April 8th, 2023
Many familiar faces from the world of skiing gathered at Woodward, Park City for a day of sunshine, mute grabs and adoration as the annual JP Memorial commenced. A beautiful celebration of life for freeskiing pioneer JP Auclair, the event is a wonderful chance to come together and continue the legacy of community and creativity that JP embodied. Skiers participated in a banked slalom course, half pipe session and hot laps through the finest spring park around. With help from the Utah Avalanche Center, SOS Outreach, Wasatch Adaptive Sports, One Love Ski & Snowboard and of course Armada, the celebration was as lively as ever.
For those unfamiliar, JP Auclair was a pioneering member of the New Canadian Air Force. (The Salomon short film below beautifully tells the story of the NCAF.) The crew consisted of JP, Mike Douglas, Shane Szocs, Marc McDonell, Vincent Dorion and JF Cusson. They practically redefined what it meant to be a skier in the late 1990s, molding the sport and jumpstarting the culture for a new generation. With roots in mogul skiing, the NCAF wanted to break the mold from the traditional formats they grew up with. At that point, skiing was a stale entity defined by upscale vacations and strict FIS competitions. Big mountain was growing but existed on the fringes of the community at large. Street skiing, freestyle disciplines and freeride were pursuits only for snowboarding; the cool kid on the block. Skiers weren’t allowed in most terrain parks, and few people dared attempt anything like a misty or a 720 on skis.
That all changed with the TenEighty ski from Salomon, born from the minds of the New Canadian Air Force. It was the world’s first “freestyle” ski, and it was the tool that recalibrated the industry and introduced a new way to have fun on the mountain. These 6 rippers helped to cultivate the exciting, innovative and compassionate community that freeskiing has become. While there are undoubtedly hundreds of other names that helped get the culture to where it is today, (shoutout to Candide of course), the NCAF played a momentous role.
JP went on to pursue nearly every path in skiing with a craftsmanship-like dedication that few ever strive for. He became one of the best freestyle skiers in the world, winning the 1999 US Open with the yellow TenEighty hoisted high above his head. He co-founded Armada Skis in 2002, bringing skiing’s first athlete-founded brand into existence. From there he would go on to shape skis, create original outerwear, and direct, edit and ride in ski films, all while continuing to explore and ski at an elite level. His projects were diverse and fresh in every sense of the word. From his legendary street segment with Sherpas Cinema (which he not only skied in but also directed) to ripping massive lines in Bella Coola, BC, JP dabbled in everything skiing had to offer.
In 2014, JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson were caught and killed in an avalanche near the border of Chile and Argentina. Their deaths have undoubtedly left massive gaps in the ski world, but they have also given us reason to be better ourselves. Without people like JP and Andreas, skiing needs all of us to step up and fill the voids they left. JP is remembered not only for his contributions to skiing but by his charity, Alpine Initiatives. Working to connect people to the mountains, Alpine Initiatives emphasizes the principle that skiing is not the end all be all, but rather a medium to connect with others and the world. The compassion that JP spread and the communities he cultivated now serve as reminders for each of us. Foster growth, pursue your craft with dedication and include as many people as you can. These, along with plenty of other sentiments, are what the JP Memorial carries on.
While digging through the FREESKIER archives, we found two heartfelt tributes to JP from friends Johnny Decesare and Chris O’Connell. Click their respective links to read recollections from two people closest to JP.
Click here for the full recap of the 2023 JP Memorial from Armada.