“We Are The Future.” ~Children connecting Japan and America~ Chapter 1 From Japan. Reasons why Japanese athletes have become stronger and the training environment for children

Children working hard at off-training facilities in Japan. (From the left, Tora, Roy, Riki, and Juri) Children aged 8-13 who will lead the next generation.Likely to come on a mammoth expedition in the future

Japanese athletes on the podium at the World Cup and Olympics

Since when did the Japanese start to leave their presence and mark on the world stage?In recent years, it has become common for young Japanese athletes to stand in the middle of the podium at world competitions.

In the 1990s, when I was on the Japanese national team as a player, it was very difficult for a Japanese player to reach the top of the world.There was such a difference in ability between Japanese and Westerners, and I felt at the time that if I could make it to the finals of a tournament where the world's top players competed, it would be a great achievement.

According to the rules set by FIS (International Ski Federation), in freestyle snowboarding, you cannot register as a competitor unless you have reached your 12th birthday by the end of December of the season.Furthermore, the World Cup and the Olympics cannot be played unless the player has reached the age of 13.Inevitably, it will be after 15 years old at the earliest that it will be featured worldwide.

This time, I focused on the younger generation, snowboarders aged 8 to 13. Nowadays, it is easy to send information to the world through SNS, but as mentioned above, this generation of snowboarders has not yet been on the official stage, so they are somewhere in the underground and are like local heroes. has a strong presence.It is interesting because it is full of possibilities of how it will blossom and what kind of snowboarder you will become.

While looking at the characteristics of the snowboarding environment in Japan and the United States, I would like to explore the differences and commonalities in the environments surrounding snowboarders of that generation, as well as the aspects that both sides should learn.

Photo & Text: Yukie Ueda


Air bag jump in the back of a Japanese field (Photo: Sergeant Takeda)
How does the Japanese practice method lead to improvement?

Our family stayed in Japan during the snowboarding off-season in North America.The purpose is elementary school and off-training for my 11-year-old son.

From the United States, where the coronavirus began to spread around the world and resorts and schools were immediately locked down, I brought my 9-year-old son, who speaks half-Japanese, and my husband, who was living in Japan for the first time in his mid-40s, to Japan. I came here two years ago.She gained countless things during that year of immigration, but the most valuable thing was her school education and off-snowboard training.

We have been accepting young Japanese skaters and snowboarders in LA and Mammoth Mountain (California) so far, and the Americans around us often ask, ``Why are the basic levels of the Japanese so high?'' I was asked.When I actually took a peek at the environment in Japan, there was something that convinced me, "I see."Because it is a small island country, it is easy to commute, and in addition, the Japanese spirit of repetitive practice and constant effort has brought about great results.Of course, I think it's an essential element without the efforts of parents.

At first, I thought, ``Japanese people are boring because they only practice.It's more FUN in America,' my son complained.He just said, 'If you enter the country, do as the country does.' ’ I threw it.My son reluctantly started practicing by imitating the Japanese children around him, and his progress was visibly improved.He seems to have felt the most that there are things you can't get just by enjoying yourself.

What can you get from Japanese-style off-training?

If the coronavirus had not spread all over the world, our move to Japan would not have happened.I was so happy with my life that it never occurred to me.However, after moving to Japan, the answer we found in unison as a family was "a hybrid life between Japan and the United States."When this happens, why don't we learn the Japanese style thoroughly?

For off-training, which was one of the purposes of my stay in Japan, I decided to use the airbag jump facility “Obuse Quest” and the indoor half-pipe facility “Kamui Misaka”.Both decided to train intensively with a Japanese coach. During my four-month stay, I went to Obuse Quest, which took just over an hour by car, while commuting to elementary school in Hakuba.

On weekdays, I carry my school bag on my back and go on a quest after school.Let's do it the Japanese way!

Indoor Half Pipe Facility Kamui Misaka

When I brought my son to Misaka for the first time a few years ago, I was surprised to see that most of the kids had coaches.No one skated with a coach when I was there, and most of the halfpipe skaters were adults.

Misaka's indoor half pipe is attracting worldwide attention.A quarter of a century has passed since I went there, and I never thought my son would go there.

I asked Mr. Kekke, KK Academy's coach Sakai, to receive coaching four days a week.The impetus was that Gaon Choi (a 4-year-old girl of Korean nationality who is currently at the top of the world and is like the second Chloe Kim in the Mammoth snowboard team) was coached by Kekke-san in Japan before. that became a hot topic.While consulting with American parents who wanted to ask him for coaching, I was impressed with his response and decided to ask him to take care of my child.

Coach Sakai, who became a hot topic in the United States for coaching Gaon Choi.Fun and popular with children!It was a kind and polite coach
A coach who communicates well with the children before and after the lesson.Parents are also informed of the technical analysis along with the video taken that day

Kamui Misaka in summer was full of children.Many of them are exactly the next generation of 8 to 13 years old.Japanese children narrow down to one sport earlier than American children.In particular, I feel a big difference in this generation that I will focus on this time.In the United States, all-rounders learn snowboarding techniques, and the competition is narrowed down when they approach the age of 13, but in Japan, the competition is decided at an earlier stage and they are made to practice.In the future, which one is correct or a shortcut?Exploring that is also an interesting part of this project.

Koichi Ito, 7 years old.He made his off-training debut this summer and just started going to Quest with Misaka.A first-year elementary school student who longs for the coolness of jumping and the street.
Riki Takeda, 8 years old.He enjoys snowboarding all-around, not only on halfpipe and slopestyle, but also on powder and terrain.The manager of the pro shop Coco Palm in Suwa, who is a child, takes good care of the boards.
Uno Furuyama is 10 years old.He mainly plays halfpipe.A talented player who finished second in the JSBA Youth All Japan last season.Both slip and personality are male

Hiace vans driven by strong mothers line up in the parking lot.Children from all over the country come to Yamanashi Prefecture to practice snowboarding.Many of them are staying for their children while staying in the car or cooking in the car, so I am also surprised by the effort and enthusiasm of Japanese parents.In the morning, you can see them walking with a toothbrush in one hand, and during break time, the smell of rice wafts from each car.Laundry flutters on the well-placed clothesline in the car.Since it's summer, the clothes will dry well.

After practice time, there were children playing ball in the parking lot and running around energetically.It's a stoic image to say that summer vacation is not about traveling and playing but practicing snowboarding, but I think this style of working hard with parents and children is quite fulfilling rather than spending time playing games.

Hiace vans for overnight stays lined up in the parking lot.Most of them are mothers, Japanese mothers are strong
Our family brings a packed lunch every day, and during break time, we have lunch with our friends.
Beach sandals on the outside, down jackets and snow boots on the inside.Summer parent style that goes back and forth between the hot summer sun and the huge indoor freezer

Kaiho Hirano and Raimu Katayama, who children admire, players who are currently active in the national team, Yutaro Miyazawa and Ikumi Imai, who are active in the world of movies, came to skate.Ben Ferguson and Danny Davis from overseas also came to Japan to shoot in this indoor halfpipe.The adult snowboarders performing stylish tricks in the shape of a half-pipe provided a new stimulus to the children who practiced for the competition day in and day out.

I post information about Japan on SNS, but I feel that Kamui Misaka receives the greatest response from overseas.Now, this Japanese indoor half pipe is attracting attention from all over the world.

They are superstars in the world, but they are funny and kind brothers.Kaiho Hirano (left), Raimu Katayama (right)
Only a few years ago he came to Mammoth as a single, but now he is a father of two!Ikumi Imai, gorigori style is healthy
Yutaro Miyazawa (right), who is active in the movie world from a slopestyle player, also enjoyed skating on Misaka's halfpipe.

The wall height is smaller than the World Cup standard half pipe.However, the halfpipe, which is arranged in a stable indoor environment, can be practiced repeatedly under the same conditions.

"It may be boring," said Coach Kekke, who made him learn from the basics.I think it's typical of Japanese people to value the basics so much when it comes to halfpipes.I was a little worried whether my American son would be able to handle this steady Japanese practice method, but my son who followed Sato silently followed his teachings.As a result, both the 360 ​​and CAB360 that I have been doing so far have changed in terms of height and stability.
And I learned how to turn 1, 540 in a short period of one month.It was a different quality than what I had made on the mammoth halfpipe with glue during the season.He thought he was teaching me how to turn around to reduce the risk of injury and lead to the next trick.

As a result of repeating basic practice steadily, height and stability increased

"I definitely want to come back to Misaka again next summer!" When summer vacation ended, my son said he didn't want to leave here.When asked why, he said it was because Misaka, where you can play in real snow, was interesting.He says that a half-pipe that hits a wall of real snow feels more like snowboarding than an airbag jump that just slides over the brush and flies one shot.After practice, my son slashed the wall from top to bottom and landed a hand plant.I will definitely come back here next summer.Looking forward to reunion with friends of the same generation.

During the summer vacation, I put on my clothes and practice snowboarding in Misaka, where the temperature is over 30 degrees Celsius.There is definitely a good time with friends there.riki and tiger
Land a hand plant on the last hit
One generation above athletes who came to Mammoth Mountain during the season.They are close to us and give our children goals.From left to right: Hiroshi Minamino, Koyata Kikuchihara, (Tora), Tosei Hatta, and Kosuke Ohashi

Kamui Misaka indoor half pipe http://misaka.kamuisp.com/summer/

Airbag Jump Facility Obuse Quest

Now airbag jump facilities exist all over the country.That is, there are many environments where you can commute not only on weekends but also on weekdays after school.During my previous stay in Japan, I used to commute four to five days a week from Fukushima Prefecture, where I was based, to Tohoku Quest in Miyagi Prefecture, taking nearly two hours each way.Four hours round trip may surprise you, but it's nothing to worry about once you get used to it.The person himself was sleeping and doing homework in the car on the way to and from.This time it's just a little over an hour one way in the same Nagano prefecture.From the conversations between parents who go to off-training facilities, this seems to be in the range of "close".

China's Xiaomi wins gold at Beijing Olympics(Su YimingQuest Academy hosted by Yasuhiro Sato (Yasu), who suddenly became world-famous for teaching .At Obuse Quest this time, I will be practicing under Yutaka Tazawa (Gori), who taught me the teaching method.

Yasu-kun (left), who became famous around the world as a famous coach, and Gori (right), who was taught coaching.Former first children friends

Both Yasu and Gori are old snowboarding buddies.Gori was a young rider at the time when we were shooting overseas together, and I remember him jumping vigorously without thinking about anything, but his current coaching is well received.Under Gori's laughter and gentle guidance, his son steadily improved his fundamentals.The change was obvious when I looked at the way I turned, the length of the grab, and the stability.Coaching, which I had intended to receive two days a week, increased to four days a week in the second half.because his son requested it himself.After receiving coaching, he put in self-practice for review, and when it was over, he said, ``I did what I could, so I want to receive coaching next time.He said that it would be a waste of time to do it by himself.I think he thought so because he knew that his time in Japan was limited.

It seems that the more I hone my skills with Quest, the more excited my son is about returning to America and skiing on the snowy mountains.

Careful and easy-to-understand Gori coaching
A truck driver like never before.In order to teach how to use the body and how to put it in, I used various gloves to teach posture
Has a jib section.I'm trying, I'm a parent who wants to take pictures of my child

Many facilities are open until around 10:XNUMX p.m., so you can practice after school in the nighttime lighting.Our dinner, like many of the children who attend our school, is a "bento" that we make at home.During the breaks between sessions, the students use the microwave ovens and kettles provided in the facility to heat and eat their own food.It's pretty fun because we all eat together.My son came home from school on weekdays and brought in his school bag, and he began to finish his homework with a quest.If I don't do it here, I don't have time to do it.There are also senior students, so you can ask them anything you don't understand.There are juniors and seniors, but they are all snowboarders with the same aspirations.It was also a place of learning outside of school.

Bring a school bag and finish school homework during break time
You can practice until 10:XNUMX p.m. under night lighting (Photo: Sergeant Takeda)
Snowboarding friends of various ages, from kindergarten to junior high school students

Usually, it is said that ``a spinning technique made with an airbag that is less than half a rotation can be rotated on a snowy mountain''.In short, I often feel that snowy mountains are more difficult, but my son seems to be a little different.My son who went to Tohoku Quest last year was at a level where he could turn a regular 1 in the snowy mountains, but he was able to turn up to BS360 with an airbag.And when he returned to the United States, he made a 720 in all directions on the snow. “What can be done with airbags can always be done on snowy mountains, and more can be done.It's easier in the snow,' the son asserted.I think there is a difference between being used to snow and being used to brushes, but in my son's case it's the former.Which one feels easier will probably come from the difference in the snowboarding environment of Japanese and American children, which I will tell you about later.

My son enjoyed growing up while working hard with Japanese children of the same generation.

Uno, a masculine 10-year-old girl.Halfpipe athletes also practice spinning techniques on quests (Photo: Sergeant Takeda)
Riki, a second grader, jumps in style towards the setting sun.After school until the sun went down, he practiced day and night (Photo: Sergeant Takeda)
Taishi, a 13-year-old with a style that his son admired and admired when he came to Japan (Photo: Sergeant Takeda)

Obuse Quest https://www.obusequest.com

Results of Japanese off-training

Last year, my son, who practiced snowboarding in Japan during the off-season in the United States, was enthusiastic, saying, "Everyone will be surprised when I return to Mammoth with this, I will beat them (friends)!" .However, during the winter we spent in Japan, the “those guys” who were skating down the snowy mammoth mountains had grown stronger and their skating was definitely stepping up.It's not just the free run that he improved by sliding down the mountain, but it's the same with his son's jumping rotation technique that he practiced steadily in Japan.

"Why are they getting so good even though they don't use airbags?" Is it a sense or a difference in athletic ability?This is exactly the difference from the world that I have felt.And they were also shocked by their son who had returned from Japan. "Hey, TORA has improved in Japan and is back."

My son was surprised by the unexpected growth of his friends, but he desperately followed them.If his son hadn't had the off-training in Japan, he would likely have been pulled away from them.It can be said that the off-training results in Japan have raised my son's level to the point where he can keep up with them.

The day when the corona subsides and Japanese people come to America again is near.Athletes from overseas will also visit Japan to practice at off-training facilities.With the yen depreciating, facility usage fees and coaching fees are extremely cheap for foreigners.It is unclear to what extent they will be able to understand the Japanese coach's explanation, but it will be interesting to see how much they learn from Japan while using translation apps.

There was also a member of the mammoth team who couldn't wait for the corona to settle down this summer (second from right, Tristam)
Present a Mammoth snowboard team hoodie to friends of the same generation.The day will surely come when we can connect!

November.We are back in the US and Mammoth Mountain season has begun.As usual, he will be on the Mammoth snowboard team and will be training for nearly 11 days during the season.I am also looking forward to seeing how Japanese coaching will be utilized by him, who is fully immersed in American methods.

"We Are The Future." ~Children connecting Japan and America~ Serialization project

Continue to Chapter 2 From Mammoth.
Chapter 3 From Japan. Niseko, Japan's Snowy Mountains
Chapter 4 From Japan. Park environment in Japan, Hakuba 47
Chapter 5 From Mammoth. World-class park, Mammoth Mountain