Skiers Helping Japan at the 2012 Schladming Finals

09 March 2012 23:10

The Tohoku area was one of the regions mostly affected by the 9.0-magnitude Pacific Coast Earthquake that hit Japan on March 11th, 2011. The earthquake and tsunami that followed left the region, which occupies the northeastern portion of Honshu, the largest island of Japan in a state of disaster and chaos. Tohoku already had a reputation as a remote region that offered breathtaking sceneries but extremely harsh climate. With whole villages being swept away by the floods of the tsunami a year later, the inhabitants life is still heavily affected by the 2011 events.

Right after the earthquake and tsunami, the ski industry and the people linked to it started working with the common goal of taking action and helping the area, which is home to numerous ski resorts and hosted the 1993 Alpine World Championships in Morioka Shizukuishi and FIS Freestyle World Championships INAWASHIRO 2009.
In the days after the catastrophe, Tetsuya Okabe (former Japanese Slalom great) created the organization “One’s Hands Project”, and within their first “I Love Snow Campaign”, over 60 000 pieces of winter clothing and ski gear were collected and distributes to those in need.

Having in mind that the reconstruction of an area stricken by such a disaster will take time, “One’s Hands Project” applied to become an authorized non-profit organization (NPO) that would set long-term goals and continuously support the winter sport community in the Tohoku region, reconstruct the destroyed facilities and promote snow sport among the young population.

At last year’s FIS Alpine World Cup Finals in Lenzerheide, World Cup skiers led by Julia Mancuso and Akira Sasaki and former Slovenian Olympic medalist Jure (Yuri) Franko, made it their mission to send a message of support, courage and positive energy to their Japanese ski colleagues. Auctions were set up, money was raised, and messages of support were sent.

Even though a lot has been done, there is still a long way to go before things get back to normal. That is why it has been decided that at this year’s Finals in Schladming a second “Skiers Helping Japan” action will take place.

The idea is for former and current World Cup athletes to bring and donate a signed sport item at the Audi Night @ Cult Club in Schladming on March 15, 2012 starting at 9.30 pm. A drop off point will be set up there and athletes are welcomed to donate anything from goggles and gloves to jackets and racing suits- which will than be shipped to Japan and auctioned off or distributed as a message of support through  “One’s Hands Project” to the young skiers in Japan.

“Let them know we didn’t forget… let them know we care!”