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ODT Snow Team Rider Erika Vikander – Freeride World Qualifer

The look of pure satisfaction of getting faceshots in your contest run.

The land of the rising sun. A label true to the name, Japan is one of the most amazing spiritually connecting places in the world. To be in Japan is something that every snowboarder dreams about, one experience I will treasure for the rest of my life. To not only be there, but get 6 days in a row of the best days I’ve ever had on my snowboard in addition to the most fun contest there could be, felt like an absolute dream come true.

After hours of travel a makeshift office in the airport.
The ride into Hakuba Valley, enjoying my PHGB trailmix!

After hours of travel, planes, trains, and automobiles I was happy to get out of the big city and start making our way up into the “Japanese Alps” a.k.a the Hakuba Valley, a landscape which is sincerely remarkable.

The “Japanese Alps”


Happy Ladies!

Upon arriving in Japan we heard they were having a bad year, but since the Freeride World Tour Qualifier was making its debut in Asia, regardless of the conditions we were fired up. These events take an enormous amount of planning and coordination from everyone, from the Hakuba tourism department to the FWT organizers, to the volunteers, and the athletes. Everyone has to come together, be understanding that we do a winter sport, and the conditions and safety take priority over how badly we all want to compete. That being said, luckily someone had the foresight that we might need a lot of extra weather days, and did we ever!

The contest was supposed to happen within the first 3-4 days we were in the Hakuba Valley, but with heavy snow continually falling through the week making the venue unsafe for competition, the event
organizers had to do some crafty thinking and rethink a venue with very short notice. They did
everything in their absolute power to keep the contest and spirit alive, keeping us updated with constant emails and meetings throughout the week. Thanks Alicia for being so on top of that šŸ™‚

I don’t think anyone was complaining about having to wait for the contest because every single competitor got to go ride at multiple resorts around Hakuba Valley and have literally, the BEST days of our lives. We rode chest deep powder all day, soaked in the natural hot springs (onsens) with a view after riding, then ate the most incredible fish every night, this was paradise.

One of my favorite buildings in Hakuba

A few days later the weather and snowpack was finally stable enough to have the contest in the backcountry of Hakuba Happo One Ski Resort. By this point I think half the field forgot we were there for a contest, because we were all grinning ear to ear all day every day with the meters fresh snow accumulating.

Possibly one of the best days of my life. Hakuba 47

The morning of the competition the sun greeted us for a little while, just enough time to give us the vitamin D we were missing from the huge storm that we were submersed in for the last week. By the time we were at the lodge to get our avalanche equipment checked, the storm moved back in, and made visibility a little bit more difficult.

Since they had to move the venue last minute they ended up giving us a snowmobile ride up a couple miles almost to the top of the venue. Lucky for us or we would have had to boot pack nearly an hour and half to the top of the venue. I’m amazed how efficiently it all went given the number of competitors and limited snowmobile usage, Ā not a single person missed their start.

Women snowboarders were the third group to drop, I was the third person to drop and I ended up in 3rd place on the podium! It was difficult to find my line after getting a faceshot first turn into the unbelievably steep venue. Ā I lost my line I inspected the day before nearly immediately, and just went for a soul inspired run, nearly blind. Congrats to all of the athletes and especially the ladies battling challenging near white-out conditions, and persevering with smiles on your faces. It was amazing to watch all of the competitors in their elements and especially watch the ladies absolutely SEND IT! Special shoutout to my friend Michaela Davis Meehan for her aggressive line that put her in 2nd place and the Russian sensation Anna Orlova for charging her way to the top spot!

Pure stoke with my girl Michaela Davis Meehan!

Another highlight for everyone was the fact that not only Travis Rice decided to show up to compete and absolutely dominate, but he was one the nicest people at the contest, kudos to him for being a humble human being and inspiring so many to do what we do.

The legend himself


Girls just wanna have fun!

A big thank you again to the FWT organizers, Hakuba Tourism, and the Japanese people. Without whom this contest would not have made history the way it did. I am so honored to be a part of this event, and to stand atop the podium with some of the world best athletes is just a bonus! Thank you to DISCRETE HEADWEAR for helping me to get to Japan as well as PlayHardGive back for your support and keeping me fueled up and ready to ride. Another huge shoutout to NICHE SNOWBOARDS for shipping me a board suitable for these conditions all the way to Japan. As well as Aura Optics, XS Unified, Outdoor Tech, Polar Pro, and Shred Betties.


I can’t wait to hit the next stop of the Freeride World Qualifier at Crested Butte February 10-12th. Stay Tuned!


I love JAPAN!


A burning cleanse before entering the temple


Big city lights. Tokyo, Japan.


Near the famous Tokyo Scramble


Sake Barrels in Tokyo