Photos by Yanis Ourabah
The brighter readers amongst you, as in those with good memories or those who have just clicked the link above, will know that Kumi Yama means “mountain crew” in Japanese and that the snow contest promised to bring the spirit of gongs, temples, Pac-Man and Invaders up the glacier at Les Deux Alpes.
Sabrina Kusar of Nikita has done us a nice little write up of the event, with photos from Ana Rumiha also of Nikita fame. Cecilia Larsen was also there to rep our favourite Icelandic brand.
“As with previous years, the Kumi Yama contest took place in Les Deux Alpes at the beginning of July. The format of it is really fun and original; a bunch of skiers and snowboarders, pros and amateurs, mature riders and kids from everywhere take part in this international event. There’s only one rule: you must be in a team of three and stay grouped as much as you can when you ride on the Japanese / video game themed snowpark.
Kumi Yama sounds good, open minded, a jam session, sunny days, new acquaintances, original park…. waouuuu…. Let’s go for a fun week! To begin and have a good journey you need; good car and nice people. So I picked up Anouck Grau and Silvia Mittermuller which was a perfect team for travelling.
We met the girls who we were going to share our comfortable flat with. Not everyone had arrived, but we met the two Japanese snowboard girls Mari Mizukami (organiser of the Nikita Chickita loves Kumi Yama contest in Japan earlier this year) and Tomoko Kikuchi (winner of said event) who brought us straight into the Kumi Yama vibes.
We went up for a ride and I was sooooooooo happy to be back on the board. We were able to have a look at the set up for the contest. It seemed to be a good one; we just needed to wax our boards! I met Ana at the chill zone before going down with the Japanese guys in the bubble lift. We started chatting together and the conversation drifted naturally towards the nuclear catastrophe last March when they told us that all the resorts were closed a few days after; I could only start to imagine what they must have felt like and the different states of mind they would have gone through during that time. I just think the world is going mad, it’s scary and we are so powerless faced with such things. All we can do is live and try to have the most FUN we can.
When we woke up we had a nice surprise in our room. Cecila Larsen had arrived during the night! The flat was complete. Everybody was in place and the atmosphere between us was really relaxed and funny. Most of our post riding time was spent cooking, chatting, laughing, drinking tea, stretching and sleeping. It was real nice to spend time with people from all over the world. People from different backgrounds with the same way of thinking meant the vibe was generally chilled which earned us the nickname ‘Grandma’s’ which became our team’s name… ‘The Ninja Grandmas’!
I had a chill day but had an idea for the girls….everyday when we got down from the glacier we were always soooo hungry so I decided to prepare crêpes to welcome everyone. When they arrived they were so stoked to eat it! Their smiles made me happy. Mari asked me if I could make her one with cheese and chocolate… it’s the first time that someone asked me that!
In the afternoon, we decided to have dinner together, the Japanese crew and us. After cooking for two hours we joined the Japanese guys in their flat. One of them, the photographer, arrived totally drunk and crazy; he was almost nude and was doing weird and funny poses for photographs. You can’t imagine him, you had to be there and see him! ahhahah. The Japanese are so polite and nice and even if we don’t share the same language, we laughed a lot and had a really good time.
We went up for a fun ride on the small park and shred together, what a good feeling. Kumi Yama’s park was full of activity with all the people who wanted to get through the qualifications and the level of riding was so impressive on the big kicker. After watching the end of the qualifications we went back down, had the riders meeting with some beers and finished our day really quietly to be ready for the contest. At 22h30 everybody was already asleep.
Day Five, Contest Day
After a good breakfast we went up early to have some time and build our confidence in the park which was sooo icy. During the meeting it had been said that the most important thing was to be in the air at the same time, have fun and be choreographed, so we set about planning some runs.
We really enjoyed jumping together preferring to go for easy but steezy tricks… we really thought that ‘team’ and ‘fun’ were the most important words in that contest.
Then we reached the finals… ‘Desperate Housewives’ (Anouck Grau, Sylvia Mittermuller, Tomoko Kikuchi and Marion Haerty) were who we were up against. Us, ‘The Ninja Grandmas’, made up of Ana Rumiha, Cecilia Larsen and myself. We had a few runs in the smaller pipe for the photoshoot. We were totally tired but we enjoyed our last runs together right until the end of the day. After that we went to the prize giving ceremony where the results were to be announced…. tam tam tam (drum roll)…..in the end the judges decided to award 1st place to the ‘Desperate Housewives’. We took photos, ate sushi and drank beer with all of the girls in the final. Even if we missed out on the victory we were really grateful to NIKITA for inviting us to participate at Kumi Yama.
I don’t have another trophy over my bed but I do have new friends, new stories and experiences that remind me that I’ me sooo lucky to be part of NIKITA TEAM.”