Josh Chauvet has done this job before. In fact, he ran Mammoth’s Unbound parks from 1997-2002. But for the past 8 years Chauvet has been perfecting his brand of park management around the globe, including stints at the Transworld Super Park, Winter X Games and the U.S. Open to name a few.
With the departure of Oren Tanzer, Chauvet returns to Unbound, but this time with a whole new bag of tricks. And based upon the following conversation, I think it’s safe to say the Unbound staff is going to be pretty busy this season.
Sheet: Chauvet … is that French Canadian?
Chauvet: No, that’s just French. There’s actually a Mt. Chauvet in the Alps somewhere. If you look in a phone book in France for Chauvet, it’s a joke.
Sheet: What, it’s like the equivalent of Smith?
Chauvet: No, not that bad, but it’s pretty ridiculous.
Sheet: So what exactly is your job? Because Oren Tanzer’s was a little ambiguous.
Chauvet: Ha. It’s a different job. I’m the Action Sports Brand Manager. Basically, I oversee all things [related to] action sports at Mammoth. To complicate it, Mammoth calls it the “free-spirited independent” category. That’s kind of the age group they categorize which, for all intents and purposes, is 35 and under. It’s a little bit loose.
Sheet: So what’s your day to day?
Chauvet: I oversee action sports as a whole, that’s Unbound, marketing and advertising and even to some extent mountain bike park. That also includes long term things like the experience people have when they’re visiting Mammoth. That means how we interact with them down in LA or San Francisco. It’s not just the on-hill experience. Say you have a great time on the hill, the park is perfect but what do you do afterwards? Where are you going to go? That’s part of my job, to determine what makes sense and where the young people go when they come to Mammoth.
Chauvet: Potentially. We haven’t really determined that yet. Is Hyde the right place for a core action sports person?
Sheet: What on-hill competitions can we expect this year?
Chauvet: The Grand Prix is coming back, that was a two year deal. Plus we’ll have the West Coast Invitational which is actually the last event that I introduced the year I was leaving. Of course we’re doing the PBR rail jam, Burton Super Demo Tour and Am series and the Roxy Chicken Jam. But really I need to evaluate what we’re doing this year to help determine what makes sense moving forward. In terms of competitions, I didn’t have that involvement this year. Also we want to innovate the things we already do and no longer do the standard cookie-cutter things with events that have been done in the past.
Sheet: You worked for Mammoth from 1997-2002 and pretty much did this same job at Mountain High last year, so why come back to Mammoth?
Chauvet: When I came here initially, there was a park here at Mammoth but there was no structure to it. There wasn’t anybody really leading the charge, it was a bit disorganized. I put some of the structure into it that you see today like the park crew, the cat crew and the marketing. It’s grown over the years but the basis is really the same. I did a similar job at Mountain High, introducing the operations and photo shoots things like that. But I came back because Mark Clausen and Rusty Gregory are truly committed to the action sports program.
Sheet: Come on, don’t give us that corporate response crap.
Chauvet: That’s it! Honestly…straight up. It really has to do with their commitment to expand the program. It will no longer be the Unbound parks that you’ve known over the past 8 years. There’s only been two parks introduced since I’ve been gone, Forrest Trail and the Canyon Park. Other than conceptually and design-wise not a lot has changed, and now we are committed to designing new parks.
Sheet: Speaking of that, you claim there will be “industry changing improvements” on your watch here at Mammoth. What does that mean, exactly?
Chauvet: We have two airbags coming and we are creating a whole new “development” program around them. We actually are working on what we’re going to call it.
Sheet: So you’re buying the Katal airbags from last spring?
Chauvet: No we’re not buying the Katal airbags. We’re buying the other company – Acrobags. You can’t ride away from these, they are more like stunt bags but you can set them up in a variety of ways. The plan is to set up one for pipe and one for park.
Sheet: In the pipe?
Chauvet: Well, it’s not actually going to be in the pipe. We’re going to build a two-sided spine where you can hit from the right or left with roll-ins.
Essentially there will be a bunch of rollers that lead into jumps that are going to get bigger and bigger as you progress down the run and then end at the bag. Then we’ll have sort of the same thing with rails and boxes that allow people to get the feel of jumping on without the consequences. That means soft rails, rails that don’t have metal and that you can’t crush yourself on, and these jibs will all get progressively bigger.
Sheet: Will there be access for the snowboard and freeride teams?
Chauvet: Definitely. We’re also going to introduce three new parks that will be in addition to the parks that already exist. Two substantial parks and the other is what were going to call a “park zone.”
Sheet: What do you mean by substantial?
Chauvet: Legit parks that people will be stoked on … in prime locations.
Sheet: And where will these be?
Chauvet: I can’t tell you.
Sheet: Okay, well is there any way we could just copy June’s park and set it up over here?
Chauvet: I don’t want to lead you down the wrong path. But things are going to change, parks will morph throughout the season. So yeah, at some point there will be a park that’s like [June’s].
Sheet: Okay, that’s fair. Last year there were a lot of complaints about the layout of Main Park. Any plans to mix that up?
Chauvet: Yes. There will be a design team for Main that is in-house. Every park is getting reevaluated. There will also be a lot more online interaction via Facebook and Twitter. That means weekly videos throughout the season that show what’s going on with the parks. One video series will be action-oriented and the other more new-centered. People that are out of market can finally see what’s going on on a regular basis with Unbound.
Sheet: Last year, Unbound unleashed an arsenal of rainbow rails and the aircraft carrier box, besides the soft rails and the airbags are there any new jibs for this season?
Chauvet: Hmm, I can tell you about urban stuff for opening weekend. Basically we’re taking things that people see in videos, but don‘t have the means to ride, and re-creating them in the park. We are currently building two urban style full stair sets with fake grass, planters, rails and boxes with bricks on the sides … the whole deal. Those two urban features will be the first that show Mammoth is committed to moving forward.
Sheet: And where are those new parks going to be again?
Chauvet: I can’t tell you.