Method Mag caught up with Industry Boss Alex Maillet from DC. This Frenchie is one dedicated mofo. He has been involved and mentored by some of the most influential people in the boardsports industry. Alex has worked his way up the chain of command and into the top dog position at DC. He loves snowboarding and getting drunk! We find out what it entails to be at the helm of a premier brand in snowboarding.
Hi Alex, what’s up and can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Alex Maillet, I am in charge of the snowboard and action sports categories at DC Europe. All in all, it entails five sports, with snowboarding being the main focus. I live in Landes, in the south west of France, near Hossegor, and I’m pretty much an alcoholic. I’m now 33 years old, getting old, and have been working in the boardsport industry since I was 20.
So how did you start working in the shred business?
I started working at Les Nuits de La Glisse when I was 20. It’s a production company that made old-school ski and snowboard movies, mixed in with other action sports. They weren’t so popular back then so it was fun to be part of the first people to do that stuff in France. Looking back, it’s even funnier when you compare the quality, effects and tricks to what we are used to seeing today. Then I worked for different magazines for about 2 years: Surf Session/Ride On and Brotherhood with Bruno Debauché (R.I.P) who put me in charge of making the first skate buyer's guide in France. Thanks to him for getting me involved and connecting me to the world I work in today. That got me into DC in 2004, where I started working as a sales rep for 2 years in the south west of France. One thing led to another and I became the Marketing Co-ordinator for France and also took care of Trade Marketing for DC in Europe. And from there I eventually moved into my current position.
What does a day in the life of Alex Maillet look like?
It’s pretty hard to answer in just a few words, I have dozens of requests coming from all fronts, all day. I come to work in the morning and do my best to optimize the day, but I actually end up playing table foosball and watching movies in the DC lounge with my collegues and our EU riders all day. Haha! No, seriously, my girlfriend gets so pissed that I leave at 7:30 in the morning and never get home before 8 pm… at the earliest. I guess that’s what you get for doing something you love. It’s an advantage and disadvantage at the same time.
Do you still go out riding as much as you used to and what would a riding day look like?
Obviously not. Unfortunately the job takes up most of my time and I do not get as much riding time as I wish I could. When I hit the slopes, it’s usually tied to an event so if I am lucky, I get an hour or two of riding in but that isn’t always the case. I have quite a few friends who don't work in the snowboard industry that get 10 times as many days as I do on the slopes. That’s just the way it is. I still enjoy the days I get and go every time I can. On top of that, I’m getting old, my back hurts, and it snaps every time I land a trick (when I land).
Who do you ride with and where would you go if you could pick your dream destination?
I ride with my friends and colleagues in the French Pyrenees or Alps most of the time. My dream destination would be a heli trip somewhere in Alaska or Whistler. You just don’t get that kind of pow around here.
Can you tell us a bit about the Area 43 project that DC has going on?
We started Area 43 two years ago. It’s called Area 43 because of the the 4th and 3rd letters of the Alphabet: DC. Clever, right? It’s a constanly-evolving playground in the mountain that started around a container packed with rails, with a fully dedicated team at the park that was able to build features on-demand all season long. Our new set up, in Meribel-Mottaret, still has the original container, but is now a park that features over 220m of boxes and rails, 4 zones for different riding levels from pros to beginners, which all share our ‘Enjoy the Ride’ motto. The park run will be over 1,200m long, will have a halfpipe and a superpipe, 24 snow blowers that generate over 50,000m3 of snow (so no worries if snow doesn’t fall, there will always be snow at Area 43) for the 10 full-time shapers to build unlimited runs, 3 snow cats, 2 snowmobiles and one beautiful chalet. Oh, I forgot our new DC Live Park system, which allows kids and riders to capture, edit, and share their runs online, almost instantly. So, when are you guys coming to visit us?
What’s the difference between DC’s project and other brands' snowpark projects?
Area 43 is a unique project, as you can tell from the description above. We also support other snowparks around Europe in a more traditional way, but not to the level of our Area 43 involvement. We sponsore parks in Austria, France, Spain, Norway and Switzerland. Soon we’ll be everywhere. HA! Well, at least in all the best places.
Are they all loosely based on the MTN Lab, what is the idea behind Area 43?
DC got noticed in the snow industry because of the MTN Lab (at Ken Block's house in Utah), which was the ultimate playground for snowboarders. Who wouldn’t dream of living in a chalet with a snowpark in his or her back yard? Unfortunately, it was a private park. We wanted to recreate a place where all snowboarders dream of being able to ride, and would actually be able to go and ride there. That’s what Area 43 is all about. We are making the MTN Lab dream accessible to all riders.
Are any of the DC team riders attached to the project?
Indirectly, yes. Our local heroes and local pros have always been tied back to the project. We wanted to make the perfect park for them, while keeping in mind the needs of all riders. We took the concept futher when we did Shred Days, where we brought out all of our global DC snowboarders. They were so stoked to spend some time together and ride just for the fun, without having to worry about filming or preparing for a contest. In addition to this, none of them had ever jumped over a mini skate ramp with skaters shredding it. All the riders made their own edits of the event, Lauri, Torstein, Iikka and Devun were all there. It was good to see how involved they were.
Are there also plans for an Area 43 promo tour to mountainless countries with indoor snow domes?
Nothing planned yet, but we do have some projects with different snow domes, and we’ll keep you updated after this busy winter.
What’s your opinion on the world of snowboarding nowadays?
Snowboarding has really changed. There are more and more skiers and less and less snowboarders out there. It was an issue because snowboard brands were not directly in touch with snowboarders anymore. Our mission as a brand is to get the kids involved with the sport and get them back out on the mountain. Basically, put snowboarding back into their heads before even thinking of attracting them to a brand. Most people who get involved in snowboarding do it for the love of it. There’s a certain vibe you get, whether it’s chilling with friends, cruising the slopes, challenging each other, going to parties or just generally having a good time. That’s the message I’d like to see go out to the general public a little more and that’s something we are working on.
Do you think things have changed in a positive way?
Generally, yes. Nowadays you can’t be good just at jibbing, in a half pipe, or in the park. You need to be well-rounded to make it, because all the best riders are. That’s definitely a positive point, if you ask me. All the guys you see kill it on all terrains. Another cool thing is the era we live in, digitally speaking. We are living in the future, if you think about it. All the riders make their own edits, share their videos and pictures on the internet. It’s so cool because it virtually takes us to the spot, teaches us new tricks, and so on. Another cool thing is the real-time factor. Edits are up almost the same day the trick was done. It’s cool for the kids as they can share their favorite rider's experiences as they happen. That’s exactly what we are trying to achieve with the DC Live Park system.
What’s the most memorable party you’ve attended which was work-related and why?
Good question! There have been so many! A recent one comes to mind, a few months back our sales meetings in Kaprun, Austria had a few pretty crazy parties. After spending a day riding with our Euro team, we all ended up in Kaprun’s castle for the closing horror party. It was out of control. Some people lost their minds, their fingers, their girlfriends... Mat Schaer and Jani Sorasalmi, two of our EU riders, were there and got pretty wasted, pretty much like everyone present. You don’t always get to see them in that state. Good times. ISPO parties are also always amazing. Somehow, that’s where I met my girlfriend 2 years ago. Can’t remember the exact circumstances though… Ha!
What’s your Method?
I like to grab method on my switch triple cork 1440's. No big deal.
Any last words?
Thanks Method for the interview. Hope you’ll join us this winter on the slopes. Thanks to the DC team, it’s such a good place to work at, and thanks to Jon, Jesus, my mother, my boss, and my dog for making this interview possible… Oh, and I was forgetting GOD.
By Edgar Lanting