Salomon Team Training Part Three
The finale edit from Salomon snowboards adventures across Japan, riding trains and hitting spots.
About Team Training:
Hop on board with the Salomon Team as they embark on Team Training, a 3-part web series traveling the diverse terrain of Japan via public railways in search of snowboarding, with no particular destination in mind. From discovering new spots in overcrowded working class cities, to finding untracked lines on the bottomless pow-filled peaks of the North Island, Team Training documents the wanderings of some of the most talented snowboarders in the world. Join Jed Anderson, Louif Paradis, Chris Grenier, Harrison Gordon, Nils Mindnich, Kohei Kudou, Teddy Koo, and Chris Carr as they ride the rails from spot to spot, log hams, and kill time. This is Team Training!
Presented by Salomon Snowboards
Riders: Jed Anderson, Louif Paradis, Chris Grenier, Harrison Gordon, Nils Mindnich, Kohei Kudou, Teddy Koo, Chris Carr & more.
Film & Edit by Tanner Pendleton
Words by Harrison Gordon
Snowboarding is not a team sport. When I hear those words together, I don't think of snowboarding. In fact, it's quite a selfish pursuit. Who is strapping in? I am. Who is riding down the hill? I am. Who just ragdolled down that entire chute? I did. When there's powder on the mountain, I race to the top so I can get fresh tracks to the bottom. And I alone receive the gratification. Sure, we all similar feelings and can imagine what other riders' tricks or slams must have been like, but ultimately, the only person who knows how good your backside 360 felt is you.
However, snowboarding is nothing without your friends. Without your friends you would suck at snowboarding. You need them to help you figure out the speed into that jump, what's up with this rail—is it going to kill me?. Your friends show you what's possible and give you the confidence to try shit. You progress by watching your friends ride, until at some point, if you love it enough, work hard enough, and make the right connections, you might even get sponsored and get on a team. But that sort of team is like nothing that exists in regular sports. "Teammates" are often spread around the world and can spend the entire winter working on their own projects without ever crossing paths. Anyway, as Salomon team riders Louif Paradis, Nils Mindnich, Teddy Koo, and I got to come together in Japan for 10 days this April on a mission to hop trains and search out spots.
If you didn't already know, Japan is one of the best places to snowboard in the world. The mountains are powder-filled and untracked and the people are, without a doubt, the most humble and polite I've ever met. Japan is also home to one of the most well-developed and busiest train systems in the world. Traveling up to 200 miles-per-hour, you can get anywhere on a train. It's insane.
Our main guide on this trip was our dear friend and teammate, Teddy, a dual US and Japanese citizen who grew up bouncing between Oceanside, California and Tokyo. He's one of the sickest snowboarders coming out of Japan today and he knows all of the best places to eat, sleep, and party.
We flew into Sapporo on the north island of Hokkaido, packed our gear into a train car and headed inland try to find some powder at Asahidake. This late in the spring, I was nervous about getting any fresh snow, and peering out the window as cities blurred by, the only thing that kept me calm was drinking a deliciously cold and dry Asahi beer and eating what I thought to be beef jerky.
"Rolling with a big crew can be hard, but at the same time that's when all the funny shit happens, so I'm down for it. We'd all get on the train, have beers, create some good vibes and just keep going. It's a very common in Japan to go snowboarding by taking the train. A lot of people in Tokyo take the bullet train in the morning, go ride, and then come back home. Oh, and they serve ice cold Asahi. So yeah, it's dope."—Teddy
"We got into Asahidake at night and I could tell the snow wasn't great, but I had no idea the extent until the morning. There was this, Oh-shit-I-just-flew-half-way-around-the-world-for-this? moment, but I got over it pretty quick. I knew it was a gamble going into the trip and either way it was going to be an adventure."—Nils
Undeterred by the lack of pow, we headed back to the city to scope some street setups. With Teddy's guidance and our eye for urban potential, we found shit to hit almost immediately—mostly a variety of features we'd never seen before.
"It was interesting to go at this time of the year and ride more spring conditions. And I had never ridden with Nils, so it was cool to get to know him and see how good he is. There was still a lot of snow banks, but it was melting fast. It was fun though—we had a good crew and no one was stressing. I was probably stressing the most, but I don't think I was that bad… Was I?"—Louif
The only bad part of our journey is when Teddy ate shit. Going for a switch frontside 270 on a down-rail, he slipped out near the middle and in an effort to save himself, caught his arm in the supports. The whole thing went down so quickly it was hard to process at first.
"The second I was on the ground, I just knew something was wrong. Everything from my right shoulder to wrist went numb. I couldn't even see my arm because it shrunk inside my sleeve. I just remember seeing all everyone's faces as I was like screaming. Oh, and how calm Louif was. Man, that was kind of trippy. Thanks for the sick painkillers Harrison—I probably would have passed out at the spot and needed CPR or something.
Luckily, Teddy didn't hit his head because none of us knew how to call 911 in Japan. None of our phones even worked over there, so Teddy had to call his own ambulance. He's one tough motherf—ker. It turned out he broke his arm and needed surgery.
Losing Teddy to injury was a real bummer for all of us. With only a few days left, we trained it to Kutchan Station and headed to Niseko for some more spring riding. Luckily, I had a connection up there with a local who hooked us up with a place to stay. For the final two days, we rode slushy park laps at a resort called Hanozono.
We made the best we could of this trip, and although conditions were less than perfect, we accomplished a lot. The reason it all came together is because we genuinely enjoyed being around each other and that's what made Team Training a fun project to work on. I feel very fortunate to be part of the Salomon crew because on our trips over the years we've become great friends. I swear they aren't paying me to say that.