Next-generation notable riders Yuku Kakimoto and Hioki Takamori enter the season. From Mammoth Mountain!

Photo: Brad Chamberlain Photo: yoshiburger

Two riders headed to Mammoth Mountain for the first time in the season. They are Yuku Kakimoto and Hioki Takamori, both still in their teens. Yukie Ueda, who works at the local house where they were staying, told me that the two had a great season in the area. What kind of season did he have in America, and what kind of snowboarding life did he lead? I'll let you know how it goes.
Text: Yukie Ueda

On November 10th, the season began at Mammoth Mountain in California, USA. Even though opening day was on a Friday, there was a huge crowd. Perhaps it was a lingering feeling from last season, which recorded the highest amount of snowfall ever, and the sight of hundreds of people skating on one course, much like during the bubble period, was covered by many media outlets. Even at the beginning of the season when only some courses are open, a one-day ticket costs 20,000 to 30,000 yen in Japanese yen. The city is overflowing with people. Every year I am amazed at the ability of American ski resorts to attract visitors.

Two snowboarders from Japan came to Mammoth at the beginning of the season. Yuku Kakimoto is 18 years old, and Hioki Takamori is 15 years old. These are the next generation riders who are currently attracting attention. They are not athletes aiming for the Olympics, but each aiming for the world in different ways. Although their goals and activities were different, they all had one thing in common: a desire to make a full-fledged entry into America during this period.

Yua and Himari have a difficult time coming to the United States. It's interesting because the purpose and genre are different.

Although he is only 15 years old, Hioki Takamori is one of Japan's top-level jib players and is gaining attention around the world. She has already been invited to events and competitions overseas, and her skating has captivated many people. She also made big news last year when she signed an international contract with CAPITA. Her parents' desire to stay in America and give her the experience during this important period, and her ambition to venture out into a new world. Seeing the hopeful look on Himari's face when she came to consult with her father, she felt that this might be a turning point for her.

Himari has a warm atmosphere but an unwavering core strength.

Meanwhile, Yuku Kakimoto visited Mammoth with several crew members in the spring of last season. Yua had just decided to break away from the ``competition'' track that many of her contemporaries were following and take a new path, and although she still had a rough image, she exuded a unique charm that seemed like she could do something.
When they met again in Japan, Yua listened with interest to the story about the mammoth at the beginning of the season. He contacted me later and reported, ``I've decided to go to Mammoth!'' I told Yua, an 18-year-old who had experience overseas, that if she got lost on the street, she could come to my house, but as expected, by the time we returned to the United States, she had already settled in our living room.

Yua pushes forward with wild intuition and outstanding action.

Mammoth in November. Although the mountain is not fully open, there is value that can only be seen at this time of year. What you get out of this environment is up to you. Mammoth's snowboarding season has begun with young Japanese players with unknown potential.

Yuku Kakimoto blooms where it is placed 

"I thought I'd give it a try this season."
Yua was greedy every day during his stay. He was desperately looking for stimulation to get something out of him.
``Last year, I changed gears, and to be honest, I'm a little nervous. I need to make a new path quickly. It wasn't easy and I felt frustrated, so I've turned on the switch and said, ``Look at me this year.''
In fact, when he came to the United States this time, he wanted to be the first to show a powder freeride video, but there were days when there wasn't a lot of snow to cover. At that time, Yua would watch videos every night and ski all day long to master the jib on the slopes, something he was not good at.
“My favorite rapper said that there is meaning in people blooming in the place they are placed.”
He must have been nervous because he wasn't able to skate as he had expected, but he didn't show that frustration and just looked for what he could do in the here and now.

Yua's style has a sense of speed and momentum even when jibbing. Photo: yoshiburger

One day, my son Tora reported to me, ``Today when I was cliff jumping, Yua came flying too, and he was flying really hard!'' It seems that Yua, who was playing the park, spotted Tora and the mammoth team jumping in the distance, and they flew together to join them. Mammoth's coach recorded footage of Yua flying, and after Yua posted it on social media, local cameraman Brad contacted Yua. "I want to take pictures of you skating," he said.

Yua focuses on expressing herself through natural terrain Photo: Brad Chamberlain

At that point, Yua immediately extended his planned stay for two weeks, thinking there was still something he could do here. Photographer Brad said he was attracted to Yua's powerful skating and style, and she continued to photograph him.
``I had a good experience working with photographers from overseas.It's difficult to communicate well when shooting from a place where the cameraman can't see me, so I gained confidence by being able to express what I wanted to say in English.'' The biggest thing was being able to experience the first step of filming overseas in a good environment.''

Yua's attitude of clearly communicating his intentions without compromising attracts photographers from overseas. Photo: Brad Chamberlain

Yua is a man who not only has the will to seize opportunities, but also seizes them on his own.
"There are only good things about being able to move with a pin. I don't feel like it's hard because I'm doing it for what I love."
He has no hesitation in acting on his own, and whenever he goes out, he tries to seize some opportunity to come back. Although he is not yet fluent in English, he is not afraid to communicate with foreigners and is actively connecting with them.

With local photographer Brad. I also connected with other American filmers myself.

Since he was a child, Yua has been good at jumping higher than others and has never neglected to take care of his body due to his experience with injuries.
"Seriously, my body is completely different! I look and move differently than when I came from Japan. Towards the final day of Mammoth, I started to be able to move more and more, and if I can move like this, I can move even more in Japan. It was a good start. I did.”
This result would not have been possible just by waiting for the right environment. Yua will continue to find the key to the door that interests him and open it.

Yua's powerful flight was cheered by people around her. Photo: Brad Chamberlain

A clumsy, self-paced girl's personality changes in front of the rails.

Fifteen-year-old Himari is surprised by the gap. She is a girl with a warm impression both in appearance and in the way she speaks. At first glance, she couldn't imagine that this child would attack heavy iron items.
Himari's popularity overseas is more than I expected. Immediately after arriving in the town of Mammoth, the American professional riders said, ``You're Himari, right?'' at the supermarket, and Himari asked to take a picture with them on the slopes.The American professional riders said, ``We're your big fans.'' "That's it," he said, taking photos and videos.
Whether he realizes it or not, he seems happy and smiling, enjoying the praise and messages from professionals.

The real face is an innocent high school girl

In my personal life, I was not used to cooking, so I would spend about 30 minutes cutting an onion, feeling exhausted and saying, ``I'm tired.'' Apparently chopping an onion is harder than skating that hard.
However, once he stands in front of the rail, he becomes stoic and doesn't give up even when he gets hit. Is Himari okay after falling badly? When I called out to him, he responded in a relaxed tone, saying, "It hurt a little," which made me go crazy. Many times, when she returned home, she would find her clothes lying on the living room floor, as if the battery had run out. This girl really loves snowboarding, and I'm sure she's doing her best.

With a small body, he exudes a sturdy style that captivates people. Photo: Brad Chamberlain

After a month had passed, Himari started to appear in the kitchen, thinking on her own and making all kinds of things with the ingredients in the refrigerator. It might be annoying for her, but when I told her to do the washing and tidying up properly, she listened and took in what I was told. Her posture is probably the same as when snowboarding. Himari steadily grew up at her own pace.

The purity of trying new things and things for the first time was evident in his skating as well. Photo: Brad Chamberlain

“I was able to do something that I would never have been able to do in Japan, which gave me more confidence.”
Himari reflected on this while driving to LA after a month-long stay.
``In Japan, even if I don't have the right style, everyone praises me.When I perform a technique, everyone around me approves of it, so even if I want to do it until I'm satisfied with it, I can't get any further.''
However, America, where such naivety does not work, was the perfect environment for Himari.
``Tsuyoshi-san watched me closely, saying, ``I didn't lie down to the end of the board, so let's do it again.'' That's why I was able to do my best until I was satisfied.''

Himari's husband Tsuyoshi (yoshiburger), who shoots the video, is very strict in his advice because he knows Himari's abilities.

Himari's style of riding so hard that the board bends until the outside. Photo: yoshiburger

“There are a lot of talented people at Mammoth, and Tora-kun and the rest of the team are also working really hard, so I thought I could do it too. Tsuyoshi-san also looked at items that I didn’t think I could include at first, so I tried them out.” I was able to do it. I didn't push it here because I had the photo taken, and I was able to create items that I would have avoided if I had been alone."
She says it humbly, but people around her wonder how she can attack so bravely.

What should I do? A gutsy remake of the rail that I heard Photo: Brad Chamberlain
During the session with the photographer, I was able to communicate my intentions and ask him to take pictures until I was satisfied.

Many times during my stay, I heard people say, ``She was pushing herself really hard today.'' The image that she is a small and cute girl is actually a hindrance, as Himari herself is aiming for a high level of quality.
“I’m glad there was someone who told me properly and sternly.”
Although Himari was having a hard time with the unfamiliar life overseas, she never said she couldn't do it and tried to do things she had never done before one by one.
"Oh, it's already been a month. I wish I had another month. No, I wish I could stay in America forever..."
The 15-year-old girl showed no signs of being homesick and left a huge mark on this land when she returned home.

I get hit by the gap between slipping and my real face.

The meaning of the start dash at the beginning of the season

A park will appear at Mammoth Mountain when it opens. Even if it's not snowing, the course will expand and the number of park items will increase one after another, and even if there are pebbles lying on the course, you can collect the snow and create a kicker. There are plenty of cliffs and trees on the slopes, and if there's even a little snow, you can fly all over the place and have as many guesses as you like. The great appeal of the Mammoth is that it can not only be used to ski on snowy slopes, but can also be used as an all-rounder. The city's altitude is 2,400m, so just staying there will serve as a good altitude training experience. It's the perfect place to build up your body at the beginning of the season.

Upon returning to Japan, Himari will start doing street photography in Hokkaido. He felt anxious because he needed to be mentally prepared to attack the streets from the beginning of the season, but he went home with an excited look on his face, confident that he would be able to put the skills and mentality he had learned here to good use.

Yua left for LA a short while ago, exuding confidence that he had expanded the range of his freeride by unexpectedly slipping in jibs and kickers. On her way home, she met up with a photographer she had met at Mt. Hood in the summer, and stopped by the DAKINE office that had invited her to come to America. And, in true Yua style, she firmly grasped the opportunity and went home.

It seems like each of them is making a dash to start the season that just started in Japan.

By immersing yourself in a new environment, you can change yourself.
In recent years, it has been said that there is no point in traveling overseas unless the results and results are the same, so I was happy to see that these two young next-generation riders were able to prove that point.