words by: McKenna Peterson
“Wow, snow boners everywhere” Pip Hunt wipes the condensation off the inside of the van window in order to get a better look at the 8-foot-high snow banks that line the skinny road. Laughter ensues, “seriously, how much do you think it has snowed since we have been here?…. Hey, you’re driving on the wrong side of the road again”
“Oh. Yeah, s*** I need to stop doing that”
Two weeks of overhead blower powder, getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road, and delving into the intimidating yet absurdly delicious Japanese cuisine proved to be quite the adventure for the K2 Ski Alliance ladies. Pip Hunt, Amie Engerbretson, Lexi duPont and McKenna Peterson linked up at Hokkaido’s Kiroro Resort with one profound goal; to have as much fun as possible.
As we put on our skins and headed into the backcountry for the first day of skiing, we were all feeling some nerves. The sun was out, the snow was perfect, and we were following local knowledge to a zone of spines. Yes, spines, in Japan. Who would have thought? Cameras were queued and the pressure was on. When the face came into view, we each hurriedly picked a line and gunned it to the top. Naturally, we made Lexi, with more Alaska spine skiing experience than the entire K2 mens team drop first. We watched as Lexi was consumed by billows of perfectly light powder, she let out a “wooohoooo” and disappeared from view. My eyes grew wide and powder panic overtook my soul like never before, “I am dropping next!” I yelled over the radio, “ready when you are”. Camera man Jefe’s response turned my gut and slashed my pillowy visions, “Lex is a little hurt down here, the face is steeper than expected, standby”.
The words you never want to hear. How did the initial stoke of the ‘wooohooo’ turn into a regrettable ‘ouch’?
Lexi was ok, just a bit of shin-bang and a little wake up call for all of us. We had rushed into skiing those lines without second thought or a concise look. For that moment, and that moment alone, we allowed our ego’s to overtake our inner child and we went for the rowdy line. And when your uber-importante number 1 goal is to have fun, the rowdy line is not always the answer.
Together, we recounted the day and made a pact to prioritize having as much fun as possible throughout the remainder of the trip. We were in Japan, the land of hello kitty and unbelievable amounts of low density powder; we were going to enjoy every aspect of the experience. Powder shots were paired with Motown and portraits evolved into slow-motion hairwhips. The point was to replace the ‘roars’ with ‘meows’ and deep breaths with giggles. We skied mellow pow and deep pow, popped pillows and hugged trees, we ate sushi and envisioned stomach aquariums, we even sang karaoke to the Spice Girls until the sun came up. All smiles, all the time.
I think everyone can agree that in the world of skiing, laughter trumps intensity any day.