Canyon Laker Todd Kupke is the Global Sports Marketing Manager for Giro’s snow division. Not only is he manager and friend to some of the best snowboarders and snow skiers in the world, but last month he was instrumental in setting up a world record attempt for one of his (Giro) skiers.
Although best known for its bicycle helmets and other bike-related products, Giro also offers a line of snow equipment through the Giro Snow Division. To help promote these products, Giro sponsors several world-class snowboarders and snow skiers. Todd is the person in charge of locating up-and-coming new talent and offering them various types of sponsorships in return for their promotion of Giro products.
He also makes all arrangements for these young men and women for and during competitions as well as promotional campaigns.
Todd travels the world for most of the year, often being gone for weeks at a time. He loves his job, especially the opportunity to experience so many fantastic locations and meet so many amazing, gifted people. He enjoys going to the sporting events and awards ceremonies.
He gets to hang out with some of snow sport’s elite and go to world-class competitions such as X-Games, Winter Olympics, World Cup and more. Supporting them in more than just their careers, he has become a true friend to many of them. Immediately after the accident that may have ended her career, Olympic Gold medalist Kaitlyn Farrington leaned on Todd, who was there for her and holding her hand. Todd is truly passionate about what he does.
One of the skiers Todd works with is a young Frenchman by the name of Joffrey Pollet-Villard. Joffrey, who often goes by the nickname of Joff or JPV, loves to “fly” especially high in half-pipe competitions. He is a world champion freestyle and half-pipe skier who has competed in several X-Games, World Cups as well as other major events around the world. Although he has done quite well, Joff is probably best known for the extreme air heights he achieves during his half-pipe runs.
Those involved with snow sports are familiar with a “half-pipe.” It’s a long, snow-covered, open, downhill one-half tube that competitors (snowboarders and skiers) go back and forth inside. Some may have seen it while watching the winter Olympics or X-Games. The object is to go higher on each side, hopefully getting “air” and doing outrageous stunts. Half-pipe skiing has been part of the Winter X Games since 2002, and made its Olympic debut at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Recently, Todd came up with the idea to take advantage of Joff’s talent and attempt a new world record. The world record for highest jump in a half-pipe was held by Peter Olenick, with 24 feet 11 inches (7.59 meters).
“Joffrey goes bigger in the half-pipe than anyone else in skiing, so it was a natural idea,” says Todd. He then began to organize the event.
With the last major half-pipe event having been held in Tignes, France, Todd felt that it was the “perfect place” to make the world record attempt, saying it was “a perfectly cut pipe, in his (Joff’s) home country.” He also spoke with Joff’s other sponsors, who all agreed that it was a great idea.
Todd set about making all the arrangements for everything from cameras and measuring tools to flights, lodging and eating for everyone involved. He made sure officials from Guinness were there to record the event, and he took care of all promotions. “We had a measurement tool and cameras to document every angle,” says Todd, to be sure there was no mistake.
The morning of March 19 was sunny and still. There were only about 20 observers, along with camera crews and some of Todd’s (Giro) athletes. These included Olympic gold medalist David Wise and X-Games gold medalist Simon D’Artois, as well as Olympic silver medalist Mike Riddle, X-Games silver medalist Justin Dorey and X-Games silver medalist Torin Yater-Wallace.
Says Todd, “The shoot came together, and we were excited to be in Tignes with a crew of some of the best half-pipe skiers in the world!” Todd and Joff made a small bet that Joff would break the record if Todd (Giro) would buy the celebratory beer for everyone that evening.
According to Todd, Joff did a lot of warming up prior to making about seven attempts to break the record. Half-pipe skiing is considered to be extremely dangerous. Helmets are required, and there are even airbags on the sides of pipes during practice runs. In fact, four-time X-Games gold medalist Sarah Burke died after a training accident in 2012.
Todd says, “It was a scary day watching him risk his life, but that’s what these guys do every day. They are professionals.” He tells of a giant red rocket standing next to the half-pipe, used as kind of a “sight line” for a visual of how high Joff was in the air since they would not know the actual measurements until later. It also proved to be a great asset in the photos and videos.
After analyzing the photos and video footage, it was shown that Joff had indeed set a brand new world record with an official height of 26 feet, 3 inches (8.04 meters)! Todd would be getting the bar bill that night!
When he’s not working, Todd enjoys wakeboarding, golfing, snowboarding, traveling, trying new foods, and spending time with his family, especially his fiancé Kristin and their pug Remington.
For more photos and a video of world record run, do an internet search “Joffrey Pollet-Villard breaks world record.”