- Tess Johnson
Japaaaan The Best
After an unforgettable time at World Championships, it was time to go to Japan for some powder skiing! I went with a few current and former teammates to Kiroro Resort in Hokkaido. We spent five incredible days skiing waist deep powder, eating Japanese food and relaxing in the onsen (Japanese hot spring). It was pretty funny actually, the resort would call for 3-5 inches each day when in reality it was a foot of light, fluffy snow each run. We stayed in a container house in a small town called Akaigawa (there was one tiny table as the only piece of furniture) and ate gas station ramen for breakfast everyday. For dinners we’d drive to Sapporo and Yoichi (a city on the west coast) for the best meals I have ever had: sushi bowls, tendon, and ramen. The Black family, who owns the resort cafe (Black Diamond Cafe) at Kiroro, were the best hosts, showing us ripping lines around the resort and taking us to authentic restaurants. I am thankful I got to meet them and I can’t wait to ski the amazing Kiroro with them as soon as possible.
Sometimes when we ski a mogul course over and over again, it’s easy to lose track of what’s really important: passion. I started mogul skiing because I love to ski, and I will never sacrifice that love for competition or training. Going to Japan reminded me of the beauty Mother Earth has to offer and that there is much more to skiing than the 250 meters of a mogul course where I spend so much of my time. This trip filled me with gratitude for this incredible life as well as the people I get to spend it with. It was very special to meet new friends and embrace Japanese culture while doing what I love most.
We went from Hokkaido to the main island for the annual World Cup stop in Tazawako, and feeling refreshed from our trip up north, I was ready to compete again. I finished 6th in both singles and duals and was very proud with how I skied. In all honesty, I did think I got underscored, but what I’ve learned in this sport is that you just can’t control the outcome. All that matters is what you can control, and worrying about anything or anyone else is a waste of time. It’s very easy to get worked up about the judging in my sport, but I’m learning to take the high road, because I know my hard work and enthusiasm will pay off in some way.
Perhaps the best part of Tazawako, though, is the fans. Last year I won the duals event, so I gained many Japanese fans and they cheered their hearts out for me as well as every single competitor. Mogul skiers are essentially celebrities in Japan, and they brought gifts upon gifts: sushi jenga, an onsen towel, candies and chocolate, homemade origami animals, chopsticks, you name it. After being slightly upset with my results, they immediately overflowed my heart with smiles and hugs. Japan is my favorite country in the world, and I can’t wait to go back.