Yuki Tsubota – Coming in Hot
Yuki is the girl in the park you do a double take of because she skis so strongly. Whistler born and raised, a Canadian national team member, Olympian, recent World Cup winner, and all of this is achieved at a mere just twenty-two years of age. This girl doesn’t move slowly. Off snow you have an unassuming, kick-ass chick who is as real as they come and down to chat about anything. I caught up with Yuki to do just that and dish the dirt right before her trip to Korea to check out venue for the 2018 Winter Olympics and compete in the World Cup there. Check out what she had to say…
Annaliese: Yuki, welcome to DOGLOTION! Let’s get right to it, how has your season been so far?
Yuki: It’s been pretty great thanks. We’ve done three contests so far and I’m about to leave to Korea for my next World Cup. A few weeks back I won the first World Cup of my career. I’m ecstatic about it.
After Korea I return home for about a week and then I go to Europe to round out the season. Though I’ve been on the road already this winter I have managed some time at home to ski the snow we’ve been getting back in Whistler, which has been unreal.
Annaliese: Congratulations on that World Cupper. That’s a huge milestone! Must be nice balancing out the comp skiing with the home pow we’ve been getting too. Tell me, how was X-Games this year? Now that you’ve been before do you think the experience helps your mindset and the way you approach the contest or is it new and scary every time?
Yuki: Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to compete at X-Games this year as I was an alternate, but I went down just in case to get the training. I was really bummed I didn’t get to compete but I had one of the greatest weeks of my life skiing and learning new things to bring to my next contest. I have competed in two X-Games and I have definitely started to get used to it. X-Games is unlike any other contest we do all season. ESPN puts on such a great show. It really feels like a mini Olympics. To me, competing every contest it feels the same. Once you’re in the gate you switch on and it’s really just another event, the only thing that changes is its name and location.
Annaliese: Makes sense. Must be a pretty intense experience each time!
Yuki: It is. But you kind of learn how to do it I guess.
Annaliese: I can see that. And what are your thoughts about the state and level of women’s skiing these days? Is this the era of a new generation of next level?
Women’s Slopestyle skiing is definitely becoming more exciting. Everyone is getting better and someone is learning something new every week. When I first started Slopestyle four years ago, you could get away with not doing anything on the rails at all but that’s not the case anymore. You have to be well rounded and strong at everything, so I think that’s the biggest change we’ve seen in women’s skiing. The whole sport is progressing to a pretty insane level.
Annaliese: I hear you. The pressure’s on! What are your plans for the rest for the season? Are you filming?
I have contests, contests, and more contests lined up for the remainder of the season. There’s the Korean World Cup, Silvaplanna World Cup, and the SFR final (SFR is a three stage free ski series in France). Once I’m done in Europe I’ll return home to Whistler to film spring skiing and hopefully get some time to ski the backcountry.
Annaliese: You’re not busy at all! Will we see you make the transition in to big mountain skiing in the future do you think?
I’ve been having that thought often these days. I am torn between getting into big mountain skiing and going back to school. I’ve grown up skiing the entire mountain and have a love for big mountain skiing as much as I do for the park. I would love to take my Slopestyle tricks into the backcountry. However, I plan to start taking some courses the spring so I guess I’ll see how that goes!
Annaliese: Good on you. School sucks but if you can get it done while skiing you’ve covered all bases which is always advantageous. The Gen Y in me says take it all Yuki, take it all, ha.
And now the gritty stuff, tell me how was it really growing up around Whistler?
Yuki: Growing up in Whistler is one of the best things you could ever ask for as a kid. Everything from the sports you get to play, to the school, and the community, the location… I was fortunate to try out every sport as a child to see what I really liked. No one really likes school, but in Whistler school is actually awesome. Every Monday in elementary school in winter you had the choice to go to school or go skiing, and I’m sure you can guess what the majority of us chose! I was really lucky with how supportive my high school teachers were about my skiing schedule. They made sure I would stay caught up with my work and get everything done to finish my courses ok. The community of Whistler is so special, really. Everyone knows everyone and is there for each other. As a competitive athlete, from a young age I have felt this tremendously.
Annaliese: That’s so cool. I guess that’s part of the magic of Whistler hey. Forward thinking, community oriented, full of Australians that come and never leave (insert sarcasm on the last remark). But yes, I hear you. We are pretty luck in these parts. Such an environment must have been incredibly helpful and encouraging toward becoming a professional athlete.
And now to really divide your Whistler supporters, which mountain is your favourite? Are you a Whis or Blackcomb kinda gal?
Yuki: If you would have asked me this question two years ago I would’ve said hands-down Blackcomb, but in the last few years I have grown to love Whistler Mountain especially when it comes to powder days. Blackcomb still has the best park, especially when it comes to jumps, but Whistler has fun small rails to mess around on and learn new things.
Annaliese: Do you ever get sick of flipping and spinning in the park and need to break it up with pow or do you equally love both?
No not really but I do try to keep a balance between free skiing and the park. Sometimes I just need to bring it back to the roots. I wouldn’t say that I love skiing the park more.. Growing up with Whistler Blackcomb your backyard you learn to ski and love the entire mountain.
Annaliese: Have you ever had times when you’ve questioned your career and thought about something else? If so, why?
Yes, many times. When I see and talk to kids I grew up with and hear they’re just about done with their four years of university I question myself. But I wouldn’t take back or ever regret my ski career. The places I’ve been, the people I have met, and the things I have experienced make up for it all. I have time to go back to school after my ski career, but I wouldn’t be able to do it the other way around. I don’t plan on skiing as a career for the rest of my life.
Annaliese: That’s a pretty rounded perspective Yuki. I salute you on that one! Plus knees and balls have a finite lifespan right so use ‘em while you got ‘em right? There’s no way a career of institution could afford you the travel experiences you’ve had through skiing, or teach you those make or break moments on a course you know you’ve learned about yourself and can pull from within when needed. I think that’s pretty invaluable.
Now, best and worst experience on skis?
Yuki: I think the best and worst experience on skis happened at the exact same time! My best experiences was at the Olympics in 2014. The feeling at the games is something difficult to explain, getting the chance to represent your country and compete in front of the world is priceless. Unfortunately for me, the experience was also one of the worst crashes I’ve ever taken. I came up short on the last jump of my final run I kneed myself in the face breaking my cheek and giving myself a bad concussion.
Annaliese: Yeah that sounds like fun, NOT. What a rough one. I hear that course was just insanely big and quite tight?
Annaliese: Well I guess they make em pretty strong in Canada. A broken cheek can’t be fun. Injuries provides us with a nice segway to down time ha. What do you like to do in your down time?
Yuki: In my downtime I try to keep busy by going to the gym, biking, paddle boarding, or any of the other hundred things to do in Whistler. I also enjoy crocheting. I find it a stress reliever.
Annaliese: Damn girl’s got a broad range of skills! (Yuki just laughs. I’m not funny and move in to recovery strategy.)
So, do you think you’ll always live in Whistler?
Yuki: Yeah, I mean I have no plans to move away from Whistler. This is where I grew up and when I want my kids to grow up. The opportunities I got, I want them to have.
Annaliese: I hear you on that one! Now I also hear you have a furry friend. Please tell us all about your dog!?
Yeah I have a small toy poodle named Happy. He’s almost eight years old. He was given to me six years ago by my Mom’s friend because they moved away and he has been my best friend ever since! He’s the best. You can follow him on Instagram @mrhapster to join him on all his adventures.
Annaliese: I actually love dogs. He looks like the cutest pupp ever!
Speaking of Instagram, follow Yuki at @yuki_tsubota and get ready, this girl’s just getting fired up. Season 2015/16 ain’t over yet. She has quite a few major comps still to come so keep your eyes peeled for some of that Whistler Blackcomb brewed next level skiing we were talking about and if you’re doing a double take at a skier in the park, it’s likely your girl Yuki putting it down.