Last week saw the first-ever Asian Freeride World Qualifier event, the Hakuba Valley 2 and 4-stars. There was a lot of excitement around the competition, especially Travis Rice’s attendance and winning run, which included a massive backside 7 and set a high benchmark for natural freestyle. We wanted to get a local’s perspective on the contest, an insider’s take, so we hit up Shin Biyajima for his thoughts.  Shin’s riding is calm, calculated, and ready to open up when the time is right– he’s an excellent example of a rounded freerider.  This edit from Flow shows the mindful snowboarding that earned him second place in last week’s 4-star event– notice how he minds his sluff, waiting exactly until his exits are safe before kicking in the performance gears. His interview, below, paints the picture of a soul shredder with a holistic take on boarding, someone who sees competition as part of a bigger picture and who appreciated FWQ Hakuba for what it meant to his people.

How does it feel to place 2nd in the Hakuba Valley 4-star?

I’m stoked that I got 2nd following T-Rice. I’m one of the rider from the local area, a Japanese rider–

Japanese people never thought a Japanese snowboarder could get a prize in Extreme ski/snowboard comp, too.
I rode for competition– not for my joy. I enjoyed my run but didn’t take any risks to doing tricks. Riding safely is one important thing at Extreme condition, that’s why I didn’t push myself too much. It’s totally different than filming.

How important are contests to your riding?

For me, it’s for my sponsors. Supporters. It’s a way to show them that I’m riding everyday, every winter, every moment.

Did many of your friends compete in FWQ Hakuba Valley?
Yes. There was a qualifier for this event which about 30 Japanese snowboarders entered. There was my younger brother and good local snowboarder friends– the contest brought out a lot of good Japanese riders.

Will you compete in other FWQ events this season?  Is competing in FWT an important goal for you?

The other contests are not in my schedule. If I get an invite from this event, Hakuba’s, then I feel I should enter. For me, riding in Alaska is my goal and I’m doing it last 5 years.

Will you compete in any non-FWQ/FWT contests this season?

No plan. maybe some Banked Slalom event. Actually one Banked Slalom event in Hemsedal,Norway, in May.

Your footage in The Fourth Phase and Floating Pyramids was really fun to watch– are you filming again this season?

Yes, no. Travis Rice is here with his filmer and We’ve filming for 2 weeks now. I’m friends with Jordan Ingmire from a long time ago– that’s why I helped/guided where to ride, film for Floating Pyramids crew. I will help any crew visiting Nagano, because I’ve been helped by people where I visited, so it’ s my turn when people visit my area. It’s all a circle.

Would you let competing in FWT interrupt your filming schedule?

Depends on each case– I’m not hating on comps. I want to support contests that do good things for snowboarding.  It’s a way to help snowboarding.

What would make FWQ and FWT events better?

Shin Biyajima is 34 years old and rides for Flow Snowboarding.  You can see more of his riding in Red Bull’s The Fourth Phase and The Middle Path Project’s Floating Pyramids.