The Mayrand Podcast is about skiing, life and everything in between. Straight out of the gate in its first season the show has hosted some serious guests including; Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, Alex Bellemare, Alex Hall, Jason Levinthal, LJ Strenio, Phil Casabon, Vincent Gagnier and many more.
As a proud sponsor, we wanted to catch up with Xavier Mayrand, the man behind the podcast, to find out more about the show and his journey in the freeski industry.
Why do you feel a podcast is the best medium for what you're doing?
I feel like ski movies filled a big role in telling stories about the skiers we look up to. Sure, most of them were ski-porn, but through interviews, behind-the-scenes, or lifestyle shots we could learn about their season and see what their challenges and struggles were. It gave us an insight into their adventures that we don’t get to see as much nowadays. In my opinion, social media part fills that gap as it allows us to follow what people are up to, but it’s missing something in terms of depth. That’s why I feel a podcast is such a good medium right now, it’s a convenient format for skiers to discuss multiple subjects they rarely have a chance to delve deep into, and on the other side, it gives ski enthusiasts entertaining content where they can learn a bunch.
You've had a serious lineup of big names on the podcast's debut series, Phil Casabon and Alex Hall to name a few, but who's been your favourite guest from the first season and why?
I've got to say I enjoyed talking to every guest. It was so much fun getting to talk to such a broad spectrum of skiers and personalities and hearing about their stories. If I had to pick a favourite though, I’d say LJ Strenio. He’s a skier I’ve been looking up to forever and he was a super kind and generous guest. He has had an incredible career but is still humble and he still is super stoked on skiing which is so nice to see.
Big names bring big stories, but what are the best stories you've had from a guests during the first season?
There were so many great stories. Mikael Kingsbury dealing with pressure and winning an Olympic gold medal. Alexi Godbout and the Blank Crew getting their only hard drive stolen in the Yukon. Giray Dadali explaining the engineering going into making skis. Legends like Félix Rioux and Jason Levinthal talking about the business of skiing. Alex Hall and Peyben talking about their creative process working on a film project. On the funny side though, the crown would go to Alex Bellemare. We did a 2-part discussion about his whole career and the funny stories were endless. From missing his flight to film with Level 1 in Japan, to forgetting his ski boots at home on his first-ever photoshoot with Orage.
How are you able to convince such big-name athletes to come onto the podcast? What do you think is the main appeal of your podcast?
I knew it would be easier starting with people who I already knew, rather than asking someone to come on with a blank slate of episodes. A lot of guests I've known for a long time, so this was a great way to get the ball rolling. Then, when I was asking these big-name athletes, they had either already listened to the episodes, or they'd seen the guests I've had on and were keen on being a part of it. It was a really cool experience, as everyone was keen to hop on and were stoked about the discussions we had.
We hear a lot from the guests on your podcast, but we'd love to know more about its host. Where did your journey begin and where has it taken you over the years?
I did a quick episode when I launched the podcast called ‘’episode 0’’ to present myself briefly.
I’m from Montreal, Québec, Canada. I grew up being the usual Canadian kid, playing hockey and going skiing on the weekends. Then later on, when I was 10, my parents got me into ski racing and that’s where I got super into skiing. My routine for the year would be to ski gates all day, then switch for my twin-tips and go hit the park. I started filming skiing in Quebec following my brother around in 2007.
Then, being friends with a lot of great skiers like Dom Laporte, Hugo Pelletier and Laurent-O Martin, I got more and more into filming. In 2009 I joined NSF productions, which was a production company doing big things at that time, even though they never got that much hype outside of Quebec. I did that for a while, a highlight was when we got nominated for Best AM film at IF3 in 2010, back when IF3 was a big deal. Then I wanted to do my own thing and started Brotherhood Films, with which I produced 3 movies: Groundwork (2011), Deja Vu (2012) and Our Own Way (2013). I worked with a bunch of great skiers who ended up making it big in the ski world. Then I went on to work on more commercial projects and eventually branched off completely from skiing working in other industries for a couple of years.
You have your fingers in a lot of pies, from managing athletes to working with brands, and also being a freeski filmmaker. Why are you involved in so many different areas of the industry?
I’ve always been interested in the creative and business side of things. For example, when I was about to go to college, I hesitated between going to film school or business school. When I made movies back in the day, I’d enjoy working on everything from the production side, like filming and editing, to the business side, like sales and marketing. So to answer the question, I do it because I love it all, every aspect and component interests me. Also, I think it brings a good balance to work on different types of projects on various sides of the business. For a couple of years, I only worked in ‘’business’’ things, where there were no creative components and it was something I was missing.
Who's on your interview bucket list (1 freeskier & 1 non-skier) and why?
I’d say on the freeskiing side it would have to be Tom Wallisch or Tanner Hall. Both have been super influential to me in so many ways and have had incredible careers with ups and downs. Plus they are both still doing their thing in their 30s which is so awesome. For the non-skier, I’d have to say Josh Berman, who is the man behind Level 1 Productions. Josh has contributed to freeskiing more than anyone in my opinion, with the movies he’s produced, the people he’s helped along the way, and the events he has done and keeps doing to this day. As someone who enjoys both the creative and business component, he surely is an inspiration. I would probably have said Nick Martini also, but having done an episode with him this year I guess this one is checked off the bucket list.
Your roots are in the east side of Canada, we've seen plenty of Quebec street edits, but can you tell us a little bit more about the freeski scene over there?
The Québec scene has a lot of history that goes back to the inception of freeskiing with the 3 Phils. There has been generations after generations of skiers doing big things since then, the list includes Charles Gagnier, JF Houle, Alexi Godbout, Frank Raymond, Kaya Turski, Kim Lamarre, Alex Bellemare, Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, Paul Bergeron, Émile Bergeron and Vincent Gagnier. Then more recently a new generation of incredible skiers like Phil Langevin and Édouard Thérriault. On the skiing side, the Québec scene has stood out with the rail skills of everyone. We don’t have big mountains and until recently we never had the type of jumps to push yourself to the next level. So when you mix passionate people with mostly rails as their playgrounds, magic happens. Then outside of skiing, Québec is a unique place culturally being the only French-speaking province in North America. We have a unique history, language and culture in general, which ties us all together and makes people proud to represent when they’re on the world stage.
Freedom of expression is something that's deeply engrained in freeskiing's culture, I know you believe it to be a strong value/benefit of skiing, but who in the industry embodies this the most?
I think freeskiing has a lot of great role models who embody this. Some that come to mind are Tanner Hall and Phil Casabon. For the good and the bad, Tanner is an example of authenticity and the unapologetic culture that made freeskiing what it is today. Also, Phil Casabon has been a visionary in how he handled his career. He never followed any trend or quick gain, he had his own vision and created a path out of it.
You're a bottomless bucket of freeski knowledge, but what areas of freeskiing are you not so knowledgeable or passionate about?
I’d say I’m less knowledgeable on the early days of freeskiing. Let’s say in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I do know what needs to be known, but it’s an era when I was younger and didn’t get as much into it as I did later on in life. As to what I’m less passionate about, I’d say the whole big mountain aspect of skiing. It’s certainly an aspect of the sport that I respect a whole lot, but it’s just something that I didn’t grow up witnessing where I was from and just on a personal side, I was always more captivated by the trick side of the sport rather than the big Alaska lines.
Now that the first season of The Mayrand Podcast is coming to a close, what can we expect for season two?
I’m really excited about season 2. I want to repeat what I did for season 1. Talk to the biggest names in skiing without limitations or specific structure. Get into genuine conversations and get to know them, their story, and hopefully hear about the stuff we didn’t know about. I’m already planning it and I've got to say I'm stoked about the guests lined up.