Archives: 2012年4月

§43 People makes Hirafu colorful (6)

I met a completely new skiing in Whistler and my view of skiing was changed significantly.

President ODAJIMA Katsuhiko

In addition to snowboarding, there was another important movement in the 1990s in Hirafu. It was freestyle mogul skiing. ODAJIMA Katsuhiko run NISEKO 343 outdoor shop is a person of the people in its beginning.

第43回、NISEKO 343、小田島勝彦さん夫妻

I was born in Sapporo in 1951. I, the time of from junior high school to college student, had been devoted to alpine skiing. I had been a member of a ski club of Hokkai Gakuen University for four years. Sapporo Olympics (1972) was held during that time. A training camp at Sakae Ryokan at Hirafu Zaka in every skiing season was our annual event. Also other inns were crowded in camps of well-known companies and universities across Japan.

There was a practice worth, I won a prize in the competition in Hokkaido. Hokkaido student championship was held in Asahikawa and I came across a woman later become my wife. Even when I graduated from college, I was not satisfied with my skiing yet. I did not become a permanent employee that is hard to take a long vacation after graduation from college. So, I worked part-time to earn money for a trip. And, in order to obtain the conclusion of my own way to the skiing, I went to Whistler (Canada) alone. I met a completely new skiing there. Those experiences have significantly changed my view of skiing.

I saw people enjoying freestyle skiing on powder snow in Whistler. These styles are skiing that was called “hot dog” from the title of the movie with the theme of that kind of skiing later and skiing on fresh powder snow. Those skiing styles that were totally different from Japanese style had been opened my eyes. At that time in Japan, competing for time and accuracy of form were main style of skiing.

I was surprised that there was so free skiing. And I noticed that freestyle skiing was what I wanted to do. A few years after returning home, I bought a building of pension of Hirafu in 1979, opened Lodge Ronde.

YAMAZAKI Osamu became the representative of Japan’s first mogul skier for the 1992 Olympics in Albertville (France). He had been driven into the skiing while working at my lodge for a few seasons.

Many freestyle mogul skiers have stayed in my lodge. Because there was a reputation that many mogul skiers gathered to my lodge. I assembled a freestyle mogul team called “Niseko B & J” *1.

Freestyle mogul competition started almost from scratch in Japan. I became very obsessed that expand a new style of ski in Japan from Hirafu. Nearly 10 of my staff, was chosen a member of the national team, including my wife.

*1 YOSHIKAWA Sora, a member of Japanese national ski team, is an ex-member of the team. Currently, five skiers certified by Hokkaido Ski Federation are member of the team.

In April 1991, Odajima and colleagues held a “Super Bumps Niseko Cup”, the first mogul skiing tournament in Hirafu. The women’s winner of the first tournament is SATOYA Tae who was junior high school first-year student. Later, she won the gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. The men’s winner is ITO Atsushi, the manager of Niseko 343, is ex-coach of National Mogul Team. The tournament brings other remarkable skiers into the world. NAKAMOTO Katsuya, the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics contestant, is one of them.

Absolutely not now, in the 1980s, there was a struggle because the ski resorts did not understand freestyle mogul. Slopes became suitable for mogul skiing at last. However, as soon as the ski patrols found moguls, they removed it. This had been repeated many times. Now ski resorts and us are getting together, that is a nostalgic story.

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