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The best of the best

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Takashiro Ishihara – Aside from edging out Kasahara in the Nippon Open to finish fourth against an all-star international field, Ishihara was second in the Japan nationals this year.

Snowboard Women

Yuri Yoshikawa – Yuri represented Japan at the Olympics in 2002, finishing 19 th . She won the national championships this year, finished sixth in the Nippon Open, and has competed well on the pro circuit at home and at World Cup level, where she was the first Japanese athlete to win a gold medal.

Junko Asazuma – Junko was seventh in the Nippon Open this year, and is a top competitor on the Japanese pro circuit.

Ski Men

Shoya Okazaki – Shoya is a former ski racer and moguls competitor who has made the switch to freeskiing in recent years. He still competes on the World Cup circuit, and represented Japan at the World Skiing Invitational, where he was an impressive newcomer to the sport, to say the least.

Motoki Shimomura – Shimo has been competing in pro freeskiing events, and has a top 10 finish in the big air event at the 2000 Winter X Games. He doesn’t have a lot of pro results, but attracts attention wherever he goes.

Ski Women

Tomoko Kojima – Not much is known about Tomoko, but judging by the level of Japanese talent in local and pro contests, you can safely bet that she’s pretty good.

Team Australia

Snowboard Men

Andrew Burton – Burton is on the Australian national team, which is starting to show promise on the World Cup circuit.

Marcus Wehrle – Wehrle does not have a lot of results, but was impressive in the Quik Cup last year in finishing third behind Mathieu Crepel of France and Shaun White.

Snowboard Women

Torah Bright – Bright is just 16 but has been competing in pro events for the last couple of years. She improves with every contest, and has top-10 results to her credit in Grand Prix events and the U.S. Championships. She was seventh in the X Games slopestyle this year, and a medallist at the junior world championships.

Holly Crawford – Crawford is the Australian national halfpipe champion, and was 24 th in the FIS World Snowboard Championships.

Ski Men

Woodie Bouma– Although he is best known for his big mountain freeskiing, Bouma is starting to break into new school events. Although he doesn’t have a lot of results, he’s qualifying.