Learning in the MYP

International School Snow Sports Championship – A student’s perspective

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I had a wonderful time on the TIS Ski Trip in 2016. It was an amazing and extraordinary brilliant experience. A few weeks later, I joined the International School Snow Sports Championships (ISSSC) 2016 in Hakuba, as part of the TIS Ski Team. We were competing against BST (British School in Tokyo); it was an intense weekend!

It had been a long bus ride the day before, but we made it to here – Iwatake in Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture. I received my lift pass and we went onto the Gondola straight away. The view was incredible up from the top, and I was surprised that the snow felt smoother than I would have thought. It was Saturday, great snow and perfect weather for skiing. We met our coaches (there were 7 coaches!) and all of them gave us a warm welcome. We greeted them back and then we had a few warm up runs. Our coach, Krissy, told us to partner up with a buddy in case we got lost in the mountain. She had a point – if I accidentally took the wrong chairlift, it might deliver me to an entirely different mountain. I would probably be worried and not know what to do. So, looking around, and there he was – my buddy, Brandon. I chose him because he could ski well and we both could read Japanese. Luckily, no accidents or injuries happened throughout the trip and we all had a great time.

The moment we finished our third warm up, we were called to wait after we got off the chairlift, and Krissy led us to the slalom course. Suddenly, the Amygdala and Hippocampus in my brain were filled with excitement – the course was much more challenging than in last year! I was excited, because I could tell that the slope was quite dynamic. How dynamic? We slowly went through the course and Krissy explained the tricky spots of the slope in detail – the course was shaped like a “S” if you could examine at it from the sides. The course started steep, allowing me to gain speed. Then, I had to turn aggressively (although the snow was smooth, it was also a bit icy), so that I could keep my speed without ramming over the gates. Not long after I gained speed and had a few turns, here came the tricky part – we called it the “bench”, but it represented the most difficult part of the course – it was flat. You might think that the flat part must be the easiest because it is safe, and I probably had enough skill to ski over a beginner-piste like anyone could do on the Naeba school ski trip. However, it was actually a lot more complicated than most might think. Because of the fact that everyone was trying to push themselves to go faster in a race, the bench was quite dangerous just because you might fly over and land on your back. Apart from the risks I mentioned, there was a short turn right after the bench. Anyway, we had a few runs on the course, had a great time with the coach and teachers, and finally we moved onto something different after lunch.

Zoom, zing, zoom. All of us were freeskiing down the hill until we saw our coach waving at us. So we knew we had to stop in front of the snowpark. Saturday was not only to practise the slalom course, but I could also choose to either keep learning the slalom course or to have fun at the snowpark. What really surprised me was that we were also competing against BST for the jumps. When the coach told us the news, I was shocked, worried, interested and was unable to move because I had a really bad time when I went to the park with my family – especially the slippery rectangular box that I once tried to jump onto sideways but landed on my back, ouch. Luckily, we were not doing anything extreme. Nothing bad happened and even I enjoyed a lot of jumping. The coaches taught us a few basic techniques to jump successfully but when it was my turn to jump I felt nervous and landed on my arm. My skis came off and I learned a lesson: I should not expect to succeed the first time I jump. After a few runs, there was a competition. The more points I gain, the higher chance I will win. And we were graded by our style, landing position, and most importantly, who could scream the loudest (this idea was suggested by Krissy). When it was my turn to jump, without hesitation I charged myself with great speed and took off. “Waa-cha!” I screamed in the air and landed just before I was out of control. I won the 1st place gold medal for the jump with the stunning 27 points in total. I guess my creativity impressed the coaches and made me win!

The next day we went onto the Gondola again and the mountain was covered with a new, thin pile of snow. I predicted the night before that it would snow again, and indeed I was correct. Now the weather became very clear. It was a great day and my brain was filled with great excitement again. We had two warm up runs and then we started to wait in line for the real race. When the coach called me over and told me it was my turn to race, my heartbeat racing and I stopped in front of a needle-like timer that blocked in front of my boots. I carefully put my poles over the timer and waited for the coach to inform me to start. “Three, two, one…” I pushed myself forward, ticked the needle, and had my first turn in less than 4 seconds after the timer started. My first turn was successful, and here it came the second turn… It was a lot icy than I thought. However, I pressed onto my skis even harder and in no time I had to prepare to make my third turn. I applied as much pressure on the skis as I could. “Foom; zaak” , I almost fell and lost control, because the slope was so icy, and my skis made a rough scratchy sound. I almost lost my balance, but I moved on, despite the fact that I had lost some speed. After a few turns, I saw the bench coming up. I got ready into a “jumping position” – although I did not really want to take off – flew with my ski’s back tip touching the ground and without hesitation I instantly turned left to make the short turn. I realized that I had lost some speed when I went over the bench so I started to “tuck”, hoping to gain back as much speed as possible. I passed the finish line and came in 2nd for the Giant Slalom race in my age group!

Adrian Tai (Grade 8)
TIS Ski Team Representative

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