In times of joint training ventures and big national teams this race board lady moved on to pastures new by doing her own thing, in many different ways.
In 2006, Tomoka Takeuchi decided to try something new. The Japanese parallel snowboarding team wasn't as successful as the athlete from Asahikawa Hokkaido was hoping for. As a consequence, Takeuchi, who was – back then – 23 years old decided to quit training with her fellow countrywomen and started to cooperate with the Swiss National Parallel team.
“They were very effective and as a result were able to celebrate a lot of triumphs”, recalls the three-time Olympian.
Looking back, it was the right move as over the following years, Takeuchi learned a lot and improved even more which finally cumulated in four podium results in 2009 as well as the third rank of the 2009 World Cup standings.
“It was good to be successful, but on the other hand my life was pretty tough, too.”
Especially as the Japanese athlete decided to stay in Europe, attended a language school to learn German and thus had to deal with a totally different culture.
As this wouldn't have been enough, Takeuchi once again had the guts to do another cut.
Since 2011 the carving specialist has her own team including her private coach Felix Stadler, a former racer himself and successful coach of the Austrian National Team as well as a physio and wax tech, not to forget the support of the Japanese Federation and varying sponsors.
But this move paid off. In the 2013 winter season, the fastest Japanese on the World Cup circuit clinched her career's first World Cup win in Carezza, Italy, on her 29th birthday.
Having been in better shape than in seasons before due to her extended team support might have helped a lot, but having played a major role in developing her own race board with Swiss alpine snowboarding siblings Simon and Philipp Schoch had also a big influence.
During her time with the Swiss National Team, the three athletes started to develop the brand Black Pearl in 2008 and were able to improve their own snowboard year after year.
“Over the past seasons, more and more riders chose to take the Black Pearl, too, and we also had some good World Cup results with it.” Just like her in December 2012 with maybe some more to come, maybe at the 2014 Olympics?