Japan:Moving Mountains

First off, I would like to apologize for the lack of photos in this blog post. The lodge that I am currently staying at doesn't have wifi... so I'm using the public computer in the lobby.  Uploading pictures is a no-go. That being said...  The Giro shoot wrapped up 2 days ago in Niseko. Overall the trip was a success. It was great to spend time with Riddle and Dorey as we were all skiing out of our element. I think we all learned a thing or two from Ingrid... Major thanks go out to Giro for arranging the whole trip (especially you, Chuck Platt) and to Mitch (our guide from Black Diamond Lodge). I finally got to ski the infamous Japan pillow lines and avalanche barriers- they were more fun than I had even imagined!

On Wednesday it was time to meet up with a new crew for a new mission.  I made the journey from Niseko to Sapporo and met up with filmer/editor extrodinaire John Roderick (www.neuproductions.com), kick-a** photog Erik Seo (www.erikseo.com), my awesome boyfriend Julian Carr (www.discreteheadwear.com) and our guide Nobu Murai. It was time to experience the isolated parts of the Japanese Mountains to the North near Furano.  To step even further away from the contest scene, away from sponsors, away from business. It was time to reintroduce myself to the joys of skiing, of creativity, of fun.

With a 5 am wake-up call on Thursday morning, we loaded the van and arrived at our hotel. By 9:20 we were on the tram. By 10 am we were about ready to throw in the towel. Conditions were about as bad as they could have been for Japan. There was one aspect that still had manageable snow on it, but everything else was severely sun-crusted or bullet proof. The first line I tried to ski, I dropped in thinking the snow would be decent. I sank into the sun-crusted layer and as I tried to turn to the left, my skis kept going straight. I lost balance and tumbled down the hill, rolling sideways stright into a tree. My knees weren't stoked. There was nothing to do but laugh, so I did- quite heartily- and shortly thereafter everyone else laughed too. Thankfully Julian was there to keep the confidence up. He is incredible for that. (Maybe that's why he can successfully front-flip 200+ ft cliffs). 

Julian managed to find a few airs to get off of, and after a mini-melt down from me got me to ski a small line and drop into snow that resembled conditions I skied when I blew my right knee. By the end of the day I was feeling a bit more with the conditions and managed to get off of a few decent airs myself. Overcoming fears always feels good.  We were all proud of the effort yesterday. We worked hard for the shots that we got, and though they weren't many, they were as good as they could've been.  But we were all wondering what we would do in the coming days. We needed snow, a lot of snow.

Apparently the snow-gods were listening and they blessed us with a bit of a storm. When we woke this morning and looked outside, it was clear that there would be some fresh snow, but we figured only about 6-10". It would help. We could milk some pow turns, but we would still have to look for that northern aspect and jumping off of anything might still be questionable.  We headed out, slightly skeptical but mostly optimistic.

It didn't take long to realize that it had in fact snowed about half a meter up top.  Right away we were getting face shots.  The new snow was deep and it didn't seem to be letting up. From run to run, our bootpack would be filled with new snow.  This went on all day. We got shot after shot. I skied some of the deepest snow of my life and got to do it with one of my favorite people. I got to ski for me again and it was extremely refreshing. A few airs, lots of pow turns and endless smiles.

I am so grateful for this life and am so grateful for moments like this that provide the reminder. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and forget just how lucky we are.  Life is a blessing. Remember to try to make the most of it everyday, and you'll be on a good path.

Kampai. (Cheers, in Japanese)