There is only so much print space for every feature. But, with a week at Retallack Lodge and an hour-and-a-half long interview, we were left with too much good content. So, without further adieu, here is some bonus coverage from my time spent with The Mentor: JP Auclair.
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CW: So Cody Lynge (from Orage) calls you captain back flip…
JP: I remember when I tried my first one. I was at Alta, skiing the moguls with Mike Douglas. We were on this rock that was pretty kicky and Douglas kind of talked me through it. It was super deep pow, and I realized it was pretty easy. Ever since then it’s been a big part of my life.
What tricks did you start out doing?
At first I was just doing Cossacks and spreads. Then I started spinning and that was my favorite. There was this 360 mute grab on a movie called Cosmic Winter, the first one I’d ever seen, and I was blown away.
On the bump tour we wanted to do tricks like cork 7s and we had to go through a whole bunch of paperwork. Even a 360 with a grab took months to get accepted. A friend of mine, Julien Regnier, was fighting on his own in France—he just said, ‘Screw the paperwork I’ll just do it anyways.” He was doing cork 7’s and all these crazy things on the World Cup and getting terrible results.
So you quit the mogul team?
It was pretty hard. As an amateur athlete in Canada you don’t have much support, so I’d have to work in the summer and raise like ten grand to pay for the winter. Then all of the sudden I’m getting paid to wear clothing because of what we’re doing in the park. At one point I thought if we just quit moguls everything would be so much easier. We wouldn’t have to fight to get tricks accepted, we would have more fun and would have an actual job. I had a hard time making the choice because it seemed like I was going to pick money over the Olympic dream. I talked to Douglas, and said, “Man, I totally want to quit, but I feel like a sellout.” He was like “Dude, chasing an Olympic medal is just as superficial as trying to do a sport for the money if that’s not where your heart is at. Just do whatever you want to do.” Long story short, freestyle is what I really wanted to do and is where my hearts were at, but we didn’t want to do all that paperwork. So I quit, and ever since ’99 I’ve been a pro skier.
After that did you move to Whistler or maintain your home in Quebec?
At first I maintained a home in Quebec but I was on the road all the time. When things slowed down a little bit I moved all my stuff to Whistler and laid there for a while doing backcountry. It was great to just be in one spot instead of chasing the snow around. In 2006 things picked up again for me, so I moved out of Whistler, took all my stuff back to Quebec, and then went back to car and plane all winter again.
What’s it like coming home after being on the road?
I’m usually there for a week or two and it seems like there’s not enough time to do everything. It’s pretty funny because my dad knows that. He’ll call and ask, “What can I do to help?” At first I always say “Nothing, I’m good.” Then during the last couple days I’ll ask for help. He’ll show up twenty minutes early to take me to the airport and I’m still two hours from being ready—the whole house is upside down, I’m running around in my underwear freaking out, and I just start screaming orders. “Do this, go there, pack my bag, mail that, ship this, send an invoice,” and on and on. He takes care of everything, he’s like my super kick-ass personal assistant.
How was it starting up Armada?
We were frustrated because we were all passionate about freestyle but felt like we had no outlet and we heard similar comments talking to guys in other companies. So we decided to sit down together and do something about it, which was big. We were just a bunch of punk pro skiers who didn’t know what we were doing. We rented a business meeting room in a hotel and sat at a table and just started brainstorming and talking. That was the first step. One thing lead to another and yeah…it’s been six years already; it’s crazy. It’s an outlet for all these ideas and creativity that we want to put in. The JJ is a perfect example. It was an idea Julian came up with and we talked about it a lot. We drew it and brainstormed and drew it again, and then produced it. Now the product is on our feet and we’re stoked.
What do you do outside of skiing?
Well I love surfing. I grew up mountain biking as well and that’s still something I love—not so much in the mountains, though. It’s funny because I still ride my mountain bike but I mostly like to ride it in the city, jumping curbs and chasing buses and that kind of stuff. I don’t know why, but I always had a fantasy to have a biking career. That’s kind of like my official off-season training, going on long rides around the city.
Surfing is something I’ve learned recently and once you know how to surf, it’s pretty hard to stop. Through skiing I also learned how to edit, and I really love that. I’m learning how to do things like graphic design, which I picked up on the go with Armada, and have just been getting involved with different projects.
We started a foundation last year with a bunch of ski buddies called Alpine Initiatives and that’s something I’d like to see grow in the future. It’s basically this tool to do cool things. We don’t really have a specific cause, our mission is to undertake good projects, really: environmental, humanitarian, anything. We just set up the platform and now it’s there. We’re basically a team and can have anybody come in and help us. Right now we’re building an orphanage in Kenya, we’re actually doing it ourselves. We went last year and then again this summer. That’s something I want to put more time into for sure.
Does that mean you’re into politics too?
It’s funny because with Alpine Initiatives a lot of people assume I’m super into politics and I’m not really. I have a bit of an inner conflict with how little I know—I’ve been trying to learn more, especially about local politics, but I just can’t get myself into it at all. Maybe it just isn’t tangible to me—I don’t see the impact. But doing projects where I can go myself and see the results is a lot more motivating and inspiring.
What do you think about the state of skiing these days?
Since freestyle came along the sport has progressed to the point where anybody can be a professional skier. Fifteen years ago you had to have access to big mountains and great skiing, or you would have to do moguls or racing or whatever. It’s great that you can be creative with your skiing. You can pick the spots you want, the mountain, the kind of terrain, choose the line and however you want to shape it. Then put it together in a movie afterward, select the music and editing, it’s endless. It’s such a long process and when it all comes together it’s really rewarding. There are thousands, millions of different ways to do it, and it’s just fun to have ideas in your mind and turn them into reality.