Mysteries of the Orient 

Japanese powder and Korean bowling

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By Maëlle Ricker

Konichiwa! The national snowboard team spent the last two weeks in the Orient.

The first week was fantastic, as Japan always is. Korea, however, was not everyone’s favourite stop of the year. We did well there but the music killed us.

This segment of the World Cup circuit only had halfpipe and race events, so the snowboard cross team stayed in North America to compete on the NorAm tour.

Our trip had a rocky start but did not lack for style. All 15 of us got upgraded into business class at the Vancouver airport for our flight to Osaka. Talk about luck! The plane was a few hours late taking off though, so we didn’t make the connection in Osaka for Sapporo. This didn’t cause any major problems. The first training session wasn’t until the following day anyway.

The overnight stay in Osaka was amazing. Our group split into two and I ended up spending the night with most of our race team. Jasey-Jay, Alexa Loo, Constance Boisvert, and I checked into the hotel and immediately went out for a midnight stroll. We had a great walk through a quaint park out to Osaka’s seaside.

After taking in some fresh ocean air, the four of us headed to the train station for a snack and a quick break dancing show. It was the perfect end to a first night at my second favourite stop on the FIS tour.

Sapporo is the primary city on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. The streets bustled with smiling people most of the day. We had the opportunity to stay right in the heart of it all.

Our hotel had just been remodelled. The rooms were tiny but full of perks, such as high speed internet. Staying downtown is a great way to take in the culture of a country so different than Canada. Trips like this one really remind me just how fortunate I am.

The downfall to downtown living was the commute to the hill. Every morning and afternoon required a 45-minute bus ride in and out of town. I read, chatted with friends, and took in some of the scenery.

Snow was the main attraction outside the bus. I think Japan stole all of Whistler’s white stuff this year. They seemed to have more than enough to go around!

Crispin took advantage of the wonderful snow conditions. He arrived directly from Italy and had a couple of amazing freeriding days before the rest of us got into town. I’d be lying through my teeth if I told you I wasn’t jealous!

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