The “Welcome:” series from adidas Snowboarding is a perfect example of what good filmmaking is all about, honesty. From the first piece featuring Jake Blauvelt I knew this was going to be an exercise in truth, not just an extended commercial for adidas. It’s no surprise seeing as adidas has always had top notch skateboard content and a carefully cultivated team. I’m just happy that eye for special talent and individuality crossed over to their snowboard program.
It’s been nearly 11 years since I first met Kazu and having watched him transition from a quiet contest kid to one of the truly elite riders in snowboarding has been something very special indeed. I knew the stories of Jake, Eric, Forest and Keegan before watching their pieces and while that didn’t make them any less enjoyable, it did in some ways spoil “the moment”.
Though Kazu is a friend, I’ve never quizzed him on what makes him tick or the details of his childhood. Perhaps it is for that reason that Kazu’s piece is my favorite of the series. He grew up on the other side of the world but for some reason I’ve always felt a certain kinship with the guy and now I know why. If you think about it, a small town in Japan is not so different than a small town in Vermont. People work hard, value nature and a-lot of them drive Subarus. Hokkaido may as well be Japan’s New England, how’s that for an incredibly bold statement with no academic reinforcement?
All the cultural differences, the language barrier, they’re of little consequence when it comes to snowboarding because in snowboarding style speaks louder than words and Kazu has always had it in spades. Flipping of judges, straight-lining the pipe, refusing to conform to a clothing standard, that’s Kazu’s style, real, honest style and it’s something snowboarding can’t get enough of.