Interview with Yuka Fujimori: Behind the Scenes of Pro Snowboarder
2021, September 13
We had the privilege of hosting professional snowboarder Yuka Fujimori during her visit to Niseko in December.
Originally from Nagano, Yuka has been a member on the Japan National Team for over 16 years and has competed at the Winter Olympics Games 4 consecutive times which is an outstanding feat not accomplished by most athletes in any sport.
Yuka is also unique in that she competed globally in multiple events including the Big Air, Boardercross and Slopestyle events. Recently Yuka has decided to retire from the competitive circuit to pursue her new snowboarding goals which will focus on travel and filming.
We had the chance of catching up with Yuka in between powder laps on her recent visit to Niseko to ask her a few questions.
Photo Credit: Tsutomu Nakata
What made you start snowboarding? How old were you?
Yuka: I started snowboarding when I was 7 years old. The reason is the influence of my father who ran a snowboard shop.
What is your favorite ski resort in Hokkaido? why?
Yuka: It's difficult to choose, but if I need to choose the ski resort where I have been, Rusutsu and Niseko are my favorite. Rusutsu is a place where there are many points to jump and enjoy when various terrains and mashes grow. Niseko is usually very crowded with tourists from everywhere, and you have to line up early in the morning to get to the fresh powder, but the mountains are wide and you can enjoy long riding, and when the peak opens you can climb up and enjoy the backcountry. I really like night skiing in Niseko because it is worth being out there.
What is the appeal of Niseko?
Yuka: The scenery of the four seasons is superb. Not only mountains and powder snow, the experience in the village is also very fresh. What's even more interesting is that Niseko attracts tourists from various countries, so I think there aren't many other places where you can study English through exchanges. You can experience the feeling of studying abroad while in Japan.
Photo Credit: Tsutomu Nakata
How was your stay at the Nisade accommodations?
Yuka: I stayed at The Maples Niseko and The Vale Niseko this time. In both properties, the location is within walking distance from the ski resort, which was helpful to me because I didn't have a car. The kitchen has almost everything you need, which is very helpful when you want to avoid eating out. There is a convenience store just a short walk away, so I didn't have to worry about getting ingredients. It also has a washing machine, which is helpful for medium- to long-term stays. I was snowboarding from morning till night, so I was able to warm my tired body in the hot springs of The Vale Niseko. I also had a hot meal for breakfast, which made my time in Niseko very fulfilling.
Now that you have retired from the competition circuit, what is your focus and new goals in snowboarding?
Yuka: I would like to expand the range of snowboarding and disseminate it by making use of what I have gained in aiming for the Olympics. In terms of close goals, I would like to make my own video.
You have joined the Olympic Games for four consecutive games. Describe the experience & what you love most about the Olympics.
Yuka: For a long time, my goal in life was to win a medal. I didn't achieve that goal, but I was very happy to see people through the media seeing me as I set a big goal and challenge it, and it connected to their hearts. I think I was able to get a lot of invisible and important things through the Olympics.
What kind of training do you do to improve your physical fitness throughout the year?
Yuka: I've only been doing muscle training at the gym until now, but lately I've started yoga, crossfit training, mountain climbing and skateboarding. I also started surfing recently to build my body in motion. In the summer, I cultivate my senses in the practice field of jumping which is called “Kings".
How do you warm up and prepare yourself before snowboarding?
Yuka: It depends on the condition of the day, but I am doing dynamic stretching.
A message to those who are about to start snowboarding
Yuka: When you first start snowboarding, you often fall, it hurts, it's cold, and It's hard to get out by burying it in powder (laughs). But when you find friends at your level and go snowboarding with them, you will see you improving your level. First of all, it may be good to learn how to fall properly! It is a sport that turns into fun when you pass through the first wall. You can enjoy the comfort of moving your body in nature. I also hold lessons and events on an irregular basis, so let's experience the fun of improving together.