The International Freeski Film Festival, also known as iF3, is always a highlight of the year for the snowsports community. It showcases the creative collaborations of both athletes and filmmakers, and in turn sets the tone for the upcoming season. “Stoked” would easily top the list of most commonly said words at the event. Stoked for the films, stoked for winter, and especially stoked for the freeski community to reunite – to see old friends and make new ones. Just a year prior to the birth of Alpine Initiatives, iF3 came into creation. To quote the festival, “JP Auclair has been a part of the fabric of iF3 since the festival’s inception in 2007. In many ways, when iF3 celebrates the accomplishments of the filmmakers and athletes in freeskiing, it celebrates the legacy of JP Auclair."
This was my second year attending the festival. Last year’s was the last time I saw JP. We caught up quickly between films, having just met each other at the Alpine Initiatives retreat only a few weeks before. This year, while not physically there, his presence and legacy were undoubtedly felt. Fans, athletes and filmmakers alike anticipated each film screening while waiting in the lobby - from showcasing ridiculously good times to more serious metaphors, the bar is constantly being raised in different ways for this industry's films each year.
During JP’s tribute on Saturday, his close friends and family introduced a handful of short films and a song. JP's partner Ingrid shared with the audience the origin story of Alpine Initiatives and shortly after, others took their turn sharing heartfelt memories, stories, and edits. The emotions and energy felt through them were resilient to say the least.
We all walked away learning something about JP that we hadn’t known prior to this year's iF3 - which to me is not surprising at all. I don’t think it was surprising to any of us that JP took a trip to Japan specifically to become certified in Kendama (and that he insisted on getting a picture with the association’s president). It wasn’t surprising that he had completed endless amounts of side projects on top of having a hand and foot in every aspect of the ski industry. It wasn’t surprising that he was just as determined and passionate about making fun of himself as he was about being an athlete, filmmaker, philanthropist, and father - to name only a few of the many of the great things JP was.
It has been a year since JP’s passing and he will always be remembered by our community; a community full of passionate people who love to slide down snow-covered mountains with wood and plastic strapped to their feet. We are a crazy bunch, but it is exactly this spirit that enables our culture to stretch beyond boundaries and throughout time.
My all time favorite quote is from Sherpas Cinema's All.I.Can. – “I don’t think it’s about doing less, I think it’s about doing more. It’s about being more creative, it’s about being more active."
Huge thank you to iF3 and Felix Rioux for donating 50% of ticket sales and additional proceeds from last weekend's event to Alpine Initiatives and The Auclair Fund. Thank you for helping us continue to do more, be more creative, and be more active.
By AI intern, Katie Hitchcock