Go to school or go snowboarding?
It’s a dilemma that has challenged aspiring pro riders for decades. The focus and talents required to send it in the classroom vs. send it on slope are not easily matched. Especially when the heart of winter lines up perfectly with the heart of the school semester. There’s just not enough time in a short February day to study hard and shred hard.
While there’s no right answer for everyone, we’re honored to introduce a new Jones ambassador that has pulled off the near impossible, balancing serious academic brains with next-level snowboarding brawn. Please welcome Swiss ripper Mat Schaer to the Jones family!
In the last seven years, Mat filmed six video parts with Absinthe Films, meanwhile earning a Bachelor’s degree AND a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from one of the most prestigious universities in Switzerland. Yes, you read that right. Mat has double cork 10s and a master’s degree on lock! Strong possibility he’s the only snowboarder in the world with such a resume.
Mat grew up in Geneva and his home resort is Champery. His first Absinthe part appeared in their 2011 film, "Twelve". Fast forward five years and his most recent Absinthe part appeared in their 2016 release "AfterForever". Every part he’s made showcases his clean style and beastly talent for taking flight off wedges and natural features. Mat’s AfterForever part earned him a spot on Transworld’s top ten full parts of the year list. He took 2017 off from filming to finish his Master’s degree, but he’s been back in front of the lens this winter. Rumor has it that he already nailed down his next Absinthe part in only two weeks of filming around his home resort!
Mat on set with Absinthe in 2015. Photo - Andrew Miller.
Beyond shred skills, what drew us to start working with Mat was his quest to make his riding a positive influence on the planet. Here Mat explains his perspective on how his studies have shaped that goal:
"My studies helped me to understand the science related to environmental issues we are facing such as climate change, water pollution and loss of biodiversity. I also gained the technical tools to work on real solutions to these issues," said Mat. "Through my snowboarding and future projects, I want to raise public awareness about these issues and encourage ways to enjoy snowboarding at its fullest, while reducing related ecological impacts. As snowboarders, we take pleasure from nature’s beauty so it’s crucial to give back and preserve it as much as possible."
Monkeying around his home resort. Photo - Julien Rosens
Mat’s ethos lines up perfectly with that of Jones’ founder Jeremy Jones. Jeremy recently rode with Mat in Champery and returned with only the highest praise.
"Honored to have Mat join our family," said Jeremy. "Mat has taken a unique path in life combining getting his master’s degree in environmental sciences with filming video parts for Absinthe. Achieving one of these accomplishments in life is incredibly hard. Achieving both at the same time is unprecedented. Both as a rider and a scientist Mat is a perfect fit for Jones."
Mat has an uncanny eye for natural hits. Photo - Julien Rosens
We’re incredibly excited to see where Mat goes from here with his riding and his environmental activism. On top of working with Absinthe, he’s got a personal film project in the works focused on the potential of low-impact snowboarding in the Western Alps.
What might you expect from Mat’s future film parts? It might look something like this. Here’s Mat’s description of his "Dream Line"...
"A mellow face that’s not too exposed, but has a few nice natural hits off which you can fly. Drop in, backside turn, frontside turn, natural fs3, huge bs3, after bang, point it straight to the bottom!"
Mat in his element. Photo - Andrew Miller.