Saturday, May 15, 2010

Japan: Too Close, Switching to Guns

And Kieran is back at it! Unemployment, rain, and Almonte will do that to you. Today, a post that might not double as an Honours thesis. Under review isJapan and not exactly a skiing powerhouses. And unless you’re Japanese or like World Cup skiing an unhealthy amount you probably don’t give a shit. But because you’re reading this, you probably do not exactly have a lot going on right now, so enjoy!

Japan – C+

If you know a little bit about skiing, you may know that in the 08-09 World Cup season the Japanese ski team made history. A World Cup podium, coupled with two solid females and some above-Japanese average (read: above absolute garbage) men, they made for a surprisingly good World Cup season. Which, to their detriment, resulted in Kieran thinking they might be flippin’ awesome this year.

Masako Ishida was the real deal last season. The above-mentioned medal, consistent distance skiing in a tough female field, and over 200 WCP’s. Pretty damn good for Japan. Too bad she was considerably stinkier this year. She basically had no results to write home about. Other than a 5th at the Olympics. But Vancouver is practically home if you’re Japanese, so no writing needed. She finished in the Top 10 once on the World Cup, and came up with a measly 91 WCP.

To be fair, she did not get much help. Madoka Natsumi, who is supposedly the other hot Japanese talent, basically put her 32 year old ass into cruise control. She is only a sprinter, but that did not really pan out. And Ishida and Natsumi were supposed to combine for a mean sprint relay, but 13th is a little further back than hoped. Not exactly Pearl Harbour, if you know what I mean.

The men were also lackluster. The best of the bunch was Yuichi Onda, with 66 points. As his owner for the majority of the Fantasy Nordic skiing, I had him penciled in for a few more. Classic sprinting is his thing, and in an Olympic classic sprint year, it seemed reasonable to expect some good things. However, his results pre-Olympics were mediocre (best placing was 25th in Canmore). Somehow he did found some extra juice and benefitted from a slightly smaller field, cracking the heats at the Olympics and finishing 17th. He rode that wave to a 5th place in the Classic sprint at Drammen, a brilliant piece of skiing for the 30 year old journeyman.

His two teammates weren’t much help either. Nobu Naruse and Masaaki Kozu collected 24 and 15 WCP points respectively, not exactly shocking the skiing world. However, Naruse is still young, just 25 years old, and Kozu looks like a crazy son of a bitch, so I’m banking on them to turn in some quality next season.

The number one reason not to fuck with Japan. The second is Yudai Nakagawa's sushi rolling skills.

Watch out For: Has to be Nobu Naruse. This past season he was always on the bubble, finishing in the 25th to 40th spot a whopping 10 times. I think he will be able to throw down consistent fast skate sprints, and at least get some experience.

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