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Drew Tabke Spends His Winter Break on Hokkaido
Posted on March 9, 2014

A local young skier at Kamui Ski Links. Most people in ski lessons wear these bibs, and many resorts require skiers to register and wear bright orange bibs when skiing off of the groomed runs.

Drew Tabke has logged some significant air miles this season. From the Swatch Skiers Cup to the Freeride World Tour stops in Italy, France, and Austria, he’s made a few spectacular stops on the international pro tour. So when the freeride comps took a break for that other international competition last month, you’d think he would have been content to hang out at home in Seattle and catch up on cable. But a Japan trip is hard to turn down and Tabke jumped a plane to spend his mid-season break slaying pow at the small resorts on the island of Hokkaido. This is a report about what Tabke did on his winter vacation. -LYA editor

Our guide Mako on the van, waiting to load up the group’s massive amount of ski luggage. Daisetsuzan stands in the background, the highest point on the island of Hokkaido.

Words and Images by Drew Tabke

2014 is a really busy season for me, with lots of consecutive weeks on the road following the Freeride World Tour. But when Giro Goggles called me up and asked if I could make it to Japan, I said yes without hesitation. A trip to Japan has been a dream of mine for a long time. So at the end of February, just a couple dys after returning home from the FWT event in Austria, I unpacked, repacked, and hit the tarmac across the Pacific. The flight to Japan was very interesting, with a rare view of the Aleutian Peninsula as we headed across the Pacific on a northerly arc.

We had a great group for our week in Japan, with riders Reine Barkered, Ingrid Backstrom, Izzy Lynch, and Riley Leboe. We mainly were gathering photos and video for Giro, but virtually every turn I made during our six days skiing was amazing. A lot of places seem so overhyped – you get somewhere you’ve heard about for a long time to find out that maybe you should have stayed home. This is NOT the case in Japan. The legendary Japan powder you hear about is real.

We spent our time skiing small resorts around Hokkaido (Japan’s north island), Kamui Ski Links and Asahidake. The latter is located on the flanks of Hokkaido’s highest mountain, Daisetsuzan. Our guides Yuki and Mako were awesome, and though the ski resorts we rode were very small, with a few short hikes in the backcountry we scored some amazingly deep snow and really fun forested ski terrain. Avalanche conditions kept us on our toes, but we kept to small terrain and had a fun, safe time.

I LOVE Japanese food – who doesn’t? But a few culinary options were pretty fierce, such as the pickled cod for breakfast, the cold mashed potatoes with the consistency of snot (which apparently burns your skin), and the roe-filled, seared fish that you eat whole.

The trip was amazing, and I’ll be dreaming of deep Japanese powder until I get a chance to go back again. Arigato, Japan!

Author: - Sunday, March 9th, 2014
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