A XNUMX-year-old son participates in a free riding contest with backcountry equipment on his back.Ueda Yukie family's "JFO Japan Freeride Open" experience.

Honestly, when I was asked, "Why don't you try tigers?", I felt that it was too early for my XNUMX-year-old son to carry backcountry equipment on his back and slide in the mountains.
However, he decided to participate in the class under XNUMX years old because he was just enough to qualify and it might be a good opportunity for him who has skied free riding in the snow and terrain of Japan this season.
Text: Yukie Ueda
Special Thanks: Japan Freeride Open

With coach Naoki Ito, the youngest junior class

Freeride tournament that can be entered from XNUMX years old

Kaichi Ueki, the main organizer of the tournament, had heard about it a few years ago when he was planning this tournament.

"If there is such a tournament in Japan, it will be a good environment for the younger generation and children."

I was trying to give shape to my passion, saying that I wanted to convey to the Japanese people what I had experienced overseas through freeride competitions.The tournament created by the hands of the slippers was later realized in the form of "Japan Freeride Open, commonly known as JFO", and became one of the triggers for freeride to attract attention in Japan.
I felt somehow connected to the chance that my son would participate in the JFO, so I secured the remaining one and headed for Hakuba with my son's first backcountry gear.

I didn't think the day when I would slip with BC equipment on my back would come so soon, but the appearance was dignified.

The real thrill of the event

It wasn't just the domestic freeride competition that made me interested in this event. Junior class children under the age of XNUMX will be accompanied by a professional rider coach who will attend the tournament and practice beacon search and freeride lessons throughout the day.

We gathered at the coach with the number tag, and everyone met for the first time.

I met coach Naoki Ito at the meeting place in the morning.The tiger was a little nervous when both his teammates and coach met for the first time, but Daisuke Watanabe, who is also a coach, made me feel better.The coaches of active professional riders climbed the mountain with a lift while raising the tension of the children.The excited and tense children smiled as they gradually talked to their teammates.
The scene suddenly reminded me of the American environment I had spent so far.Children move under the leadership of the coach.It's a completely different atmosphere than parents attending their children.

Daisuke Watanabe, an acquaintance, relaxed me

With a coach, parents are free to slide and watch the game.The event was full of acquaintances from the industry, and it was as exciting as an alumni association, but these two were the ones who really impressed me.
Maiden name, Tomoko Shimonaka, Tomoko Yamakoshi.The two who were professional riders were also comrades who fought during the same era.We have reunited as "mothers of athletes" here.
When I look around, I notice that there are overwhelmingly many people who don't fit in the snowboarding world.That's why I feel relieved to meet friends of the same generation in the snowy mountains.Moreover, these two had the same ambition to leave their son to the team and head to the mountains to look forward to the powder (laughs).
It goes without saying that this reunion reassured me.

We met in the snowy mountains were completely timeless.I was on the same ring more than XNUMX years ago

Severe conditions

On the day of the tournament, the slopes were covered in pure white with the snow that had fallen at midnight, and the blue sky appeared.
It seemed to be in the best condition, but the temperature rose more than expected from the morning and the slopes of the tournament received strong sunlight, and the snow quality changed as soon as I saw it.Meanwhile, the children inspected with the coach.

Inspect coaches for each team
A coach who is accustomed to sliding in the mountains taught children the points to note in an easy-to-understand manner.

The team including the tiger is the youngest among the juniors.The small body and short board were caught in the stop snow and could not slide down well.
However, this is also a tournament.The conditions of the day are the same for everyone.Snowboarding, which fights in nature, is also interesting as to how to use your strength.
Mountains and slopes that have never slipped.It must have been because he was among his teammates that he was imposing without showing the spoiled appearance.It's a man who doesn't want to show cool things in front of his friends.

I'm sure I was worried, but I didn't show any soft noise to my mother.
Children who use their imagination to see the terrain in the changing snow quality

In the video from the start, I was nervous but did not hesitate and jumped into the steep slope.

At the starting point, he seemed to be nervous with few words.
Good luck, drop in!The cheers of the coaches follow

I was looking at my son, who looked like a bean grain sliding down, from the goal point.I fell down many times.But I also decided on a tweak that I'm good at.I think it was his best run.
In the same condition, there were some children who came down while maintaining a sense of speed, and there were many good children.I was surprised that there are so many Japanese children working hard toward the world of freeride.At the goal point, some children were frustrated and cried, but there were also junior players who were flirting with each other as if they had forgotten.

Friends under the age of XNUMX who had a snowball fight at the goal point.Tomoko Shimonaka's son Neo (left) was in third place.

With each feeling in mind, I changed my mind in the afternoon and started a session with the coach.
It seemed to be an exciting and fun session that overwhelmed the tension of the tournament.

After the tense tournament, a freeride session with the coach!Teammates are already good friends
Sliding with Japanese friends in the snowy mountains of Japan, this scene must have burned into his heart.
Hakuba scenery, snow, friends.Everything was Japanese
Mothers who were slipping secretly

The teammates were XNUMX-year-old tigers and XNUMX-year-old and XNUMX-year-old boys, all of whom were good at free riding and were happily flying around in the trees.
There were children who kept slipping until the sun was hidden in the mountains.There was a coach who skated with the children as time allowed.

The snow in the tree was good until the end of the day
Everyone is good at powder and tree run!
"Let's fly over there!" Small but fine freestylers

Although it was a team limited to this day, it seems that it was a wonderful day with a relationship of trust with the coach and a sense of fellowship.

High Five with a coach
The team was one at the end of the session

No one from this youngest team was on the podium, but it would have been a great experience for the little ones.I'm sure this time too.It was a back view that seemed to hear such thoughts.

Seniors under the age of XNUMX on the podium in difficult conditions

Worth skiing with coaches and peers 

At the end of the event, the tiger suddenly came up with the idea on his way home.
"I want to go back to America. I want to go home right now."
He was happy and happy every day since he came to Japan, and he said he wanted to extend his stay and stay in Japan more.
"If you're in Mammoth, you can skate and snowboard more with your friends. That's fun."
Indeed, slipping on the team this time stimulated his memory.I remembered the fun of sliding with my friends and coaches.
I also noticed that I had been slipping with my parents more often since I came to Japan.
While driving the car, I felt like I got a new hint.

This experience made him aware of something important.

The mammoth snowboard team we belonged to has help from countries and states to raise children and supports the operation of the team.Local kids will have lower team costs and coaches will have a stable job.

There is no such environment in Japan today, but this event was definitely worth it.On this day when I skated with my coach and friends for just one day, everyone's skills and motivation improved.

Unlike parents, coaches have the power to give to children

JFO's efforts may be one of the triggers to change the environment in Japan in the future.With a wish, I think so.

Professional photographers who usually hold cameras at the forefront of Japan followed the children's slips.
The moment before the start, the bond with the coach who was by my side



Yukie Ueda
XNUMX years of experience as a professional snowboarder.As a half-pipe and big air player, he fought in professional games and the World Cup, and after enlivening the Japanese girls scene such as movie production and launching a snowboard brand, he moved to California, USA on the occasion of his marriage.He moved to Mammoth Mountain and has continued snowboarding activities in Japan and the United States, but this time the whole family will move to Japan for one year.

ORION Toranosuke
Born April XNUMX, XNUMX, XNUMX years old.A third-generation Japanese-American bilingual born in California.I love snowboarding and skateboarding. USASA National Snowboard Championship XNUMX XNUMX Under category overall XNUMXrd place.