“Mountain Minded is a series profiling the AI family and friends, exploring the wide array of characters who make the mosaic of mountain people. In continuing to develop as an organization, we talk to the people who make it go round, and dedicate their time to the principles of giving back that AI was founded upon. This series dives into the lives and stories of people, and how JP influenced them to reciprocate the good will extended to them in life and skiing.”
Words by Nicholas Lampard
The north of England isn’t typically an environment renowned to foster deeply passionate skiers, but for Bruce Brodie, it’s the home that helped him find his roots. You won’t see Brodie’s name through the headlines of skiing’s major media outlets, but he, like many other freeski enthusiasts, eats, breathes, and sleeps skiing. His love for the sport and JP’s profound influence upon his life is what initially inspired him over the past 4 years to get involved with Alpine Initiatives, giving back to the sport that has given so much to him.
Currently living in London, Brodie spends his days developing video games with prominent software developer Ubisoft. “Funny enough, my career is directly linked to skiing in my youth,” he recalled as he implored his own history. An injury sidelined him for much of his childhood, but he sees the injury as a blessing in disguise, ultimately giving him a path in life.
“I did my back in as a kid and couldn’t do any sports for a while. I followed skiing in any way I could back then, but the injury forced me to find other ways to occupy my time outside of being a normal boy, playing footy and rugby and what not. I found myself spending time in the computer lab, on my own just messing around, so in a way the injury led me to my career, but as time has allowed me to heal, skiing was brought back into the picture,” Bruce further explained.
His first brush in with freeskiing was through a local ski shop in 1998, right as the New Canadian Air Force was beginning to make their revolutionary wave on skiing as a whole. Passing a local ski shop’s window, a huge poster was on display with none other than the Chris O’Connell photo of JP Auclair executing a perfect backflip mute.
“They had that picture in the window and below it was a pair of the first, gold Salomon 1080’s. I dragged– well, I guess she was willing, but I dragged mum into the store and I begged, I borrowed, I promised to mow the lawn for 50,000 years, I did anything I could to get a pair of those skis. That was the first time I had ever heard of JP,” Bruce fondly recalled as he remembered this key moment in his discovery of freeskiing.
That initial brush in with JP Auclair on a poster changed the sport as a whole for Brodie. He described the generalized attitude the UK held on skiing at that point, which ‘had a tendency towards the regulation of racing and FIS.’ His discovery of this newer movement opened his eyes to the possibilities of the sport.
A lot of JP’s influence in skiing was his deviation from those norms, and still is felt by many of skiing’s like-minded individuals; passionate enthusiasts looking for alternate ways to enjoy the sport we love dearly. Even though JP had no intention of helping to foster such a tight-knit community through his impact on freeskiing, the infectious spirit of expression that is shared amongst freeskiers is a commonality at any level of skill.
Brodie’s ties to JP Auclair are bound in admiration for this pioneering spirit, but he was never given the opportunity to meet his idol. Brodie mourned JP’s passing with the rest of the ski community in 2014, but interestingly enough, he attributes that event as being one of the catalysts that inspired him to initially reach out and volunteer with Alpine Initiatives.
“When I heard that JP had died, as a huge fan…hearing that your hero’s gone, is…rather unsettling,” he reflected. “I had been following the guy for years but had never met him. I still felt a larger connection though, because he is someone I look up to, not just as a skier but as a human being.”
"I reached out to Ingrid (Sirois) and Micah (James) asking if could attend the first JP Memorial in Riksgransen, and the next thing I knew Micah replied saying, ‘yeah mate, we’ve got you on the list for the contest!’ Alpine Initiatives really opened up their arms to me after that first JP Memorial like no one previously had; to an amateur British skier, with a bad back, who had never met the guy but was a huge fan, and we’re like a family now. It was so welcoming, and I will never forget that.”
Alpine Initiatives takes pride in being an organization open to all, further connecting any individuals willing to lend a hand. For Bruce, AI was that opportunity to extend his good will to others, and to further embed himself in a skiing-centric life.
“I think funding projects such as the The Hut Project are important to the ski community, as it’s a tangible way for AI to give back on a consistent basis and to educate others in a stimulating environment,” he elaborated when asked about the future for Alpine Initiatives. “In terms of leaving a positive legacy, I’m sure JP would be proud if we successfully gave others the opportunity for education, and to create safer practices in exploring the mountains that inspired us so deeply.”