The 2013 Holy Bowly Recap

Words and Photos: Aaron Blatt

Hopping a flight to Tokyo in the days leading up to the 2013 Holy Bowly you’d be hard pressed not to see some of the top riders, photographers, and filmers in the isles of your plane on their way to the event. After landing in the city, the bullet train whisked the international attendees up to Tenjin – a tiny resort town at the base of one of Japan’s well kept secrets… A serious mountain with some insane access to big mountain lines during the winter, and home to one of the raddest events in snowboarding this past week.

“The Holy Bowly isn’t a contest, it’s a gathering” according to Krush Kulesza, master of ceremonies and the man behind Holy Bowly. “This was a good excuse for everybody to make a point in their schedule to come out here. We started it first for editorial and it made sense to just do it for the story… All of a sudden all the people started showing up too – we don’t need a contest, we don’t need anything here, it’s just a sharing of style.”

The setup was beyond perfect, laid out with banks, walls, and transitions to keep the crew busy finding lines, airs, and gaps throughout the five-day event. Not only was the bowl itself perfect, but riders could keep their speed all the way to the chair and stay strapped in during the short ride back to the top for seemingly endless laps. Everyone on the double chair had their back torqued to turn around and watch the action going down in the bowl, so indeed all eyes were on the course at all times.

Heavy aerial maneuvers were consistently going down on the two hips exiting the bowl, and by heavy we’re talking about some of the most stylish snowboarding to date. Though an occasional spin could be witnessed, the straight airs were all time with Chris Brewster, Forest Bailey, and Austin Hironaka leading the charge as top tweakers at Tenjin. At any given time the trains rolling through the bowl could consist of up-comers to legends and everywhere in between. Blake Paul, Zak Hale, and birthday boy Sam Taxwood would continuously drop dangerously close to each other, bobbing and weaving, and finally flipping on their way up and over the volcano. The legendary posse of Wes Makepeace and Jamie Lynn could be seen popping precise backside airs, and nearly missing each other as Wes would carve and Jamie would air over him.  Along with the North American crew, an insane cast of local Japanese rippers were taking transfers to the moon, and carving like crazy all week long.

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Chris Brewster is mad flexible. PHOTO: Aaron Blatt

On Saturday the bowl was opened to the public, the sun broke, and the crew tore the course up for one more day before Krush shut it down with a final lap. Upon wrapping up the event, everyone made their way to the center of the deep end, and Jamie launched off a few fireworks to cap the day and salute the people who came together to make this event possible.

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The majestic Holy Bowly course. PHOTO: Aaron Blatt

The Holy Bowly captured the heart and soul of snowboarding. With more and more of the larger televised events moving out of less populated zones and consolidating, we can all hope to see more of these stand alone contests and gatherings popping up – making it possible for crews to enjoy snowboarding together in far away places for years to come.