much everyone in attendance. It was utterly spell binding to watch.

The competition is not all that stands out. The entire week birthed so many amazing memories. And to me, that is what made The JP Memorial so special. The place. The people. The memories. You can’t put a price on that. It’s a one-of-a-kind event and then some.

I won’t list them all or I’ll never get this write-up finished, but here are a few of the memories that spring to mind when I recount my days at Riksgränsen:

  • Walking into the lobby and seeing Stanton putting on a Mission Impossible-style suit in preparation of hanging out of a chopper to do some filming.
  • OC’s ’90s get-up on the awards night.
  • Listening to Blake, Tyler and Josh’s stories about filming in insane locations.
  • Andreas’ naked pond-skimming.
  • Jesper’s Yoda-like “Ski-doo you shall!”
  • Laps with Connor. “That looks a bit steep old boy. Ahh, fuck it!”
  • Julien Regnier and his Handycam, capturing classic ’90s-style film.
  • Forgetting everyone’s names… Sorry Phil! No really, Phil Casabon says hello to me at breakfast and in a rum-inspired hangover, I’m like, “Sorry, who are you again?”
  • Ingrid was an absolute tower of strength during the week and has one of the warmest smiles on the planet. Only days after meeting her we both shared “my ski-touring day was the best ever!” tales while waiting for drinks at the hotel lobby bar.
  • Last men standing with Clay and Andreas after many, many rums.
  • Riley doing handplants while downing beers.
  • Shadowing Daniel Rönnbäck and marveling at how much fun he has while getting such great photos.
  • Bumping into Ingrid and sharing touring tales while waiting for coffees.
  • The Bunch – they do things on skis that will make your head spin.
  • Finding a hidden gift from Alpine Initiatives.
  • Sinking beers and watching the sunset on the last night with Henrik Lampert. That was actually a very emotional experience to be honest. So many amazing moments… it was sad to see everyone leave one by one.

Last men standing!!! @claybryant @lovestormphoto "why is the rum gone?" ???? #thejpmemorialphoto

A photo posted by Brucie (@bruciebrodie) on

“Inspired” is a word that you see a lot on social media these days, but in this case I can say that the experience has inspired me and then some. I may be going gray fast, but I now have a determination to get better and come back for round two, raise a beer to JP and celebrate my hero with some of the finest people I have ever met—people I’m now honored to call my friends.

What really struck me was how accommodating and down-to-Earth everyone at The JP Memorial was. Armada is not a company, it is a family and it was an absolute honor to have been present to pay my respects to JP and to meet many of my heroes from the ski world. It was an emotional week, for sure, but I cannot think of a more fitting tribute. We love you, JP.

And if I may, I just want to extend a big thank you to Chris O’Connell for replying to my e-mail in the first place. In fact, I’d like to thank everyone I met, really. I hope this has gone some way to show why I kept grinning for the whole week like a total loon! Love to you all, and if you are ever in the UK, then you bloody well look me up!

Related: All in for JP Auclair; inaugural JP Memorial was a fitting tribute to the legend

The second annual JP Memorial honors ski pioneer JP Auclair, celebrates modern skiing’s roots and is open to anyone who loves snow and a good party. Contests will be held and awards given for: Best Trick; Best Mute Backflip; Best QP Straight Air; Best QP Trick; Best 90s Outfit; Best Hair; Most Fun; Best Photo and the ‘Send It’ Award. Event will be hosted at what is arguably the birthplace of modern skiing, Riksgränsen Resort, Sweden, between May 17-20, 2016. More information about the 2016 JP Memorial can be found, here. Registration requests can be sent to [email protected].

2015 JPM Insta Highlights

Send it for #TheJPMemorial

A video posted by Armada (@armadaskis) on

Unreal snowracer backflip from Joel Andersson (@traktshoono) at #TheJPMemorial Photo: @danielronnback

A photo posted by Armada (@armadaskis) on

Backflip mute from @claybryant at #TheJPMemorial

A photo posted by Armada (@armadaskis) on

#1998 #theJPmemorial with @danielronnback @rileyleboe incredible days up here.

A photo posted by Corey Stanton (@stantenisland) on

The best dudes! @casablunt @henrikharlaut1 #TheJPMemorial

A photo posted by Henrik Lampert (@hanklambo) on

Fabien Maierhofer brining it back to 1998 for JP. #TheJPMemorial Photo: @danielronnback

A photo posted by Armada (@armadaskis) on

May 7, 2015, 4:15 a.m. #TheJPMemorial #ArcticCircle

A photo posted by Henrik Lampert (@hanklambo) on

. Doing it for JP #TheJPMemorial ????: @jesten_

A photo posted by bunchsnap (@thebunchstagrams) on

@kimboberg | #theJPmemorial | Riksgränsen Sweden

A photo posted by Armada (@armadaskis) on

???? Alley-oop stale at #TheJPMemorial @lineskis #appertiff @hojdmeter ????: @alriclj

A photo posted by Pär Peyben Hägglund (@thepeyben) on

???? Birthday boy @thepeyben bluntin it out at #thejpmemorial . ????@blakekimmel

A video posted by bunchsnap (@thebunchstagrams) on

Best evening ever. ???? @treborian #riksgränsen #thejpmemorial @brpskidoo @oakley

A photo posted by Jesper (@jesten_) on

double nose grabbing, #theJPmemorial ????: @hjalmaranderssonphoto

A photo posted by kimboberg (@kimboberg) on

Film over digital | @tylerpbp at #TheJPMemorial

A photo posted by Armada (@armadaskis) on

The last ride #theJPmemorial #thejpmemorial #riksgränsen #vassi

A photo posted by Andreas Kantermo (@dechakantermo) on

@jacobwester sending it for #TheJPMemorial Photo: @danielronnback

A photo posted by Armada (@armadaskis) on

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