My new friends at the Boyle Heights Fire Department!

Sapporo Dome - home of the Toyota Big Air event

After a couple weeks training at home in Tahoe and stomping my first triple corks, it was time for me to get back on the road! The first order of business was to drive eight hours from Tahoe to San Diego and to catch my flight the next day leaving for Japan. This is part of the everyday life for me. I am always making long road trips with my family, so over the years we have gotten really used to it. Then things got a little crazy! We were coming down from the hills and making our way through central Los Angeles and all of a sudden my brakes went out. I pushed down on the pedal to stop for the traffic ahead of me and there was just nothing there. My wife went into panic mode, but together as a team we were able to merge five lanes over and find a little embankment to pull over on. Surprisingly, we didn’t hit anyone!

As soon as I pulled over, I shut my truck off and noticed smoke coming from the hood. I hopped out and popped the hood to investigate only to find my truck had started fire. I ran back to the cab and yelled, ''Drea, get the dogs out of the back of the truck and get to safety!'' I grabbed our computer bags and we all ran away from the truck frantically. Within two minutes my favorite toy (my truck) was engulfed in flames and totaled. It was crazy! Luckily the Boyle Heights Fire Department got there fast and got the flames out and saved all of the stuff in the cab. They also took us under their wing, feeding and taking care of us at the fire station while we figured out our situation. Hats off to those good men in Boyle Heights!

It was a crazy night but we made it home safe and the next day I was at the airport, en route to Japan for the Toyota Big Air. I love Japan and I love this contest! Toyota Big Air is a historical contest in Japan and in snowboarding in general. I would never pass up the chance to go. They treat the riders like gold and the fans are by far the best!! I have had a good showing there in the past two years, with a victory and a close second, so my hopes were high for this year as well.

The coolest part of this trip is the contest organizers take you the day before the event on a Japanese adventure. First you go to the resort to ride pow, then it’s off to dinner for traditional shabbu shabbu, and you finish the night off with a karaoke session that is always epic! I can’t say enough about how much I love this place!

The next day it was time for the contest! It is a big air event inside the Sapporo Dome with 20,000 excited fans! The atmosphere is hard to beat! I made it through the qualifying heat, then I was set up in a head-to-head match with my friend and teammate Sage Kotsenburg! He rode like a champion and managed to beat me by a couple points. I was disappointed but I was also stoked to see him move on the semifinals. He went on to get a third place finish and the contest was nothing short of amazing! Antoine Truchon from Canada took home the win and a young talented rider from Japan got second. Even though I did not do as well as I wanted, I enjoyed the trip so much and I am hoping for an invite back next year. You always have to take something away from these trips whether you win or lose, and for me it was the culture of Japan!