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Joel is the technical guru behind the products that we carry at SkiUphill. If you follow our blog, you’ll see ‘‘ we carry this product’’ and he is the one behind the ‘we’ by staying up way too late researching, getting up impossibly early for alpine starts to test out new gear first hand and the one with endless technical knowledge. If you have a gear question he is your guy and he is generous in sharing that knowledge with our team at SkiUphill. He occasionally wears spandex for Skimo races but his real thing is ‘’checking out’’ big and steep lines in the Rockies. Meet Joel...
Where are you from? Riviere-Du-Loup, Quebec
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am from a small village 2 hours east of Quebec City along the St-Lawrence River. I discovered mountain sports and backcountry skiing during a semester in Europe back when I was studying at Laval University. I moved to Canmore in 2016 to work as a physiotherapist and to spend more time trail running, climbing and skiing. Little did I know that I'd meet Gavin and that we'd be opening SkiUphill a just over a year later...!
What sports did you practice as a child?
Short track speed skating is a bit of a religion in smaller cities in Quebec, so I did almost 10 years of turning left on really sharp skates! I also dabbled into some cross-country running and track and field back in high school. When I moved to Quebec City for university, I really got into triathlon for a few years as well as road cycling racing, cyclocross, snowshoe running and other endurance sports.
What brought you to the mountains?
I had the amazing opportunity to work as a physiotherapist in Canmore. The scale of the playground in the Rockies is just so impressive, and the access is second-to-none. And people in mountain/outdoors towns are super inspiring. It is so awesome to live in a town where I don’t feel like I’m an alien if I get up at 3 AM to go skiing!
What “personal touch” do you bring to SkiUphill?
I’ve always been a bit of a gear nerd, whether it's bikes, skis, shoes, etc. I am the kind of customer who walks into a store having done a lot of research and I expect the advice to be top-quality. At SkiUphill, we strive to be as knowledgeable as possible about the gear we carry. No bullshit, no marketing lingo, just facts, mileage and experience.
My background as a physiotherapist is also helpful when it comes to injury prevention, advice, boot fitting and shoe fitting.
What draws you to trail running?
Those who know me will admit I am not much of a hiker. But trail running Iets you connect in a very deep way with the environment and the terrain. With a pair of shoes and a bit of equipment any mountain or trail can become this fantastic playground and that's really special. It also happens to be easier on the body than road running and for a fragile guy like me that's also a win.
What is your favourite area to ski?
Hands-down the Icefields Parkway in the Rockies. The dramatic scale of the mountains and the glaciers breaking into seracs next to the highway really communicates the power and the danger of the environment, but it also all feels incredibly fragile. The mountains are right there for you to experience, but you also get to witness first-hand the effects of glacial recession.
What are your other hobbies/interests?
Climbing, mountain biking, baking.
What’s your ideal day out in the mountains?
An early start and a sunrise on the approach, a bootpack up a technical couloir, a couple spicy sections to make you feel alive and a bit of scrambling-climbing. Then a steep descent on perfect spring snow back down and a beer at the car after a long day out.
What is your ski setup this Winter?
Having been involved with SkiUphill for many years now, I've come to realize that there are tons of awesome skis out there. I've started caring a lot more about durability and extending the life of the gear I use as much as I can. At the end of the day skis are those resin sandwiches that can't have a second life or be recycled. Finding something I like and using that equipment for many seasons is what I am after. Right now I use Majesty Havocs and Superwolf Carbon skis. I use SkiTrab and Plum bindings for their reliability, performance and serviceability.
What is your go-to running shoe?
The Norda 001 is all I want to wear every single day. I am more than happy to pay the price difference for a pair of shoes that will last as long as 3 pairs of anything else. Gear should last longer and brands should throw everything they have towards durability and performance, not towards products that are meant to wear out prematurely.