Delaney, Genevieve, Zeke, Victor, Quin and Nigel want to thank everyone for their love, care and concern over the past 24 hours from both sides of the Pacific. We are in good hands here and although we can’t control mother nature we feel safe.
Before I go off on a tangent and bore you with the same details that CNN, BBC and Fox is giving you ad nausea, we’d like to congratulate all of our team-mates and new National Champs like John “Davinci” Leonard (Half Pipe!) and those that have had personal bests. For sure this trip so far has had personal bests and we plan to keep it that way until we return home safely on Tuesday night and see you all at school and the office on the 1t6t!
I know you want the details so I will give them to you as respectfully as I know them while keeping in mind all of the horror that I am sure some people endured yesterday in coastal towns across Japan. We have been watching like you have on the television the power of the Tsunami and subsequent waves and wind. It truly is spectacular and scary. Luckily all that we have endured so far are tremors, shaking buildings, cancelled ski races and closed lifts. This pales in comparison to the lost lives that resulted from the flooding. Still more to come I am sure and warnings for many other parts of the globe including Hawaii.
Yesterday the day began as anticipated….great buffet (eggs, rice, fish, cereal, Nattō, and more). The kids warmed up on the race hill for an hour freeskiing while I set the GS course and prepared for training. 5 runs of GS was followed by a ski change and course re-set. My first “Kombi” set in 4 years…provoked, titillated and chellenged them. They even said it was fun! I”ve still got it! A couple more runs on the race hill and then into lunch!
A concert planned for the restaurant underneath our rooms forced a change of guest rooms for us. It was good time to pick up all our dirty undies and move over a building so that we’d be sure to sleep! The new rooms we got were right in front of the finish area and I contemplated coaching from my couch via two-way radio! This was a good move as it put us close to the race office, tuning rooms and chair lift. after a quick haul we were all set and then onto getting ready for race day.
The Team Captain’s meeting was scheduled for 4pm. The kids were getting ready to do skis and learning Japanes quickly so that they could gain some friends in order to borrow a wax iron. They have all masterd the 13 most important words in Japan and can be called upon at anytime to repeat them upon cue! Its impressive!
Within the hour before the Team Captains meeting we were all on the ground floor of the Naeba Prince Hotel when we felt the ground moving….buiding shaking and people looking at each other as if they didn’t really know what to do next. It’s amazing how we read about disaster but really when we feel it, nobody quite knows what to do….we felt helpless at that point and really only could laugh nervously and joke about the experience. That’s the good news…..the bad news is it happened again within about 30 minutes and we were still no better prepared. At one point skis leaning against the wall began to fall over for the tremors. It was “cool” at the time but scary nonetheless!
The kids continued to prepare their skis and I attended the Team Captain’s meeting. A glitch with the computer “bib” draw program delayed the proceedings and I decided to Google “Japan Earthquake”. This is when I realized that this was serious business and that there was far reaching damage and concern. This was about 2 hours after the actual earthquake happened. Soon thereafter they thought they’d introduce me to the 100 people (coaches/parents) and tell of my history here in Japan as a ski coach from way back in the early 90’s until now. What most folks in the room didn’t realize was that I was here during the January 17, 1995 Kobe Earthquake in 1995 as well as in Tokyo on March 20th during the Sarin Gas attacks on the Subway. I’m not exactly a lucky charm! The meeting was delayed because of the technical problems and eventually commuted to picking up bibs in the morning.
Mr. Kaminari is in town of course as he oversees all the Goldwin, Fischer and Scott divisisons (all Goldwin wintersports busineses). He wanted to take us to dinner to make up for the meal we had the night before. He insisted that we would have Shabu Shabu for real this time! We did…and it was great. Thinly sliced Kobe beef, boiled and then dipped. Veggies, noodles, scary sides dishes and finished with Green Tea Ice Cream (抹茶アイスクリーム).
After dinner the kids retired to their rooms while I attended a Race Organizing Committee meeting. The subject was whether or not to run the event as planned. The committee wanted to make a “decent” decision that would respect what was going on around the world. It was difficult and I was included in the process. It was important for me to let them know that the USA delegation would support any decision they made and although we would be disappointed not to compete here we would understand if that was the choice. At about 9pm last night the decision was made to abort the 12th Japan Cup and cancel all further events. The kids were in bed and asleep so I decided to wait until morning to let them know.
The fun was not over yet though as we all woke at 4am this morning to another quake that was closer to home. The area of Nagano/Niigaata was hit with a secondary quake that was much nearer to where we are. Twenty minutes after the first tremors of this second quake we all felt the 3rd floor of our hotel rooms move again. Scary stuff indeed.
At 7am this morning the official announcement was made. The Japan Cup will not be contested in 2011. Japan’s Whistler Cup team will be selected from national point standings and the USA and China will have to wait another year to compete here. Our return schedule is currently the same but it is likely that we will head to Narita on Sunday with the Chinese team and stay the night there before heading back to Tokyo (Shinegawa) for some sight-seeing on Monday and Tuesday and meeting our 5pm flight back home Tuesday afternoon.
We look forward to one last morning of skiing with the chinese team as our friends tomorrow and then will board the bus out of Naeba…a little wary but thankful for all the experiences we have recieved and hopeful for a quick recovery for Japan and all the families that are affected by the Tsunami. The SSCV kids have been so gracious in their response to cancellations and changes.
Until tomorrow….you can skype me at nigel.cooper66 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org