Hello! This is Minchita, the stoked news reporter, and today I’m here to talk about the first ever outlaw downhill race that happened in far east, Nyom Island/Superhill, Yokosuka Japan. Yes ma'am, it was the first DH race to ever happen in Japan!
My partner in crime Fifer and I have been dreaming about organizing a DH race in Japan since we saw for the first time what DH racing is all about back in Maryhill FOS 2011. It took 5 years of dreaming to make it happen, but yes! We finally did it!!
We had to wait until now because back in 2011 there was almost no DH scene at all here in Japan. People used to see DH as an insanely crazy activity which only few mad persons (like me!) would do, but after 5 years of digging and tilling, looks like we finally have fertile soil to seed some DH racing stoke. The time has come!
Even now that more people are showing up at hills and mountains to enjoy more of the speed taste, still many people were skeptical about making the race happen. People said it was dangerous, what if there were severe crashes, the track was too short… But hey, all of this is part of racing and we wanted to show people that it’d be fine. Sometimes things come out easier by just doing them rather than thinking about the worst-case scenario.
However, we had a perfect solution to make everyone feel easier. One vs. one, Street Fighter style! It was an idea which Fifer has had in mind since we started to think about doing races in Japan. Street Fighter man! If you grew up with video games, “Shoryuken” and “Hadoken” are kind of magic words which turn you on (and we LOVE 80’s and 90’s stuff! Who wouldn’t!?). And yes, we’re in Japan! Homeland of video games! Why not mix gamer shit with skateboarding! Making it sound more goofy, fun, and not too serious was the key to hook people’s attention. Besides, one vs. one race format is just simpler, safer, and more exciting at a short hill like this.
Not to mention, most of people here have never raced before, even just for fun between friends. So before we open the registration, we’ve made this video to show people the idea of the event and what we are trying to do. Also it helped to make people stoked! (Shout out for Okachan, Kohey and Nori for the help)
From the beginning we asked the local shop Funwaves for some help. Not only are they good friends, they also have experience in running the annual Superhill Slide Jam, already 5th time this year. There are always good vibes working with them so it makes everything work easier having them in the organizer team.
We opened pre-registration 3 weeks prior to the event, but to be honest we were a bit anxious. What if nobody signed up?!
For the pre-registration we made riders to pick one of the character from Street Fighter series and everyone will race as this character. Costumes were not required but were encouraged! Once riders confirmed their choice of character we made them a character card for each rider and started to post it to Facebook event page, so people see who play which character. This also encouraged people to sign up and we finally filled all 16 riders limit!
So the race day finally came. It was hot but windy day.
Superhill is a very short track of less than 500m long with two corners, one right and one left both not too tight, actually you can make it down full grip and getting a good rush of speed. Still a lot of riders in Japan don't dare to skate it in a full grip mode. However, to make things more interesting we set slide zone right before the first right and made everybody throw at least one slide before the corner.
At first racers were worried about crashes especially at the slide zone, but once we started practice runs riders found out that crashes were not difficult to avoid, yet there were tons of ways to play the game, make an epic overtaking happen and advance to the next round.
One vs one format turned out perfect as the first race event because of its simplicity, it was easy to understand for both riders and organizers so that everything went smooth and people were stoked. We also set a special bracket for the riders who lost the first round, as “Zombie bracket”, so that everybody had at least 2 races to run!
As a good day of the first racing experience for many, unexpected falls happened many times. Nervous fall of the start push happened even 2 or 3 times. Also many of them finally realized that a better tuck could make a huge different. These things that you could only find out by pushing your limit, and we knew that the racing was the best way to push everyone’s level. In order to have a better start, a better tuck, a quick decision to go through a corner faster than your opponent… all these things could only be learned by experience.
At the end of the day, after very close final, our guy Nori Tamura took the victory. Nori is the only rider from Japan who have gone to overseas races and events on regular bases and we were happy to see him finally taking the 1st place at a race. We’ve seen him working so hard to keep up with the racing scene outside Japan, it was well deserved win for him showing off his experience at racing. Yet it was really nice to see everyone hustling to beat Nori. He will continue being a good example and motivation for others, the target to beat for the next time.
Another things which made me happy was to see the reaction of the spectator and volunteers. Most of them had never seen DH race before so they were so surprised that riders come in so fast at the finish line that we had to review the video when riders comes in close and see who crossed the finish line first. It was rewarding to hear the comments from some grom volunteers that now they’d like to see the bigger racing scene outside of Japan. So watch out world! In few years you might see more Japanese young guns shredding your local races!
Finally in the end, thank you all the racers who signed up, all the volunteer stuff, Yoshi and Rie of Funwaves. Also big shout out to Loaded for always giving us generous support for the prizes and believing in Fifer and I as a team to work on community building activities like this. And this time another shout out for Vicious grip and our good friend Patrick Switzer aka Stitchy for getting stoked with what we do and sending us some grip stoke!
From Minchita, the stoked news reporter.
Have a shreddelicious day!
Photo by: Megu Sakayori, Hajime Okada
Photo by: Megu Sakayori, Hajime Okada