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JAPAN GRABS - Hakuba 2014-2015 : A Season Exploring the Japanese Alps

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2015 Iwatake Paradise Banked Slalom

Last Saturday, Andrew and I had a go at the Iwatake Paradise Banked Slalom, an event designed and run by Hakuba legend, Noboru Konno. Apparently they only decided to do the event two weeks prior and it’s a testament to the Hakuba locals that this event not only ran smoothly but was a bangin’ race.
Noboru Konno, drops in first

and ollies into the pump-bumps on his way to a 6th place finish

Although everyone was nervous before dropping in, it was a fun atmosphere and the MC was poking fun at all the big name guys & gals

Go Biyajima in the start gate, sayin’ his prayers no doubt

Ben Gibson, trying to get a grip on the fact that I beat him LOL

Most people were waxing up, like my homies from Toyama - Mineto and Yuta

But this guy took it to an entirely new level. We got dirty looks if we came too close to his work area

Keita Yamazaki (featured in the F-Stop Shootout winning video) getting his stretch on

I guess it helped because he powered his way to 10th place

Filmer, Yone is actually a Banked Slalom killer.He finished 9th

There was even this guy on his snowskate - and he actually rode the course really smoothly.

 
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Embrace the g-forces!

Gnarly Sh1t Dawg - she’s actually sponsored by Airblaster

Ben was feeling the heat and stripped down to his pajamas…I mean speed suit. I’m on the right.

Ben in action

He said he went so fast he went flying out of hairpin turn and DQ’d

Andrew put in a great first run, and was going even faster in his second, til he spun out of a turn and butt-checked. He ended up 12th.

And yeah, I have to admit that there’s something really fast about that Trapper base!

Keijiro Kasahara AKA Doggy from World of Weird finished up 7th.

It was such a good vibe at the finish line. Everyone was chilling, and cheering as all the riders finished their second runs.

Then a mad shred down the mountain, with time for a tap to 360 rewind

The winners of the ladies division - Shin Asuka (Head/686/Spy)

and the men’s open´╝Źwon by Naoyuki Shiramoto, who rides for Rome. 2nd and 3rd were Volcom pros

That’s a pretty sick trophy!

Thanks to Noboru Konno and to Iwatake Ski Resort, Hakuba for putting on such a great event. I’m soooo looking forward to next year!

-Marc

Check out this little instagram vid by Okaken Cinema of the event. It’s pretty rad!
https://instagram.com/p/01M7Q3mo8N/

 
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Yesterday was the ‘Still Dreaming’ follow up event to last week’s Dreaming at Norikura Onsen Ski Resort in Hakuba, that Andrew covered a couple of posts back. Check out the little vid made by the Hakuba snowboard shop ‘VEX’:

 
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Some Happo One news….

Unfortunately, the season is coming to a close, and this weekend will be the last for Happo Banks. Make sure you come out and get enough banks riding in to last you through the summer!

Here’s the course designer, Bubbles getting funky on a bank (from last year).

and while we’re talking of closings, Happo One will close on May 10th at the end of the Japanese Golden Week holiday. Still over a month of riding left though, so get out there!

 
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The Iwatake Paradise Banked Slalom looks like such a fun event. I’d love to get out there one of these days. Great course, great vibe… I’m sure it’s an awesome day. Well done, Andrew, on your 12th place finish.

The video is cool, too. That bowl area looks like so much fun.

Thanks for the updates, Japan Grabs team! shaka

 
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Girls at Happo Banks

Since most of our images are of guys ripping, sometimes it’s good to throw up photos of the fairer sex getting their shred on.

Here’s our new friend, Yuu

On the right is Happo Banks digger, Hirono

Gentemstick pro, Patagonia Ambassador, Haruna Kito

-Marc

 
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Ride with Kyota

Earlier this winter, Hakuba local pro, Kyota Miyake passed away in a snowboarding accident. This past Saturday, his Hakuba crew, Hachi, put on an event where everyone could get together and celebrate Kyota’s life.
The day started off with a 10am shred session at Happo One with the Hachi crew and friends. It was a low key affair with little plan other than to take a group photo and then shred.

And shred we did.

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Happo One’s side hits were pillaged. It may be the end of the season but there is still plenty of stuff to huck!

Hachi rider, Yuta Kobayashi goes huge

 

 
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Ride with Kyota pt.2

That evening, there was a gathering at the Roots Cafe, at the base of the Kokusai run at Happo. While the Hachi crew were dj’ing solid sets, in the back room there was a display of Kyota’s photos, drawings, snowboards and outerwear.

The main event was a video montage starting with his most recent footage, and then going back to his first video parts through to the present. All I can say is that he RIPPED. He hit everything so fast and came rocketing out of the landings at speeds that would make grown men cry (well, I would at least). The snowboarding world has really lost somebody special.

Following the videos were more dj sets, and then to close it out, another Hachi rider, Keita Yamazaki came up and did an acoustic set, which had everybody singing along to classic Japanese ballads. It was awesome.

With their prize money from the F-Stop Mountain Shoot Out, Tomohiro Fujii and crew made ‘Ride with Kyota’ stickers up for everybody at the event. I have mine already stuck on my board to give me inspiration before a line, a jump or a race.

-Marc

 
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Japan Grabs - 07 April 2015 12:44 AM

Ride with Kyota

Earlier this winter, Hakuba local pro, Kyota Miyake passed away in a snowboarding accident. This past Saturday, his Hakuba crew, Hachi, put on an event where everyone could get together and celebrate Kyota’s life.
The day started off with a 10am shred session at Happo One with the Hachi crew and friends. It was a low key affair with little plan other than to take a group photo and then shred.

And shred we did.

Back 3

Happo One’s side hits were pillaged. It may be the end of the season but there is still plenty of stuff to huck!

Hachi rider, Yuta Kobayashi goes huge

 

What a wonderful way to pay tribute to a fallen friend and snowboarder. I’m sure he would have been proud.

 
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Japan Grabs - 07 April 2015 01:26 AM

These artworks look amazing. Do you have any info on the artists or more photos?

 
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The photos are mostly by pros of Kyota riding. The artwork is Kyota’s. There was more that wasn’t in the shot. I think Andrew might have got a shot on his phone. I’ll try to get that up.

 
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The artwork is incredible. I love it.

 
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Robbing the Banks Pt.2 [Snowskate!]

Last weekend was quite a busy one at Happo One. While we had the ‘Ride with Kyota’ shred session on Saturday morning, the snowskate gathering “Robbing the Banks” was going on. I ended up missing most of it but I did catch the snow wave race. Just above the Happo Banks park, on the flats coming off the side of the Skyline run, there is a series of waves that you can pump. I think there are 28 or so, so it can make for a good little workout.

The snowskaters hiked up to the start.

And off they went!

It wasn’t close at all. Blue Pants on the left just smoked everybody.

Ah, rookie move. Beware ye claimers before the race is over!

The peloton tries to catch up. Hey! Is that some guy jogging in the background?

This is when things started unraveling for Blue Pants. Notice him on the far right of the pic? He missed the left turn.

...and ended up 2nd. Oh well, congratulations anyways!

After the race, they had a little more shredding in Happo Banks before heading over to do a mogul race in the Sakka area. They ended the day at a snowskate jib park specially made for the event by the organizers. Everybody was stoked, and I wondered again why I didn’t bother to snowskate.

-Marc

 
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Looks like a lot of fun! Those things are a lot harder to ride than they look. LOL

 
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Bataleon Camel Toe review



In my hunt for the ultimate powder board, I came across the Bataleon Camel Toe. I had demoed it last year and was intrigued by the ride, so when I had the chance to pick one up, I grabbed it.
Actually, watch this video first!



So, Bataleon uses Triple Base Technology (3BT) which basically lifts the side edges in the nose and tail to give you a catch-free ride. On the Camel Toe, they have tuned the 3BT to maximize float (POW 3BT).
Check out the graphic:

I’ll admit that the first couple of turns on hardpack on it were quite WTF? moments, but after three days on it I was so used to it that I totally forgot about the 3BT, even with switching between boards.

In powder, there was no learning curve as you can see in this vid of my first pow run on it. I love the whoosh of the snow on the first turn/faceshot.

When looking at the deck on a hard surface, it looks like it has a good nose rocker….yet looking closer underneath the raised edge, you can see the middle of the nose of the board is touching. It has regular camber in between the contact points.

The nose reminds me of a boat hull.

This basically translates to taking the best parts of rocker (raised contact points and pow clearance) yet keeping the strength and stiffness of camber all the way from tip to tail.

In powder, you float great, but it’s not until you get up to speed that the board behaves at its best. It wants to go fast and when you do let it run free, it rewards with the smoothest ride. It has 20mm of taper and a half moon tail to further enhance your powder float.
So, it’s rather stiff all the way through and that means that it can smash through chop quite well, and ride resort on a non-powder day too. This is quite important in my book. If you can rip groomers and sidehits on your way to the pow stashes, your day will be a lot more fun.

Even the tail has a kick to it. Yet it’s nice and stiff and has kept me hanging on through unplanned pow wheelies, where I know a rockered tail (like c2btx)  would have washed out.

How does it compare to other powder boards?
When compared to powder shapes like the Burton Fish, it has a noticeably different feel. As the Camel Toe is stiff all the way through and doesn’t have a soft rockered nose, you don’t get a floaty bounce in pow. That’s neither a positive or negative for me. Floaty bounce is more dreamy but a stiff nose won’t fold at speed or when hitting hard snow, and give you more confidence in gnarlier terrain. Flip flops vs steel-toed boots might be too extreme an analogy but you get the picture.

It is priced at the lower end of the spectrum, and one way this is achieved is with an extruded base and cheaper core. Of course, the board could be lighter (not that I find it heavy) but that’s about it. I don’t notice the extruded base at all and the finish is not one of a cheaper deck. It’s definitely a steal at retail, and an easy way to add a powder board to your quiver.

Finally, I started off this season with five powder boards in my quiver and through the season I gradually discarded the ones that didn’t blow me away every go.  The Camel Toe made the cut with flying colours and I can highly recommend it as a sick powder board.

-Marc

PS. For you surfers out there, check out this video showing the collaboration between Bataleon and Bill Stewart.