The Mountain Wave event has become a fixture at the end of the winter in Hakuba, and we’ve been there every year. This year was no different, and with the ever-changing spring weather giving it a perfect window, Mountain Wave 2022 delivered put a pin in the season in style…
Taking the gondola up in the rain isn’t always the start of a great event but props to the digging crew who had been hard at work with faith the weather would clear. As the clouds lifted the fun started…
When you go this big, nobody cares if don’t grab. Hosoka Ikuya floating, Marseilles skate hip style.Naoto Morota’s instagram is ‘Naoto Go Medium’ …which is funny as he pretty much always sends it!
Naoto was going biggest with the most classically extended methods all weekend!
Aoi Tezuka is one to watch.
This is what happens when young and flexible Japanese rippers are inspired by Jamie Lynn’s method and take it further. Aoi Tezuka turning it up ..and down, at the same time.
Takayuki Nakamura (bleow) took an original approach with blindside methods to fakie:
Sayaka Kato sending and slashing after signing everyone in for the banked slalom. True multi-tasking.
Kuya Kubota, Lib tech ATV who cruised to the win in the Freeride World Qualifier comp in Hakuba this winter – keep an eye out for him in more of those. Another Aoi Tezuka. Young kids keep lapping and getting shots! Japanese ‘tonbi’ (Black Kite) getting curious about who else was flying around… Rei Igarashi went big. His riding is always cat-like. Maybe he was trying to catch the birds…Ryo Aiazawa was slashing and buttering everything with style.
Capita industry guy, Yasu doing the classic grab on a classic board!
Just like Grand Designs, we like a nice extension.Mizuki Gondo in the method motion.Kuya Kubota. No gloves, nice mustache.Kaishi Obata knows the importance of stretching.Naoto Morota. Just classic style.
Keita Yamazaki coming back from an ankle injury, was loving being able to shred again.
Gentemsticks aren’t just for powder turns. Kenzo Nosaka sniping one with eyes on the traffic ahead.
Long shadows and even longer slashes.Daia Okajima (above) stretching his front leg on a lofty frontside nosebone.
Haruki Takeuchi, son of Japanese Burton legend Masanori Takeuichi, with the nose-down, full twist method. Ryuichi Kabeta on the DOPE snowboards Barfoot board
Classic backside nose-bone in the sea of the methods from Mikuto Yamamura.
Dupraz rider, Naoto Morota arcing out one last hit.
What’s a good spring session without a fun banked slalom too? Running a banked slalom well into May, long after the spring snow melted has closed most resorts in Japan is a always a challenge, but the Mountain Wave diggers did a great job. After an open start, the course wound tighter with deep banks and a classic snake run feel. The course held up really well to over 200 riders taking two runs and after the slush settle, results were in. It was sibling rivalry at the top of the Women’s Open with K2’s Natsuki Sato (K2) pushing her younger sister and Dragon Japan teammate Aya Sato (GNU) in second for once. In the Men’s Open the next generation was in effect, with 16-year-old Capita ripper Tanto topping the podium followed by Eiskuke Suguhara (Burton) and Rei Igarashi (Gentemstick). The cheers of the podiums werer followed by the friendly jeers as the results were taped up, and friends could see who was faster. Good times, and the perfect way to round out the season in the Hakuba Valley.
Event organizer Yone keeping the balance between chill vibes and knowing when your run is!
The hand-dug snake run.
Rei Igarashi on course on his Big Fish.
Race face down the line.
Keita Yamazaki, ankle fixed, smooth style back in effect.
Kuya Kubota on course…
…smiling through snake run challenges.
Original Hachi crew, and Slash rider, Yuta Kobayashi.
One of the most impressive things I saw was Rei Igarashi’s inspection run – dipping heelsides on the salted frozen banks that I could barely get an edge into! It softened up and he cruised into third place. Sayaka Kato helps run the event, and ripped the course too.
Boardercross racer, Asami Hirono in the banks:
Kensuke Mumano in the early turns.Toa Okajima poised in the deep bottom turns.Masaki Kitae, Original Hachi and Ride snowboards, in relaxed race mode.Daia Okajima staying ahead of the curve.
Green Clothing rider Noboro ‘Porno’ Konno. Would you believe the nickname came long before the mustache?!Aya Sato has crushed banked slaloms before (along with sick powder lines in Heart Films movies) but this time could quite catch…
…her own big sister! Natsuki Sato put down the fastest time in the women’s race.
A special mention for the snowskate riders, who had the best group vibes for the banked slalom – all waiting together to cheer every rider through the finish line, irrespective of level. They were also sending it on the hip with all the crashes you’d expect – and some impressive airs, topped off by Keita Yamazaki taking the annual method champion win by landing a fully tweaked snowskate method in the final jam session, while everyone else couldn’t quite put down their best tweaks of the day under the spotlight at the end of the day – and getting roasted by MC Nobu for it!
Local Bond outwear rider, Marcos Batista with the delicate balance needed for binding-less tweaking.
Snowskaters in the mist, handling the banked slalom course.
Bindings and no-bindings happily co-existing.
Kieta Yamazaki – K2 snowboards and Original Hachi crew – with the hardest trick of the day – method on his Peacemaker snowskate!
As always a massive thanks to the Mountain Wave diggers for making this a season-ender of the good kind!