Voices From The North: JF Pelchat
JF is older than you and wiser… He has been there, done that. If you grew up snowboarding in the late 90’s early 2000’s you would have watched a Wildcat movie or two and dreamed of getting as drunk and or get as gnarly as they did in their hay day. JF, after years of straight lining it and getting huge he is changing gears. He has put his focus and energy on family along with changing the way you ride your board. With this years “the biggest change in snowboard technology since reverse camber” NOW Bindings have evolved the way we look at keeping our feet glued onto our board. His Now Bindings have turned heads and have gotten praise as a first year product. He has shown us with time and ingenuity you can make it happen in a big way. Here is what he had to say about the good ole days and what is going on now…
Ryan Winters: You started your snowboard life in St. Sauver (Quebec) growing up what was the factor that made you move out west?
JF Pelchat: In 1990 I first attended the Craig Kelly summer camp in Whistler and after getting off the plane, seeing the mountains and living the whistler lifestyle, I knew at that moment that at some point I was going to call Whistler my home.
RW: What was the biggest difference between snowboarding in Quebec and Snowboarding in Whistler for those people that want to make the leap?
JF: The shear height of the mountains, the amount of snow we get up here, the terrain and summer riding, this is a true snowboard paradise.
RW: Looking at the Whistler Scene circa late 90′s early 2000′s one thing that stands out in my mind is the Wildcats. It was a pretty amazing time. I remember watching that shit growing up and just being like “Man that is epic… That is what snowboarding should be like!” how was it like to be part of something like that?
JF: It was some of the best year of my life/career and I am very fortunate to have snowboarded during those years along such a talented and diverse group of shredders.
RW: What could this generation of snowboarders learn from the Wildcats?
JF: That no matter what snowboarding should always be about having fun and living every moment of it while not taking yourself to seriously.
RW: You guys where partying hard! What was the craziest situation that you got yourselves into?
JF: Honestly I can’t put that in print, my kids are getting old enough to read and people would come after me. If you think about it we probably did it, the cool thing when I look back is that none of us where into doing hard drugs it was just straight up liquid courage and some wild imaginations.
RW: Fast forward to today, you have your own brand (Now Bindings) that is one of the most talked about things since the whole Banana (Lib Tech) thing a couple years back. When did you have that light bulb moment and say to yourself “Oh a skateboard truck!”
JF: The funny thing is that I am not a skateboarder, I have done it leisurely but I was never fully into it. I grew up riding BMX. After all those years of riding I realized that bindings had been the same for a long time. I could see the bindings flexing under my foot and being uncomfortable and not performance oriented. About six years ago I said to myself how could I make a binding that is performance based instead of a tool to keep your foot on a board, so I looked at sports that influence snowboarding like surfing and skateboarding to see how they were turning their board without the use of straps or highback and ultimately skateboarding made more sense because of the moving parts. So I decide to incorporate that skate truck movement into a binding and use leverage to bring more power to your edges.
RW: Did you expect these bindings to get as much attention as they did? I mean they are everywhere from ESPN to the Montreal Gazette.
JF: I didn’t expect that to happen at this speed but I knew that the binding perform like no other and that people found it really good on their feet (comfortable) and they really liked the feel of it. From there it took on a path of its own, it’s a perfect blend, ex-pro, new binding technology, skateboard influence, performance based, really comfortable, Jeremy Jones, Devun Walsh, and the YES. team then add social media into the mix and this shit is bound to create a buzz.
RW: Is it funny to look back now and see that there were some issues in the beginning getting a company to manufacture and get behind NOW?
JF: It sure is and I remember meeting with the 4 biggest snow brands and being turned down, even if they all thought I had a great idea. Now looking back, meeting Nidecker was a blessing in the sky and I am happy that it didn’t work out with the others because things wouldn’t be the same and I would have sold my soul.
RW: This is year one. Have any ground breaking plans for year two?
JF: Remember the three Re’s, NOW is: REinvention, RElevant and REvolutionary.