"We Are The Future." ~Children connecting Japan and America~ Chapter 6 Messages from 4 top Japanese players

Focusing on the next generation of snowboarders, especially children up to the age of 13 who can be registered for competition in the FIS, the serial project that compares the training environments in Japan and the United States and explores the secrets of their development is finally coming to an end. chapter.This time, we asked four professional riders who are already active in the world three questions.How do you feel about the off-training facilities in Japan that you have focused on throughout the series, and the differences between Japan and overseas?Based on that, what do you want to tell the children who are practicing now?Yukie Ueda concludes her journey into the future of Japan's kids' snowboarders with interviews with four top riders visiting Mammoth.

Text: Yukie Ueda


There are players who grew up in a Japanese snowboarding environment and climbed to the top of the world.What kind of childhood did they spend and what did they feel when they left Japan and went out into the world? The words of the top riders who answered the three questions contained important hints and thoughts that touched our hearts.

[3 questions]
1) Influence of Japanese practice environment
2) What did you feel when you went abroad?
3) Advice for children


Reira Iwabuchi

Event:slopestyle, big air
Major achievements:2022 Beijing Olympics SS 5th, BA 4th.In the same year, he won the BA at the World Cup in Switzerland and placed 3rd at the BA in Canada. 2023 X GAMES Aspen SS 4th place, BA win
Current activity:Overall champion of the FIS World Cup Big Air this season.The 21-year-old Reiraku, who has accumulated her experience and achievements, emits a strength and aura that cannot be imagined from her small appearance.

Photo: Lee Ponzio

1) Influence of Japanese practice environment
In fact, I'm very nervous, so fear was always a hindrance to my practice.When I try a new trick in snow practice, I check it carefully, and I take a lot of time to try a single trick.That's why the environment of the air mat, where you can practice with low risk, eased my fear of techniques that were becoming more difficult.I think it was a training environment that had a great influence on me.There are plenty of off-training facilities in Japan, so it not only reduces fear but also makes it easier to try new things.I think it's wonderful that you can snowboard while feeling the joy of trying and learning new techniques.

2) What did you feel when you went abroad?
The level of general snowboarders is very high. At the ski resort, there are people who are so good that I wonder if they are top riders.It was a sight I had never seen in Japan, so I was surprised when I first went to America.It is very stimulating to have someone with a high level in the usual practice environment. I felt that I would improve if I skated in this environment.
I also felt the difference from Japan in terms of scale.In particular, the scale of the parks is incomparably large compared to Japan, and there are many slopes.I think that experience was one of the things that inspired me.

Photo: Lee Ponzio

3) Advice for children
I used to skate with my dad all my childhood.I was originally shy, so I had a hard time making friends on my own.Now that I think about it, it was around this time that I thought snowboarding was the hardest.I didn't understand the feeling of having fun skating with friends, so I think it was difficult to find the joy of skating alone.Also, even as a child, I felt the pressure of winning in competitions, so I tried my best to improve.

In the process of aiming for the top, there may come a time when you feel more pain than fun, but I hope you don't forget that "I'm doing snowboarding because it's fun."I have to carry a lot of things such as pressure and expectations from people around me, but there are always people who support me more than that.Don't give up on skiing and do your best!

Photo: Lee Ponzio

Sena Tomita

Event:Half pipe
Major achievements:2022 X GAMES Aspen HP Winner, Beijing Olympics HP 3rd in the same year
Current activity:As a member of the Japanese national team, he is expanding his range of activities such as backcountry photography between tournaments.She achieved the feat of becoming the first female medalist in the history of Japan in the Olympic halfpipe, but she still enjoys snowboarding at her own pace.

1) Influence of Japanese practice environment
Since I was able to do the Obuse Quest when I was in elementary school, I used two off-training facilities to practice.I used to go to Kamui Misaka on the weekends and do quests after school.

Actually, when I was in elementary school, I was envious of my friends playing and talking with each other at school, so I even said, "I don't want to go to practice."But when I went to off-training, it was fun, so I wonder if I could keep going.

2) What did you feel when you went abroad?
When I started participating in competitions, I was envious of the kids around me who went skating overseas. I asked, ``I want to go, too,'' but my family couldn't afford it, so I was told, ``If you join the national team, you can go abroad.'' Rather than aiming for the Olympics, the desire to go abroad was the driving force behind me (laughs).

Once I was able to go abroad, I realized that unlike Japanese skaters who skate as long as they have time, overseas skaters stop practicing according to their own condition.I was surprised at first, but after playing as a player for a long time, I came to think that it is important.Now I think that it is necessary to finish the practice and take a good rest for the day when I am satisfied without being influenced by others.

3) Advice for children
Snowboarding was a family fun and a hobby for the whole family.I didn't come here with the sole goal of competing, but I have loved snowboarding since I was a child, so I think I was able to achieve good results.There have been times when I wanted to stop competing, but even if I do, I want to continue snowboarding forever.

I want the children who are competing now to enjoy and love snowboarding in the same way.When I was in elementary and junior high school, I did everything without deciding to specialize in (half) pipes.During that time, I realized that I was good at half pipes.So, while you are young, I want you to try various things and find what you are good at.


Yuki Kadono

Event:slopestyle, big air
Major achievements:2012 Air&Style Beijing Tournament SS winner. 2014 X GAMES BA 2nd place, Sochi Olympic SS 8th place in the same year.
Current activity:Currently based in Jackson Hole, USA, he has a strong presence in the world of video while honing his backcountry skills.Even in the contest scene, he has won the World Quarter Pipe, and while he is an active athlete, he has jumped over the frame and is creating a new history for Japanese snowboarders who are active overseas.

1) Influence of Japanese practice environment
When I was a child, airbag facilities were first introduced.At that time, the quality of the brush was not as good as it is now, so edge control was important, and it was difficult to adjust the speed for children to fly.I was flying thinking how flat I could gain distance without making an edge on the exit.Perhaps because I was practicing in such an environment, I think I was able to practice not only the rotation but also the total.

It is important to understand that snowy mountains and airbag facilities are “different sports using snowboarding”.It's hard to tell because today's brushes can slide just like snow, but the difference between snow and artificial turf is overwhelming.If you can understand that, you can make more use of your off-training practice on the snow.

Photo: @yoshiburger

2) What did you feel when you went abroad?
Everything in America is big, scale.The quality of the ski slopes is completely different between the facilities and the park. "I can ride a snowboard" = "I'm good at moving with a snowboard", so the distance and slope are important.It is also true that there are few mountains in Japan where you can hone your snowboarding skills.

And everyone here (Americans) does snowboarding because they love it.I think there are a lot of Japanese people who think "I have to do it".The pure feeling of "like" makes people stronger, so everyone should do what they think is fun.But someday there will be a wall that can't be overcome just by having fun.The important thing is how you overcome it.When I hit a wall, I thought, "I want to overcome it and enjoy snowboarding again."

Photo: @yoshiburger

3) Advice for children
The feeling of "fun" wins anything. It's much stronger than "I'm scared, I hate it, I'm tired." I think that "fun" is a valuable source of energy that raises human limits.What are you practicing for?If you ask me... I can confidently say, "Snowboarding is really fun if you can handle it freely!" ’.It's the ultimate in being able to ride a snowboard freely and enjoy it as you like.


Hirano Kaishu

Event:Half pipe
Major achievements:2022 X GAMES Aspen HP 3rd, Beijing Olympics HP 9th
Current activity:Won two Rookie of the Year titles, SLUSHIES and SNOW GROVE AWARDS.He says he focuses on competitions, but he enjoys snowboarding freely depending on the members who skate.He is loved by overseas riders because of his charm unique to Kaiho.

Photo: Kosuke Shinozaki

1) Influence of Japanese practice environment
Practicing bug jumps allows me to build on the basics, so I was able to connect to my own characteristic height.Murakami (my hometown Murakami City, Niigata Prefecture) was able to give me an image of the basic movement of the halfpipe in the bug jump, which was very valuable.Also, by practicing at the skate park on a daily basis, I was able to link the fine movements of skating to the snowboard.Thanks to that, I think I've become able to express a detailed style.

Photo: Kosuke Shinozaki

2) What did you feel when you went abroad?
American resorts are huge.But I like both big American resorts and Japanese resorts. (Beijing) After the Olympics, I had the opportunity to skate with a foreign rider that I admired.

3) Advice for children
I think I've been able to come this far because of the environment around me and the stimulation I received from my older brothers (Hideki, Ayumu) ​​who practice stoically.I think it's important for children who aim to be world-class to enjoy snowboarding and keep it going for a long time.I want you to start skating as early as possible and keep it going for a long time.


Finally.

Currently, in the Japanese snowboarding environment, many children focus on the sport from childhood and devote themselves to full-scale training, but it is not that the number of children who can go abroad and gain experience while they are young is not increasing.I can't go abroad without the support of my parents, and the realistic figure is 1 to 100 million yen for one expedition.Considering the current price and exchange rate situation, I think it is quite difficult to continue to support them.

Even so, there is stimulation that can be received only by going abroad, and when I see the expressions of children who have been stimulated and hear inspiring stories, I think that seeing the world is something young Japanese snowboarders can gain just by staying in Japan. I think you are teaching me something important that cannot be learned.

By learning about different environments and the vastness of the world, I sometimes feel the value of the place where I am now.Like the four interviewees, the sensations they experienced in overseas snowboarding environments since they were in elementary and junior high school must have had a considerable impact on their subsequent careers as athletes.So I sincerely hope that the younger generation will have more opportunities to see the world from an early age.

There was a common word in the messages from the four top riders to the children.
I felt that the word "enjoy" was a very pure and strongest keyword.
If the children themselves and we, as parents, keep that in mind, the future of Japanese snowboarders that children will open up may change a little.


"We Are The Future." ~Children who connect Japan and America~ Serial project

Chapter 1 From Japan. Why Japanese athletes have become stronger and the training environment for children
Chapter 2 From Mammoth. The reality of the mammoth snowboard team
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