Today, along with the rest of the ski world, the Association of Freeskiing Professionals is deeply mourning the loss of a true pioneer, legend and icon in the sport of freeskiing, JP Auclair.
Yesterday, while climbing Monte San Lorenzo on the Chile-Argentina border, Auclair, along with world-renowned ski mountaineer Andreas Fransson and photographers Daniel Ronnbak and Bjarne Salen, were caught in an avalanche. Fortunately, Ronnbak and Salen were unharmed, but Auclair and Fransson's untimely passing has been sadly confirmed by multiple news agencies in the region, and the world at large.
Along with pioneer, legend and icon, there are many words that aptly describe JP: leader, innovator, creative, visionary, intelligent, inspiring, and most of all, humble. In addition to being a truly wonderful human being, his list of contributions to the sport of freeskiing is a thousand miles long, but in a nutshell, if it weren't for JP, freeskiing wouldn't exist.
Alongside Mike Douglas, JF Cusson, Vincent Dorian and Shane Szocs, JP was one of the first individuals to begin throwing snowboard-inspired tricks on skis, which included grabs, switch take-offs and landings, and off-axis rotations, and many of the tricks he invented and championed are still being done on a daily basis today. It wasn't just tricks we have JP to thank for though, as while performing them, he did so on the first mass-produced twin-tip ski, the Salomon Teneighty, which he and the rest of The New Canadian Air Force helped develop. It was largely due to JP's efforts that freeskiing was born.
From there, JP began competing in virtually every contest during the dawn of freeskiing, including X Games, the US Open, Gravity Games, and so on, which helped pave the way for the AFP World Tour as we know it. Following his exploits on the contest scene, never one to sit still or tread water, JP then set his sights on the backcountry, first via jumps, then peaks, and more recently, as a blossoming and exceptional ski alpinist.
While ushering in the era of freeskiing, and changing the sport as we knew it into what it is today, JP taught us many things: patience, perseverance, innovation, humility, and most of all, that if you set your mind to it, nothing is impossible. Without him, there would be no skiing in X Games or the Olympics, there would be no AFP World Tour, there would be no skis to perform said tricks on, and there would be no freeskiing.
So when you're out there this winter and next, and every winter after, whether you're competing in a slopestyle, halfpipe or big air contest, or just out skiing with your friends on a pair of twin-tip skis, remember JP. Because without him and his love for the sport we all cherish so deeply, we wouldn't be having quite as much fun.
On behalf of everyone at the Association of Freeskiing Professionals, our hearts go out to the freeskiing community, which JP helped build, and to his and Andreas Fransson's loving friends and families during this tragic, senseless and difficult time. We will miss you dearly, and we will never forget you, and what you did for all of us. Rest In Peace.